Oct. 29, 2013
By Brian Rice KNOXVILLE, Tenn.
KNOXVILLE, Tenn.- For the third time in nine games this season, Tennessee will have a new starting quarterback on Saturday when the Vols travel to No. 10 Missouri.
Ironically, the circumstances around Dobbs' first start mirror those around Worley's first nod two seasons ago. Worley came on late in Tennessee's loss to Alabama in 2011 after an injury sidelined starter Tyler Bray and left the quarterback situation unsettled, with Matt Simms and Worley behind on the depth chart. Worley made his first-career start a week later against South Carolina.
Dobbs came on in relief after an injury to Worley, first suffered against USC, was aggravated in the first half against Alabama. Dobbs was 5-12 for 75 against the Crimson Tide and led a pair of second-half scoring drives. Now, he draws the starting assignment in an SEC game a week later.
"It'll be a great challenge for him in a great venue against a great opponent," head coach Butch Jones said of Dobbs' opportunity. "I know that he's looking forward to that."
The guys charged with catching the passes Dobbs will throw aren't expecting any fall-off at the quarterback position.
"He's wired different," Pig Howard said of Dobbs. "He's a leader. He came in from day one working hard and knowing the playbook inside and out."
The offensive line that will stand between him and a potent Missouri pass rush is confident in the freshman, partly because of the maturity that he brings to the huddle.
"No matter who is behind us, we know we have to protect," senior Zach Fulton said. "We know they are going to do their job, we have confidence in them. He's a more vocal leader than anything, he's taking command of the offensive line, making sure that we're lined up, taking care of the little things like a quarterback should do."
That Dobbs got an entire half of game action was important. The fact that it came on the road against the top-ranked team in the country only underscores how impressive he was in his debut and how much that experience will help in another tough environment in Columbia.
"It was pretty exciting to see the things he was doing on the field in the short amount of time," said Fulton in reference to Dobbs' game action against Alabama that also included 19 rushing yards on three carries. "It gives us a little more confidence seeing him do the things he did."
"The live game reps that he received last week are very, very beneficial," Jones said. "Now, to have the amount of first-team reps will be big. Everyone asks with a freshman quarterback if you have to scale back your offensive package, it's quite to the contrary."