Riley Ferguson’s Dad Calls in to TSR

Updated: September 17, 2013

On Tuesday morning, Don Ferguson, father of current Tennessee freshman quarterback Riley Ferguson, called in to The Erik Ainge Show and chatted with Jay Bay, Andrew Darago, and Houston Kress about his son. You can listen to their conversation or read the transcript of it below.

(On what kind of quarterback Riley is)

“Well normally people categorize it into is he a dual threat or is he a pocket passer. And I think he’s neither. I think Riley’s strength is when he’s running out of the pocket kind of like how you see Russell Wilson when he gets flushed out and when he’s running horizontally or running toward the line of scrimmage, I think that’s his strength. I think he throws more accurately when he’s on the run coming towards the line of scrimmage or running out to the side than he does standing in the pocket. Now is he a dual threat guy? I don’t think, yea in high school he could get away with taking off and running 15-20 yards. In college I think he’s gonna be more of getting you back to the line of scrimmage, maybe gaining 3 or 4 yards, but I’ve always said his strength is when he’s rolling out, not when he’s standing in the pocket.”

(On Riley’s confidence level since coming to Tennessee)

“Well I mean I talk to him a few times a week. He wants to play. It’s hard to explain to an 18 year old that…It’s really difficult for them to understand that it may be best for you to sit a year and gain weight and speaking of that, he gained I think when he got there on June 12th or 13th he was 173 and he gained 20 pounds by mid-August. The first game he had gained 20 pounds, but they’re feeding him about 5500 calories a day. That’ll do it.”

(On Riley’s weight)

“I think him and Dobbs are about the same weight. He really gained a lot of weight. Every time I talk to him he says he’s got two shakes in his hand with 3 scoops of Muscle Milk in each one of them. I guess they’re force-feeding him right now.

(On Riley’s “It” factor)

“I think with Riley he’s just a fierce competitor. He wants to win at all costs, I mean, to I guess his fault where he will try to push a ball where, you know, probably shouldn’t throw. But he wants to win and proof of that is the Elite 11. We didn’t know until he got back from the Elite 11 that he had a broken thumb on his throwing hand. He was still in the top 11 after Day 3, but Day 4 he couldn’t even pick up a football without using both hands. There’s just no way a quarterback can throw in a situation like that.

(On Riley’s winning ways)

“They lost 2 games. We lost a game to Mallard Creek his junior year which is Marquez North’s team. They were our big rival. Matter of fact we just lost to them last week. They’re nationally ranked, we’re not. We graduated all these D1 guys. He lost against Mallard Creek, against Page, and he lost a game I think when he was 8 years old in Pop Warner in the championship game. He’s lost 3 until this one we lost this week so 4 now counting the Oregon game.”

(On Riley being a “gun-slinger”)

“I think he’s kind of a mini-Bray, he’s got a little bit more wheels than Tyler does for sure. And I think he throws way better rolling out of the pocket. He’s got that arm, that gun-slinger mentality that people say. He likes to get it downfield and I think his strength is the deep ball that he throws really well, deep, lays it in there pretty good. His accuracy just amazes me at times. He won a lot of these camps he went to, the accuracy awards. Of course in the Elite 11 he did well with a broken thumb, that’s kind of tough.

(On Riley and the opportunity to start in the Swamp)

“Absolutely. Yeah, he’s ready to go. He keeps telling me every day he’s hoping by the 4th game, that’s what he’s been telling me, cause I guess that’s when Peyton took over in his 3rd or 4th game. He wants to play. How I look at it, it’s gonna be tough for any of the 4 this weekend with that defense they got. I would hate for him or Dobbs or even Peterman to get in and just, yea know, get destroyed and then of course the fan base will just shred you so it’s kind of unfair. And in Worley’s case I think it’s unfair that he’s already a junior, never redshirted and people are already starting to talk beyond him as a junior. It’s a tough thing. It’s a tough thing as a parent because you want your kid to get a chance. You don’t want him to get thrown to the wolves and the fan base, you know just like anybody,  would want to protect. That’s why I was a little bit reluctant to talk on the radio, cause all of these fan sites are just, they can be brutal. They either love you or hate you.”

(On Riley learning Tennessee’s offensive system)

“He said just memorizing the plays, the book part of it has been the hardest. The speed of the game, that hasn’t been as big of a problem. It’s just learning that playbook. Being able to when Coach Bajakian asks him questions, being able to just spit out the answer without kind of rattling and looking in his notes and things like that in the meetings every morning. They have meetings, they’re there at 6 in the morning about every morning.

(On Riley running outside of the pocket)

“I think, like I said, I think his strength is rolling out if he gets pressure and rolls out of the pocket. Gaining some yards, I think he’ll get you back to the line of scrimmage, gain you 3 to 5 yards based on the blocks that he’s got. I don’t think I’d consider him the next Michael Vick or anything.

(On Riley’s mental toughness and reaction to losses)

“He doesn’t like to lose. I don’t think anybody likes to lose, but he takes it pretty tough. I think he is strong enough to put it behind him and move on to the next game. Overall he’s just a competitor. He’s been playing the position, and I think with all sports starting kids young, he started at 7 years old and he’s never played another position. I think he’s taken maybe punted twice in his career. Besides that he’s been quarterback from seventh grade all the way to where he is now.

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