New Tennessee Volunteers head coach Butch Jones is busy instilling his method and attitude with his new team. But his biggest job for the 2013 season will be to replace several key components of what was an explosive offense in 2013.
Most notably, the Vols need to find a replacement for quarterback Tyler Bray. Last season, Bray started all 12 games for Tennessee, connecting on 268-of-451 passing (59.4 percent) for 3,612 yards, with 34 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. During his career in Knoxville, Bray passed for 7,444 yards, with 69 touchdowns and 28 interceptions.
After the 2012 season, in which Bray was a junior, the Big Orange signal caller elected to pass up his final year of eligibility and to apply for the NFL Draft. Bray’s departure leaves a hole the size of Neyland Stadium in the Vols’ plans for 2013. Even though the move was expected, Bray will still be tough to replace.
The player projected to be in line for the starting quarterback job is junior-to-be Justin Worley. Last season, Worley played in just five games. He was 15-of-23 through the air for 134 yards, with no touchdowns and two interceptions. As a freshman, Worley played in four games, completing 48-of-87 passes for 604 yards, with one scoring pass and three picks.
The wild card in the quarterback race could be 2013 signee Joshua Dobbs. The 6-3, 190-pound Dobbs was rated as a four-star prospect by nearly every recruiting service. Dobbs is known for his intelligence, proven by the fact that he had scholarship offers from not only the Arizona State Sun Devils, the Arkansas Razorbacks and the TCU Horned Frogs, but also Harvard, Princeton and Yale.
Dobbs is a pro-style quarterback, which is just what Jones needs for his system. Dobbs also has quick feet and good speed, which will bode well for him against tough Southeastern Conference defenses.
The quarterback battle in Knoxville will be interesting to watch, with either Worley or Dobbs eventually being selected to replace Bray. Jones’ decision will be one of the first big, tough decisions he has to make to return the Big Orange to the level that fans in Knoxville expect.