Even with little QB depth, Vols want Josh Dobbs to run

Freshman told to just manage game

Tennessee quarterback Joshua Dobbs (11) runs with the ball escaping Alabama defensive back Landon Collins (26) during the second half Saturday, Oct. 26, 2013 at Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa, Ala.  (MICHAEL PATRICK/NEWS SENTINEL)

Photo by Michael Patrick, copyright © 2013

Tennessee quarterback Joshua Dobbs (11) runs with the ball escaping Alabama defensive back Landon Collins (26) during the second half Saturday, Oct. 26, 2013 at Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa, Ala. (MICHAEL PATRICK/NEWS SENTINEL)

Josh Dobbs, Tennessee’s newly named starting quarterback, stepped out of the quarterbacks meeting room this week and walked down the hallway to where the offensive line was meeting.

His message, according to coach Butch Jones? “I need you, and we’re going to get this done.”

More than anything else, Dobbs needs the veteran offensive line to keep him safe when the Vols (4-3, 1-3 SEC) play No. 10 Missouri (7-1, 3-1) on Saturday (TV: ESPN, 7 p.m.) at Faurot Field in Columbia, Mo.

Coaches are excited by the prospect of adding a new dimension to the offense — Dobbs’ ability to run. But they also must be cautious. Starter Justin Worley is out indefinitely after surgery this week on his thumb. Redshirt freshman Nathan Peterman appears to be at least another week away from being ready. True freshman Riley Ferguson, the only other scholarship quarterback on the roster, has battled a foot injury (although Jones has said it’s not serious).

After Dobbs, the choices are slim. The Vols must plan for even seemingly unlikely possibilities: What happens if Dobbs gets his helmet knocked off and must, by rule, leave the game for one play? Do the Vols burn Ferguson’s redshirt for that one snap? Is there an emergency option at the ready? What if it’s a crucial snap?

“I don’t think you can ever play scared, no matter what position you’re in,” said Tennessee offensive coordinator Mike Bajakian on Wednesday. “We’re going out to win the game. That’s the goal. We’re not going to keep any bullets in the gun.”

Coaches have gushed about Dobbs’ poise since he entered Tennessee’s game at No. 1 Alabama in the second half last Saturday. So his charisma with teammates isn’t surprising.

“I didn’t know (Dobbs planned to address the offensive linemen). But I’m not surprised, either,” said Bajakian. “That’s the kind of guy he is and that’s the presence he has.”

At the same time, coaches are perhaps less giddy than fans who expect a rejuvenated offense to accompany Dobbs’ ascension.

The Vols are going on the road against a top-10 team with a solid defense with a true freshman quarterback who has all of five career completions to his name.

Asked about Dobbs’ performance during his one half in the 45-10 loss at Alabama, Bajakian was circumspect.

“As is always the case, there are positives and negatives, things he could improve upon and things he did well,” Bajakian said. “He’s come a long way since he arrived on campus, since our first practice. There’s stuff we identified in the course of the game that he could improve upon and he’ll continue to work on. But overall he handled the situation well. We’re looking forward to how he’ll handle this game that he’s starting.”

Jones said he’s told Dobbs that he doesn’t need to win the game, just manage it.

He offered similar advice to Worley, and the Vols’ offense was at its best when Worley — and his receivers — were making the routine plays while avoiding turnovers at all costs.

Now the stage belongs to the true freshman.

“He started at ground zero and now I feel he has a great grasp of the offense,” Bajakian said. “We’re going to use his skill set to our advantage.”

Follow Evan Woodbery at www.Twitter.com/TennesseeBeat.

© 2013 govolsxtra.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Comments » 10

Oldhickory writes:

To have Josh Dobbs start as the quarterback for The Tennessee Volunteers is a fanststic opportunity for the team that I believe is on the same level as Daryl Dickey coming off the bench in 1985 for the injured Tony Robinson to save Tennessee's season. Go Big Orange and go Josh Dobbs!

slb1zellwood#1421797 writes:

in response to Oldhickory:

To have Josh Dobbs start as the quarterback for The Tennessee Volunteers is a fanststic opportunity for the team that I believe is on the same level as Daryl Dickey coming off the bench in 1985 for the injured Tony Robinson to save Tennessee's season. Go Big Orange and go Josh Dobbs!

I surely hope you are right my friend.

TommyJack writes:

Doubt they're concerned about burning Ferguson's shirt.

underthehill writes:

I feel sure the staff has worked with Dobbs on sliding to avoid unnecessary contact..I hope he don't get carried away trying to get the extra yards..RG3 had to learn the hard way..I hope that ain't the case with Dobbs...if he stays healthy..I have no doubt he is the qb the Vols need..

johnlg00 writes:

in response to underthehill:

I feel sure the staff has worked with Dobbs on sliding to avoid unnecessary contact..I hope he don't get carried away trying to get the extra yards..RG3 had to learn the hard way..I hope that ain't the case with Dobbs...if he stays healthy..I have no doubt he is the qb the Vols need..

Unless the QB in question is a Tim Tebow or Cam Newton, there is always going to be a risk when a QB runs. Somebody with quick feet and a quick mind can run selectively and be very effective at it. Josh seems to be a heady player who won't run just for the heck of it, but he is kind of slender at this point in his career, so one solid, crunching hit could really ring his bell, and then where would we be? My guess is that there will be a wildcat package with Howard, or maybe even Johnson on the goal line. Almost anything is a risk for this team with as few proven playmakers as they have.

MooseandSquirrelVol writes:

in response to johnlg00:

Unless the QB in question is a Tim Tebow or Cam Newton, there is always going to be a risk when a QB runs. Somebody with quick feet and a quick mind can run selectively and be very effective at it. Josh seems to be a heady player who won't run just for the heck of it, but he is kind of slender at this point in his career, so one solid, crunching hit could really ring his bell, and then where would we be? My guess is that there will be a wildcat package with Howard, or maybe even Johnson on the goal line. Almost anything is a risk for this team with as few proven playmakers as they have.

Wasn't it Aldon Hill who threw a td pass last year out of the wildcat?

sfox writes:

Didn't "Tiny" play quarterback in middle school?

wigmeister writes:

Pass, Pass, Run, Run, Run Faster! SLIIIIIDE! WHEW!

OrangePride writes:

Here's something we can all keep perspective on. Missouri has a red-shirt freshman at QB who had never started til a few weeks ago. They have an experience edge, yes; but it's a slim edge. As for Dobbs running, I think it is the big added element he offers. My only hope is they taught him to slide and not take those big-time hits; he doesn't have the body type for that just now. Who backs him up? Well, actually there are other QB's on the roster who could come in for one play......and if it's fourth and two with the game on the line, we can take time out or put in a wildcat. IF that don't work, call my cell. I've got a year of eligibility left and I'm good for one down. GO VOLS!!

johnlg00 writes:

in response to MooseandSquirrelVol:

Wasn't it Aldon Hill who threw a td pass last year out of the wildcat?

If so, I had forgotten about it. I know I read at one point that they were working with Howard in a wildcat package and of course you remember big ol' AJ taking a couple in from the goal line in past years. I just hope it doesn't come to that as a regular thing! Using either of them that way takes away both practice reps and game snaps from two of the team's relatively few playmakers.

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