Nov. 12, 2013
By Brian Rice KNOXVILLE, Tenn.
KNOXVILLE, Tenn.- Communication is a skill on the football field that cannot be taught, it must be developed. It is perhaps the most important skill that a quarterback can possess and it's one that Joshua Dobbs has worked on from his first snaps in game action at Tennessee.
The development has progressed, but it hasn't always been an easy process. Like building a program brick by brick, Dobbs and his offensive line have had to construct lines of communication, lines that become clearer with every snap.
"I feel like he's grown every week," senior offensive lineman James Stone said. "When he came in during the Alabama game he showed great poise and he's had great communication with the offensive line throughout these weeks and I've seen a lot of improvement from him as he continues to grow."
Dobbs can feel the communication growing as well.
"I've learned a lot every time I step on the field," he said. "It's a learning opportunity, there's a lot we can take from the game and a lot we can continue to grow as a team. Those game experiences are really valuable. For receivers the timing has improved, for the line getting down our communication with what we're seeing on the field, making sure we're seeing the same things."
Most new quarterbacks have an opportunity to build that communication over the summer or as fall camp progresses. Dobbs didn't have that luxury. He entered the game against the Tide after an injury forced Justin Worley out of the lineup mid game with fellow quarterback Nathan Peterman already sidelined. With the two experienced QBs ahead of him in fall camp, Dobbs' snaps with the starters were limited.
"We worked with him, but didn't work with him as much as we did the older guys during training camp," Stone said. "To get in there and get a feel for each other, to make a connection between the offensive line and the quarterback, he's doing a great job trying to build that."
As the communication with his teammates has grown, so has the confidence in Dobbs from the Tennessee coaching staff. Dobbs has made impressive throws, but his ability to make plays with his legs has become a potent weapon for the Vol offense.
"We called a few more, that was just the way the flow of the game was going," Dobbs said of called runs for him in the Auburn game. "They worked with the looks we were getting and we were able to execute them and be successful."
In just three games, he has risen to be the team's fourth-leading rusher with 114 yards on 20 carries. Despite that total including sack yardage, Dobbs' average stands at nearly six yards per carry.
"They want me to be smart in the pass game and the run game and make sure I' protecting the football and going through my reads. If I have to pull the ball down and run, then to make sure I'm chinning the ball and protecting it."
The Volunteers have two games to get two wins and reach the team's stated goal of going to a bowl game. With the games ahead literally being must-wins, Dobbs doesn't feel additional pressure. The way he sees it, winning games is his job.
"I wouldn't say there's any pressure, " Dobbs said. "Every game is a must-win. That's our goal every time we go out, every time we step on the field. We need to take this bye week to go out and get better."