Manhandled In Mizzou
By Dan Harralson
The Missouri Tigers showed no sign of an overtime loss hangover, manhandling the Vols the week after suffering its first defeat of the season against South Carolina.
Missouri dominated the game from the start. Bottom line, the Tigers' playmakers were a luxury that made the difference in the game. Players like Dorial Green-Beckham, Marcus Lucas and L'Damian Washington, all of whom reeled in touchdown receptions.
The story on and off the field this week was Josh Dobbs and how he would fair as the Vols' starting quarterback. It did not start well for the freshman. Dobbs went 26-of-42 for 240 passing yards, no touchdowns and two interceptions.
With Justin Worley and Nathan Peterman both banged up, Ferguson would be called upon if anything were to happen to Dobbs. Taking a redshirt off of another freshman this late in the season is not what Tennessee wants to encounter.
Yet Dobbs made his first collegiate start, tucked the ball and ran seven times for 45 yards. That showed Tennessee will allow Dobbs to play to his full potential.
How Missouri Bounced Back After The Carolina Loss
Gary Pinkel had his Missouri Tigers well prepared Saturday night. The win allows Mizzou to continue their pursuit of playing in Atlanta. Some questions surfaced about whether Missouri could bounce back from last week's heartbreaking overtime loss, and they did.
"Why in the world would you ask about last week's game when there's so much out there," Pinkel said in the postgame presser. "A little common sense here. Are you kidding me?"
What This Win Means For The East Race
Two things were obvious Saturday night in Columbia. Missouri was dominant and they were coached very well to avoid a mental setback after the Carolina loss.
Missouri now sits at 8-1 overall and 4-1 in the conference. Three games remain and all three are critical if Pinkel's Tigers want to shock the conference and make a SEC championship game appearance. The Tigers play at Kentucky (Saturday), at Ole Miss (Nov. 23), and host Texas A&M (Nov. 30).
Mizzou needs to at least go 2-1 down the stretch. Still, even going 2-1 will not guarantee an SEC East crown. South Carolina, which owns the tiebreaker over the Tigers, has one conference game remaining. Carolina hosts Florida in two weeks and a win places Steve Spurrier's team in the clubhouse with an opportunity to win the East if Missouri drops at least one game.
Where Does Tennessee Go From Here?
The Dobbs era has begun and he can start writing his legacy with two wins against Vanderbilt and Kentucky down the stretch.
This week against Auburn will be a tough task, but the Vols can still go bowling with wins against the Commodores and 'Cats.
Butch Jones remains confident in Dobbs and that was apparent in allowing a freshman quarterback, making his first career start, to throw the ball as much as he did.
"He understood the things he did wrong tonight, and he'll get better with that," Jones said of Dobbs. "We have to get some cadence things corrected. But I didn't think we had anyone step up and help him tonight."
Hats off to Jones for allowing Dobbs to be unleashed. Deep balls throughout the game showed Tennessee will have a presence in the passing game for the remaining three games.
"We just have to help paint a picture for him — get our timing down," wide receiver Pig Howard said. "We need to just get open and do the right things."