Justin Worley did just about all you can ask of him on Saturday. In his first SEC matchup of 2014, Worley threw for 264 yards and three touchdowns on 23-of-35 passing. However, Tennessee fell 35-32 to No. 12 Georgia in a heartbreaking road loss.

But there’s more to the final score. While enjoying a career day, Worley suffered an injury late in the third quarter with Tennessee trailing 21-17. He was taken out of the game for further evaluation while Nathan Peterman struggled to produce any offense for three possessions.

Worley re-entered in the fourth quarter and led Tennessee to two more scoring drives. The senior quarterback proved why head coach Butch Jones has put so much faith into him. Worley has developed into a mature leader for a young Tennessee offense and progressed into a solid SEC quarterback.

Saturday’s game also showed that Tennessee is very thin in its quarterback depth. Peterman looked lost facing an SEC pass rush and, assumed by his absence, coaches seem to┬áhave even less faith in Josh Dobbs as a potential replacement. Worley must stay healthy for Tennessee to continue to challenge talented teams and be a dark horse contender in a wide open SEC East.

As Tennessee prepares to host Florida at Neyland Stadium next Saturday, it will need Worley under center. The senior provides the best option for a pass attack that features several talented receivers. The Volunteers have an opportunity to snap a 10-year losing streak Saturday if Worley is able to start against the Gators.