Dobbs Is The Answer At Tennessee
By Dan Harralson
There are a lot of similarities to 1994 for the 2013 Tennessee Volunteers. That was Phillip Fulmer's second full year in Knoxville and his first year playing his own quarterback. Heath Shuler left the Vols early after 1993 to be the third overall pick to the Redskins. It left Fulmer searching amongst inexperienced quarterbacks to take on the reigns as signal-caller. Jerry Colquitt, Todd Helton, Brandon Stewart and Peyton Manning were the names, and we all know how that turned out with Peyton Manning's expertise of David Cutcliffe's offensive system.
Tyler Bray was a talented quarterback who never developed like he should have under then head coach Lane Kiffin and left for the NFL early. Not wanting to go through the coaching change was a major factor in Bray's early departure. A clean slate may be a better situation for Butch Jones to pave the way for a quarterback battle and to find a fit for his offense.
Justin Worley played sparingly for Bray last year, entering against Georgia State, Alabama and Vanderbilt. Worley's career passing totals stand at 63-for-110, 738 yards, one touchdown and five interceptions.
Nathan Peterman redshirted last year and is more of a pro-style quarterback that fits the previous regime's offense. Riley Ferguson is the other scholarship quarterback the Vols have on roster. Ferguson is another pro-style quarterback seemingly behind the others and should redshirt.
That leaves the incoming quarterback, Josh Dobbs. Dobbs is listed as a pro-style quarterback, but do not let that fool you. The 6-foot-3, 190-pound Dobbs is mobile and can easily be classified as a dual-threat signal caller.
Dobbs totaled 6,738 yards through the air and tossed 58 touchdowns the last two seasons. His awareness is second to none as he makes solid decisions with his legs, and not to run. He is not the "Michael Vick" type quarterback that wants to scramble. Anyone that has seen Dobbs' highlight reel knows he moves around to set up an accurate pass and will not force a bad throw.
His junior and senior season stats are almost identical, but the new Vols quarterback enhanced his passing yards per game while throwing fewer interceptions. Reading defenses is what Dobbs does well. Arizona State head coach Todd Graham knows quarterbacks and had Dobbs verbally committed until Butch Jones arrived in Knoxville and needed a quarterback to fit his offensive style.
"Obviously that wasn't the plan," Graham said of losing Dobbs to Jones. "You don't win every battle."
Take a look at Jones' previous quarterbacks at Cincinnati. Munchie Legaux put up 1,716 yards through the air on 230 attempts. On the ground, Jones allowed Munchie 407 yards on 55 attempts. After sacks, Munchie netted 335 yards.
In 2011, Jones started Zach Collaros. Collaros threw for 1,940 yards on 272 attempts and ran for 360 yards on 84 attempts, netting 234 yards. Collaros' 2010 numbers in Jones' first year: 2,902 passing yards on 383 attempts and 480 rushing yards on 121 attempts (netting 278).
Dobbs is smart decision-maker, smart enough to major in aeronautical engineering at Tennessee and to receive scholarship offers from Harvard, Yale and Princeton. Dobbs finished with a 4.0 high school GPA while being a two-sport athlete in baseball and football. His IQ allows Dobbs to use his legs when needed. His rushing statistics match what Jones wants to do. Dobbs ran the ball 98 times for 419 yards his senior season and 66 times for 200 yards his junior season.
So what does this tell you about what Jones wants to do with the quarterback position for Tennessee's offense? It highlights Dobbs' approach and will give the Vols a great chance to compete in games this year.
Dobbs can fulfill Jones' quest to bring Tennessee back to where they once were.
"It's easy to go somewhere where they're winning," Jones said. "You just become one of the guys. But these guys have a chance to create a legacy of getting Tennessee back."