KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WRCB) -- Butch Jones says the University of Tennessee football team needs to find playmakers on offense, and that search for starts at the top.
A quarterback battle is very much alive as Justin Worley and Nathan Peterman vie for the chance to replace Tyler Bray under center.
The hope is the competition will bring out the best in both signal callers, not just on every snap and throw, but in every huddle, meeting and team activity, as well.
"(Coach Jones) will burst through the door at a quarterback meeting and write leadership on the board," Worley said after the Vols' spring game. "He does lots of things like that, always touching on the small things about how we can affect the team and influence others around us."
To Jones, an alpha male personality is just as important as a strong arm for his quarterbacks. The first-year Vols' coach has liked what he's seen so far from both Worley and Peterman, but much growth remains.
"It's critical," Jones said of a quarterback's dominant demeanor. "Name me a good football team or great football who's quarterback wasn't a great leader."
After a spring game dominated by defense, it's clear the UT offense has a ways to go in adjusting to a new up-tempo scheme.
Jones views it as another test for his quarterbacks, challenging them to take responsibility and make their teammates better.
"It's been a little sloppy. Too many penalties and missed assignments," Worley said of the offense. "But they're things that we can fix because they are little small things. This summer is going to be huge for us as a whole offense."
The importance of the summer months has been drilled into both Worley and Peterman, but no just by their head coach.
"Peyton Manning keeps echoing in my head," Peterman said. "When he was here to visit, he kept stressing how important the summer was to get on the same page as your receivers.
"Coach Jones is stressing it, too, because he's handing the offense over to us this summer."
Both players voiced excitement about the competition, saying they remain friends despite being direct and heated competitors.
Worley has game experience, starting two games and playing in a total of nine over the past two years. The rising junior is the gunslinger in the duo, possessing a strong arm and a short memory.
But Peterman may be the better fit considering past quarterbacks in Jones' offense. The redshirt freshman is a dual-threat who was originally recruited by Jones at Cincinnati, though he rarely got a chance to flash his mobility in spring camp.
WORLEY HAS GAME EXPERIENCE... A STRONG ARM AND A GUNSLINGER MENTALITY... BUT PETERMAN MAY BE THE BETTER FIT IN JONES' SPREAD SCHEME...
"Coach has put me live a couple times, so they have seen a little of it," Peterman said. "But it hasn't been frustrating. All I can do is do my best every day.
"I'm pretty sure they're good evaluators."
Jones won't tip his hand on who is ahead in his mind, especially considering two freshman quarterbacks will enter the race this fall.
Joshua Dobbs and Riley Ferguson signed with Tennessee in February, and will get a fair shot at a starting job when preseason camp opens in August.
"I still need more time to address that," Jones said of his quarterback race. "We'll move forward and obviously this summer will tell me more of where we're at."
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