Tag Archives: Joshua Dobbs

Tennessee’s offense after Riley Ferguson: QB’s departure is bad news for 2014

Riley Ferguson in an interview this spring (photo by Evan Woodbery)

KNOXVILLE, TennesseeRiley Ferguson has been the perfect subject for that segment of the fan base prone to extreme and sudden swings of emotion.

A few weeks ago, according to some, he was the best the quarterback on the team. (His main qualification for that honor was that he was the only who had yet to take a college snap.)

Today, just as many contend that his departure is no big deal, and the Vols will be fine without him.

In fact, when he surprised coaches with the news that he didn’t plan to return to Knoxville, Ferguson still had a shot of winning the starting quarterback job. Despite a bumpy spring, I still think he had the best chance of any of the three competitors vying to unseat senior Justin Worley.

That’s what makes his departure so stunning. Coaches had invested a lot of time and effort into his development for a reason. They thought — and still think — he could be a good SEC quarterback. And now he appears to be ready to transfer to a lower-division team without even taking a snap?

Ferguson hasn’t returned a request for comment, so we haven’t heard his side of his decision to transfer. But he apparently indicated to coaches that he felt more comfortable back home.

Twitter myths notwithstanding, coaches didn’t “run off” Ferguson. They wanted him to stay. In fact, Butch Jones has carefully parsed every comment he makes about the quarterback situation with the express intent of discouraging anyone from transferring.

Ferguson did not arrive on campus with the same maturity as, say, Joshua Dobbs. Ferguson was high-maintenance. And he was certainly not out of quarterback central casting like his three other colleagues. But he had enough natural talent that coaches were to work with his strengths while they tried to fix his flaws.

If one quarterback seizes the reins of the offense this spring and stays healthy, Ferguson might be largely forgotten by November. But if the Vols suffer a rash of injuries  (like they did in 2013) or if none of the quarterbacks perform consistently (again, see 2013) then the loss of the inscrutable but talented Ferguson will really sting.

Justin Worley, Joshua Dobbs train with QB guru George Whitfield

KNOXVILLE, Tennessee — Quarterback guru George Whitfield Jr. had two familiar faces among his pupils this week in San Diego.

Vols senior Justin Worley and sophomore Joshua Dobbs trained with the noted quarterbacks coach. Check out Whitfield’s timeline for some of the other quarterbacks who worked with him this week.

Worley and Dobbs, of course, are among the four quarterbacks vying for the starting job at Tennessee.

Whitfield is a respected quarterbacks coach best known for grooming players like Cam Newton in advance of the NFL draft. But he also works with high school and college kids.

The group even had time to visit with the San Diego Padres and meet manager Bud Black.

Joshua Dobbs shares video of 60-yard pass hitting crossbar with a ping

KNOXVILLE, Tennessee — Viral videos showing incredible feats of athleticism usually end up being a guerrilla marketing campaign for a sports drink.

But I have to think this video of Joshua Dobbs hitting the cross bar from 60 yards out is legit. It even has a great “ping” sound.

But was it actually his first try? Or did this bit of Instagram magic require multiple takes? I’ll give Dobbs the benefit of the doubt.

Tennessee spring practice 2014: The quarterbacks

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With spring practice less than a week away, we’re revisiting some of our projections from the post-season. Today: The quarterbacks.

Tennessee quarterbacks in practice (photo by Evan Woodbery)

KNOXVILLE, Tennessee — Tennessee used three of its four quarterbacks this year, so perhaps it’s predictable that the one quarterback who didn’t play is the fan favorite to win the job in 2014.

Redshirt freshman Riley Ferguson does, in fact, have a strong chance of earning the No. 1 spot, but the race should be every bit as wide open as it was over the summer.

Justin Worley, who will be a senior, had two solid games in October when the Vols were playing their best. Joshua Dobbs got valuable experience after Worley was hurt. Nathan Peterman will have to overcome a rough performance at Florida.

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Tennessee football position preview: Quarterback battle is wide open

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The fourth in a series of position-by-position reviews of the Tennessee football team with an eye toward the start of spring practice in three months.

Tennessee quarterbacks in practice (photo by Evan Woodbery)

KNOXVILLE, Tennessee — Tennessee used three of its four quarterbacks this year, so perhaps it’s predictable that the one quarterback who didn’t play is the fan favorite to win the job in 2014.

Redshirt freshman Riley Ferguson does, in fact, have a strong chance of earning the No. 1 spot, but the race should be every bit as wide open as it was over the summer.

Justin Worley, who will be a senior, had two solid games in October when the Vols were playing their best. Joshua Dobbs got valuable experience after Worley was hurt. Nathan Peterman will have to overcome a rough performance at Florida.

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Vols-Kentucky: Wrapping up a bumpy 2013 season (videos and photos)

KNOXVILLE, Tennessee — The buzzword of the week for Butch Jones and his team was “1-0” and the Vols finished with that mark after beating Kentucky on Saturday night in Lexington.

For all the talk of positive momentum after the win, someone quite sensibly asked, “What if Tennessee had lost?” The only positive momentum then would be the force with which this season was consigned to the trash basket.

Jones, true to style, said he plan for everything, including that contingency. Fortunately, it won’t be necessary.

The seniors can leave on a positive note after an otherwise bleak four- or five-year stretch, and Jones and his staff can turn their attention completely to recruiting.

Thanks for following me this year. I’m going to take the next nine months off and see you in August.

Just kidding! We’ll have tons of content between now and spring practice, including a lot of interesting recruiting stuff, some very early position previews and anything else that I have time for. If you have any questions or ideas, let me know.

For now, check out the video montage from last night above, some video interviews below, as well as some photos from before and after the game. Watch the video in your highest HD settings for best results.

Joshua Dobbs and receivers warm up before Kentucky game (video)

LEXINGTON, Kentucky — Will Nathan Peterman get a chance to play in the final game of the season?

Butch Jones reaffirmed this week that Joshua Dobbs was his starting quarterback, but if he struggles as he did in the first half last week against Vanderbilt, Jones might be presented with some interesting decisions.

Watch the video above in your highest HD settings for best results.

Butch Jones offers no doubt: With 1 game left, this is Joshua Dobbs’ show

Butch Jones in Monday’s press conference (photos by Evan Woodbery)

KNOXVILLE, Tennessee — Freshman Joshua Dobbs will finish the season as Tennessee’s top quarterback, Vols coach Butch Jones said Monday.

Once spring begins, however, the four-man competition is back on.

Jones confirmed during a speech before the Knoxville Quarterback Club later Monday that Riley Ferguson, the Vols’ other freshman quarterback, fractured his tibia before the Alabama game.

Jones had previously acknowledged Ferguson’s injury, but not described its extent.

Even now, Jones said Ferguson is only “85 percent” healthy.

Josh Dobbs warms up before the Vanderbilt game (photo by Evan Woodbery)

What about redshirt freshman Nathan Peterman? He had a disastrous debut at Florida earlier this season and injured his thumb. But he’s back and appears healthy. Could he play against Kentucky?

“Joshua Dobbs will be our starting quarterback,” Jones replied.

Dobbs completed 11 of 19 passes for 53 yards against Vanderbilt. He threw two interceptions in the first half.

“I thought Saturday he showed his age a little bit,” Jones said. “Everything was kind of happening very fast for him.”

Vols’ offense has shifted under Joshua Dobbs

Neyland Stadium before the game on Nov. 23, 2013.

KNOXVILLE, Tennessee — Tennessee uses about five times as many five-receiver and two-back sets under freshman quarterback Joshua Dobbs than it did before he took the reins.

Joshua Dobbs (photo by Evan Woodbery)

The Vols’ new look on offense was the subject of a subscriber-only story on GVX this morning. You can cheat and check out the explanatory graphic here for free.

The Vols (4-6, 1-5 SEC) play Vanderbilt (6-4, 3-4) today at 7 p.m. (TV: ESPN2). You can follow our free live blog on GoVolsXtra starting one hour before kickoff.

Auburn beat writer Q&A: The view from the Plains

Gus Malzahn

Auburn coach Gus Malzahn calls out to his team in the second half of an NCAA college football game against LSU in Baton Rouge, La., Saturday, Sept. 21, 2013. LSU won 35-21. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

KNOXVILLE, Tennessee — A year ago, Auburn beat writers were preparing themselves for a possible coaching search as the Tigers limped to a winless SEC season.

Today Auburn is one of the most impressive stories in college football and coach Gus Malzahn is a possible coach of the year candidate.

The Vols (4-5, 1-4 SEC) play No. 7 Auburn (8-1, 4-1) on Saturday at Neyland Stadium (TV: ESPN, noon).

We asked Auburn beat writer Joel Erickson a few questions about the Tigers. You can follow Joel on Twitter and read his coverage here.

1. How surprising is Auburn’s 8-1 record and why do you think Gus Malzahn has been able to have so much success in Year 1?

Pretty surprising, particularly after the way the Tigers finished in their final three SEC games of 2012. In those games, against Texas A&M, Georgia and Alabama, Auburn allowed touchdowns on 16 of 18 first-half possessions, and a closer look at some of the stats reveals just how different it’s been. For example, Auburn is averaging more than double its rushing output from last season, the Tigers’ quarterbacks are currently 65 spots higher in pass efficiency, the defense is allowing 8.2 points per game less than the 2012 version and the ability to close in the fourth quarter has absolutely flip-flopped. For what it’s worth, most people expected Auburn to take some small steps before taking the big ones.

Malzahn started things off by hiring an experienced, well-regarded staff with a lot of SEC experience, and the impact of the 2013 signing class has been impressive. Quarterback Nick Marshall has been the breakout player so far, but the Tigers also signed a lot of players — running back Cameron Artis-Payne, wide receiver Marcus Davis, defensive linemen Carl Lawson, Elijah Daniel and Montravius Adams, among others — who have played key rotational roles and come up big in key moments. Malzahn has also taken a relatively hard line on discipline, a problem for the previous team, and the staff has done a good job of identifying playmakers who were either pushed to the backburner by the previous staff (hybrid Robenson Therezie) or hadn’t made much of an impact yet (wide receiver Sammie Coates, left guard Alex Kozan, linebacker Kris Frost).

2. Auburn only threw like two passes last week. What’s with that?

In a couple of SEC games, Auburn has focused on its running game as a way to get the defense rest after the opposing team churns out yardage and keeps that unit on the field. Arkansas ran 46 plays in the first half compared to just 22 for Auburn, and the time of possession was wildly in the Razorbacks’ favor. With that in mind, Auburn tried to stick to the ground to even that out a little bit — although the Tigers scored too quickly to flip the time discrepancy — and then used the running game in the second half to salt it away. What’s been interesting this season is that Auburn has regularly been able to run the ball against stacked eight and nine-man fronts, and when the Tigers have been able to do that, Malzahn has been perfectly comfortable sticking to the ground game.

3. What is Auburn’s biggest weakness and how successful have opponents been in exploiting it?

Auburn has had some trouble against offenses that run a power rushing attack, for two reasons. One, the Tigers have had trouble with missed assignments, poor angles and missed gaps in the running game, and two, because those kinds of offenses can keep Auburn’s offense off the field. LSU, obviously, had plenty of success in a first quarter that proved to be the difference in the game, Mississippi State took a 20-17 lead into the final two minutes and Arkansas could have made things interesting if the Razorbacks hadn’t missed on two red-zone opportunities in the first half. Passing offenses have picked up yards against Auburn, but the Tigers tend to string out those types of opponents and force mistakes.

4. Is Auburn’s success sustainable? In other words, could you see Auburn returning to where it was before the disaster in 2012 — consistently competing at the top of the SEC West?

I think it is. Malzahn’s obviously got a proven offensive track record, and in Ellis Johnson, he’s found a defensive leader who isn’t likely to leave any time soon. Beyond that, Malzahn brought in some heavy recruiting muscle in assistants Dameyune Craig, Rodney Garner and Tim Horton, and the coaching staff has already shown a good eye for the kind of talent that will fit well in the scheme.

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

I picked Auburn over Tennessee 31-17, mainly because the Volunteers, although great at home, seem to be a bad matchup for what the Tigers do best. Auburn is the SEC’s best rushing offense, and Tennessee has struggled against those kinds of teams. In addition, Auburn has a penchant for magnifying the mistakes of quarterbacks, and Joshua Dobbs is still making only his second start.