Tag Archives: Josh Dobbs

Missouri beat writer Q&A: The view from Columbia

Missouri quarterback Maty Mauk (AP photo)

KNOXVILLE, Tennessee — Tennessee’s first trip to Missouri is a tougher game than anyone anticipated in August.

The Vols (4-4, 1-3) play No. 10 Missouri (7-1, 3-1) on Saturday at Faurot Field in Columbia (TV: ESPN, 7 p.m.)

For the third week in a row, I turned to an old friend from my time on the Auburn beat, which should really be known as the Cradle of Beat Writers for its alumni network around the SEC.

I asked David Morrison of the Columbia (Mo.) Tribune to answer a few questions about the team he covers. I was also extremely generous with my time in answering some of his questions here.

1. Maty Mauk has received a lot of praise for the way he’s handled the offense in the wake of James Franklin’s injury, but his completion percentage hasn’t been pretty. What’s the real story?

Mauk is a kind of high-risk, high-reward proposition at quarterback. He’s fast and knows how to make plays with his feet, but that means he also escapes the pocket too early every now and then. He’s got a very strong arm and a lot of belief in it, but that also means he opts for the home-run try when sometimes he should check down to something safer and easier to complete. Mauk’s main problem on his incomplete passes so far has been a combination of trying to fit passes into places they shouldn’t go, as well as lacking the touch needed on some of the throws he should make. He tends to throw the ball as hard as he can, no matter the depth of the route. He also tends to lock onto his first or second read, no matter how many defenders are standing around.

That being said, you can see the potential in him. His footwork is sound in the pocket and he makes strong throws, even when he knows he’s going to take a hit. The more he learns how to settle and the more patient he becomes in his route progressions, the better he’ll get.

2. Could Mizzou have been this good in 2012 if the Tigers were healthy? What else has clicked for them?

I feel like the 2013 Tigers have started so well in part because of what the 2012 Tigers went through, so I’m not sure this same group — if healthy last year — would be getting the same results. James Franklin had to go through a year of adversity  — and the criticism that followed — after his breeze of a sophomore campaign to put in the offseason of work that he did and be better suited to deal with setbacks this year. The offensive line had to go through a year of mixing and matching before finding the chemistry that’s allowing it to be one of the more solid groups in the SEC this season.

The wide receiving corps had to learn to make themselves available with an inefficient delivery system last year and have carried the skills over to the Tigers’ more polished pass game this season. The team as a whole has a kind of toughness and togetherness that bred during its first losing season since 2004 last year. It’s the kind of intangible thing that passes better for coachspeak than analysis, but I think there’s something to it on this year’s team.

3. What should fans and players expect of the atmosphere in Faurot Field this week? Will fans be deflated after last week’s loss?

Missouri fans should fill up Memorial Stadium, even with last week’s disappointment lingering. At 67,124 seats, Missouri’s home is one of the smaller ones in the SEC, but it can still get loud when things are going well for the Tigers. Just ask Florida about the mass “Gator chomp” that ensued in the stadium after Missouri’s last score put the game out of reach a couple of weeks ago. It’s kind of a late-arriving crew, but that’s mostly due to the fact that Missouri fans love their tailgates. So it’ll be a lively scene around the stadium for hours beforehand that will start translating to the seats as kickoff draws near.

Even coming off the South Carolina loss, Missouri fans seems enthused enough by the team’s start to the season and the fact that the Tigers are still very much in the SEC East race. People will come, Evan. People will most definitely come.

4. What Mizzou position group has given other teams the most matchup problems this year?

It has to be the defensive line. Michael Sam has been the revelation. He’s tops in the nation with 16 tackles for loss and tied for the national lead with 10 sacks. He’s figured out how to use his reaction time and burst on the line to make it so that it’s difficult for any lineman to get a hand on him until he’s already by. But what makes Missouri’s line so dangerous is the sheer number of pass rushers it can throw at a team.

Kony Ealy‘s the strongest of the group, and he also uses his 6-foot-5 frame to get hands up in passing lanes. He’s tied for the team lead with six passes defended this year. Then you’ve got Shane Ray — who has a sack in each of the past three games — and Markus Golden — who has fit seven tackles for loss, 2.5 sacks, two fumble recoveries and an interception into limited snaps this season. Missouri lost first-round talent in Sheldon Richardson, and somehow its line has managed to play better without him.

5. What’s your prediction for the game and why?

Missouri, 38-28. The Tigers’ rush offense has proven an ability to carve out yards against basically everyone this year, and Tennessee’s rush defense looks especially vulnerable. Missouri can’t have much of an idea of Joshua Dobbs‘ tools with the limited film it has on him, but the Tigers’ rush has been able to harass everybody it’s come across in SEC play, and a true freshman quarterback making his first career start could struggle with that as well.

If Missouri figures out how to defend the screen, plays its usual soft zones in the secondary and makes Tennessee beat it 6 or 7 yards at a time, the offense should be able to outscore the Vols.

Tennessee football practice: Vols prepare for No. 19 Florida

KNOXVILLE, Tennessee — One day after Butch Jones reopened the race for Tennessee’s starting quarterback job, he also decided to keep any secrets from leaking out about who the choice might be.

For the first time in recent memory, media were not allowed to video or photograph Tennessee’s practice on Tuesday. Jones allowed reporters to watch a small window of practice, but it offered no clue about the Vols’ quarterback race.

Unlike last week, when freshman Josh Dobbs worked with the scout team, all four quarterbacks were working out with the main unit.

Dobbs and fellow true freshman Riley Ferguson are pushing for playing time against starter Justin Worley and redshirt freshman backup Nathan Peterman.

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Tennessee football practice: After Monday practice, Vols get short break (video and photos)

KNOXVILLE, Tennessee — Few argue that the offensive line is the strongest part of Tennessee’s football team.

Is it also the most important unit to the Vols’ success in 2013? John Adams weighs in with a column in today’s paper. I wrote about line coach Don Mahoney and how he worked to earn the trust of his new players. Brendan Quinn talked to running backs coach Robert Gillespie, who insists the Vols have no true No. 1 tailback.

The video is brief, because there wasn’t a whole lot to shoot on Monday. The Vols won’t have open practices on Tuesday or Wednesday. They’ll be back on the field Thursday, but camp is essentially over.

A few images from Monday:

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Tennessee football practice: Quick review of Monday’s session

Don Mahoney, Tennessee

Tennessee offensive line coach Don Mahoney instructs players during practice at Haslam Field on Aug. 5, 2013, in Knoxville. (Photos by Evan Woodbery)

KNOXVILLE, Tennessee — Tennessee did some team work in the early session of Monday afternoon’s practice. The brief window offered few concrete details, but did reinforce how difficult it is for freshmen quarterbacks to win a starting job in August.

We’ll have more after we talk to coach Butch Jones and players later this evening.

* Among the notable plays from our view of the team work was a bad snap by third-string center Dylan Wiesman, a freshman, that sent quarterback Riley Ferguson scrambling after the ball.

Ferguson later threw an interception right in the numbers of safety Tino Thomas.

Co-third-team quarterback Josh Dobbs didn’t fare better, as he dropped a snap that hit off his hands in the last play we saw of the team drills before we had to leave for the evening.

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#PracticeGram: Scenes from Tennessee football this weekend

KNOXVILLE, Tennessee — It’s back by popular demand.

Our Tennessee football #PracticeGram will provide an unfiltered (and sometimes slightly filtered) view from the sidelines.

Check out the photo gallery below and follow me on Twitter and Instagram to see it live.

For some even better photos by professionals, check out photo galleries on GoVolsXtra.

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Tennessee football: Practice highlights and interviews from Day 1 (videos)

KNOXVILLE, Tennessee — The Vols will retake the field for their second practice of training camp at about 3:40 p.m. this afternoon.

In the meantime, check out our collection of videos from the first day, including some shots of newcomers Josh Dobbs, Riley Ferguson and MarQuez North (above).

Tennessee football practice: First day for Butch Jones’ crew

KNOXVILLE, Tennessee — A steamy late afternoon practice at Haslam Field is in the books.

Here are some hastily assembled observations from the open media session. We’ll have more after we talk to players and coaches in a few minutes…

* We saw a lot of veterans trying to help out the younger players. In particular I noticed Jacob Carter helping out some of the freshmen. When freshman Ryan Jenkins messed up on a drill, receivers coach Zach Azzanni said something like, “It’s not your fault,” and implied that players needed to help each other along in the drills.

* Freshman quarterback Josh Dobbs looks a lot more like a football player when he’s in a jersey. He looked incredibly skinny when he was on the sidelines watching practice in street clothes this spring, and he could still add some pounds. But he didn’t look out of place among the other quarterbacks.

* As for Dobbs and fellow freshmen Riley Ferguson, I don’t think we saw enough in Day 1 to register any sort of informed opinion. They weren’t asked to do a lot — at least not while we watching.

* We saw a lot of young guys working on fielding returns, including receiver Josh Smith and defensive back Malik Foreman.

* Walk-on running back Justus Pickett, a Maryland transfer, was working out with his teammates. We’ll see if we get any clarification on his status this weekend.

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How would free agent QB Connor Brewer fit in at Tennessee?

Connor Brewer

Connor Brewer plans to transfer from Texas (photo from KNS partner 247Sports)

KNOXVILLE, TennesseeConnor Brewer, a highly recruited prep quarterback who signed with Texas in 2012, is back on the market.

Several teams have expressed interest, including Tennessee, but Brewer has said that has his choice might take time.

Brewer would presumably like to be at his new school for the start of fall camp, which begins on Aug. 1 at Tennessee, although even that deadline is artificial. Brewer will have to sit out the 2013 season, so there’s no urgency for him to arrive at his new school as long as he gets enrolled by the start of classes.

Brewer redshirted in 2012, so he will have three years to play three when he is eligible to play in 2014.

If, hypothetically, Brewer chooses Tennessee (and the Vols agree to take him), where would he fit in?

UT has four scholarship quarterbacks on the roster, plus invited freshman walk-on Charlie High. But only one of those five quarterbacks has any college experience. So the position isn’t a strength.

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