Coming fresh off an emotional victory just one week ago, the Tennessee Volunteers hoped to carry their recently found momentum into Tuscaloosa, Ala. on Saturday afternoon. While a young Tennessee team had another upset on their mind, a very experienced Alabama team would see none of it.
The Volunteers dropped their fourth game of the season, and seventh straight to Alabama in a 45-10 decision.
Not only did the Vols fall to Alabama for the eighth time in nine years, but they have lost their starting quarterback, Justin Worley, at least temporarily.
After slightly injuring his thumb against South Carolina last week, Worley had been a question for the Vols all throughout the week. He entered Saturday’s game with his thumb bandaged up and remained the starter, as his only backups were two true-freshmen with Nathan Peterman still out.
Putting Riley Ferguson or Josh Dobbs in would effectively terminate their respective redshirts for the season, which Butch Jones had been hoping to do since the beginning of the season.
Worley handled the game fine until he threw his first interception of the game on a pass that slipped out of his hand. As he relegated to the sideline and the training staff diagnosed his injured hand the consensus thought among everyone was that Dobbs would make his college football debut on the road at Alabama, ironically much like Worley did.
Worley was put back in for the Vols final drive of the half which started at their own two-yard-line. He led them down the field after a long connection with Cody Blanc into Tide territory, but yet another pass got away from him and resulted in a pick-six for Alabama, allowing them to extend their lead to 35-0 going into the half.
After a second diagnosis trainers decided to withhold Worley, leaving Jones with no choice but to put Dobbs into the game.
The freshman didn’t appear rattled at all. On his first drive, on the road against the No. 1 team at that, Dobbs led the Vols down the field for their first score of the game, cutting Bama’s lead down to 35-3. His next drive would end with a punt, but his third drive ended in the endzone after Raijon Neal punched his way in after a fourth down conversion inside the five-yard-line. The touchdown was only the second the Tide has given up since playing Texas A&M in their third game of the season.
Worley finished his day completing 8-of-15 passes for 120 yards and two interceptions before being benched due to injury. As Dobbs stepped in he finished in the second half with three rushes for 19 yards, and completed 5-of-12 passes for 75 yards.
No specific timetable has yet been set for Worley and it is unclear at this point who the starter will be for the Vols moving forward. Worley has started in all but one game this season, and has still played in all eight to this point in the season. If the Junior is unable to go, Jones will most likely stick with Dobbs instead of risking burning Ferguson’s redshirt as well.
Tennessee will remain on the road, and face yet another ranked opponent, their sixth of the year, as they travel to Columbia, Mo. next Saturday, Nov. 2. Kickoff time for the Vols matchup against No. 5 Missouri is still TBD as ESPN has yet to decide which network the wish to broadcast the game on.