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Tennessee unsure of starting QB

The Tennessee Volunteers face an uncertain quarterback situation heading into Saturday's matchup against Missouri.

Justin Worley injured his right thumb and was ineffective last week in a 45-10 loss to top-ranked Alabama, which leaves the junior's status as the starter in question as he's day to day.

Even if Worley is healthy enough to play, Vols coach Butch Jones could take his time in determining who will start against Missouri (No. 9 BCS, No. 10 AP). Freshman Joshua Dobbs showed flashes of potential last Saturday and led Tennessee (4-4, 1-3 SEC) to all of its points after entering the game in the second half.

"It could go all week," Jones said. "I never put a time frame on anything. It's how they develop. We're going to play the individual who gives us the best opportunity to win on Saturday."

Jones said the competition also could include redshirt freshman Nathan Peterman and freshman Riley Ferguson. Peterman had surgery on an injured right hand after going 4 of 11 for 5 yards with two interceptions Sept. 21 against Florida in his first career start, but he recently had his cast removed.

"There's a possibility by the end of week he may be available as well, but you never know with the body and how it heals," Jones said.

Whichever quarterback gets the call will face a major challenge. Missouri (7-1, 3-1), which retains a one-game lead over South Carolina in the SEC East, is tied for third in the FBS with 15 interceptions, and cornerback E.J. Gaines (three INTs) is expected to return after missing two games with a quad injury.

Jones said he would rather use only one quarterback Saturday, though he didn't rule out the possibility of a two-quarterback system.

"I don't like changing quarterbacks unless we have to," Jones said. "I don't like individuals looking over their shoulders and thinking that if they mess up one play, am I coming out? That messes with the overall rhythm of an offense. Whatever it takes to win football games, we are going to do."

Tennessee has lost 18 straight on the road against Top 25 teams and has dropped its last 10 away from home in SEC play.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.