Volunteer QB Josh Dobbs makes statement in loss to Alabama
Tennessee lost the game 34-20 to Alabama on Saturday night, but might’ve gained a quarterback of the future – and the present – in the process.
When starter Justin Worley (shoulder) was ruled out Friday, Tennessee coach Butch Jones named backup quarterback Nathan Peterman the starter for Saturday’s contest against No. 4 Alabama.
But when Peterman was ineffective for a couple drive, the Vols turned to Dobbs, who they had planned to redshirt this season, and found some of the results they were looking for.
“Josh Dobbs provided a spark for us,” said Jones.”It adds a whole other element and dimension offensively. You have Jalen Hurd in the backfield and Josh Malone. Our tight ends, now, just (opponents) can’t pin their ears back and come after you because being able to run the quarterback, move the pocket and do some different things.”
The Vols fell into a massive 27-0 hole against the talented Crimson Tide squad at Neyland Stadium, but Dobbs rallied the Vols back into contention. Dobbs threw a pair of 9-yard touchdown passes in the contest, one to freshman Josh Malone and the other to junior Von Pearson, to help pull the Vols all the way back within 10 points at 27-17 in the third quarter.
Dobbs’ arm played a big role in that, but his feet were also dangerous. He finished the game 19-of-32 for 192 yards with two passing touchdowns and added 75 yards on the ground. It was the most yardage running gained by a Tennessee quarterback since Tee Martin had 81 yards in 1999.
“It opens up a lot,” Dobbs said of his ability to run. “Our line did a good job of making holes for me, and when they do that, we also have Jalen Hurd and Marlin Lane, which are our two dynamic backs, and we have good weapons on the outside. So we are just able to use everyone.”
“Oh yeah, Josh did a great job,” added receiver Marquez North, who finished with four catches for 56 yards. “He just came out there moving the chains, doing his job, pulling it when he needed to, and making his right reads in progression.”
It wasn’t a perfect sophomore debut for Dobbs, who did turn the ball over twice. One was a costly fumble that set the Tide up for their fourth early touchdown of the game, a 28-yard run by quarterback Blake Sims. And the other was a second-half interception that slowed the Vols’ momentum as they attempted to come back from their poor start.
“I feel like I played well, of course there is always room for improvement,” Dobbs said. “I know we had two turnovers tonight. So we’ve got to eliminate that. The first maxim is ‘the team that makes the fewer mistakes will win.’ So we have to do a good job of eliminating those turnovers in practice, but there is a lot of positives we can take out of the game.”
Jones confirmed that Worley’s shoulder injury will keep him out indefinitely. Even if the senior is able to return this season, Dobbs was impressive enough to make a claim for the full-time starting gig as the Vols look for at least three wins in their final four games in order to become bowl eligible.
“We’ll continue to compete like we do,” Jones said. “It’s just kind of the flow of the game with leaving [Dobbs] in. We felt we needed to run the quarterback a little bit more. That’s why we stayed with him. We’ll continue to rep Nathan Peterman. There’s no timetable on Justin Worley right now, so we’ll be in a wait-and-see mode.”
Many fans won’t want to wait. They saw what Dobbs could do on Saturday and are hoping to see more in the near future. And though the Vols lost a game to their bitter rivals and former coach Lane Kiffin on Saturday, they may have gained some confidence and a quarterback going forward.