KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Tennessee quarterback Justin Worley is out indefinitely after undergoing surgery on his right thumb.
Volunteers coach Butch Jones announced the severity of Worley's injury after Tuesday's practice and said he believes Worley has a torn ligament. Knoxville radio station WNML had reported earlier Tuesday that Worley would miss about four weeks.
"He'll be out an indefinite period of time," Jones said. "Everything is how the body heals. It could be two weeks. It could be three weeks. It could be four weeks. We'll see how he progresses."
Worley's injury means freshman Joshua Dobbs will make his first career start Saturday when Tennessee (4-4, 1-3 SEC) plays at No. 10 Missouri (7-1, 3-1). Dobbs replaced an injured Worley in the second half of a 45-10 loss to No. 1 Alabama last week.
Freshman Riley Ferguson is listed as the second-team quarterback. Redshirt freshman Nathan Peterman practiced Tuesday, but his status for the Missouri game remains uncertain. Peterman has missed four games since undergoing surgery on his right hand after a 31-17 loss at Florida on Sept. 19.
"I'm comfortable with both (Dobbs and Ferguson)," Jones said. "They both have done a great job, but I think we're going to lean toward the game experience that Josh was able to garner in the Alabama game."
Worley appeared to have his thumb or hand examined on the sideline Sept. 28 in a 23-21 victory over No. 14 South Carolina, though he never left the game. Worley got hurt more seriously against Alabama. Jones said he thought Worley aggravated the injury while making a tackle after throwing an interception in the Alabama game.
"He slightly injured it a little bit (against) South Carolina, but he practiced all week and he felt it on the one tackle in the Alabama game," Jones said. "It's hard to tell really when it happened, but it happened. The surgery was successful, and we look forward to getting him back."