Worley will be out for a month after surgery on his thumb which made the decision to start Dobbs an easy one considering the other options, Riley Ferguson (likely redshirting) and Nathan Peterman, are recovering from injuries.
However, Dobbs was rightfully given the keys to the Tennessee offense, and they can now see what he can do to possibly be the future at the position. Dobbs was a consensus four-star recruit and a top-10 pro-style quarterback according to the 247sports composite rankings, and was one of the team’s biggest commitments in the 2013 recruiting class.
We’ve seen what Worley can do on the field and he didn’t leave a lot to be desired, so when you’re rebuilding, you have to have an eye toward the future. Granted, you are still trying to win while planning for the future, and Dobbs meets both of those criteria. I wrote in April that we would see Dobbs starting for Tennessee this season, and that time has finally come.
Dobbs led two scoring drives against the No. 1-ranked scoring defense at Alabama in the second half, which was equal to what the two-time defending champs had allowed in the previous four games combined. He was 5-of-12 passing with 75 yards, but he showed leadership and composure, and didn’t look to be starstruck by the opponent.
Dobbs will see a stout Missouri defensive line led by the nation’s sack leader in Michael Sam, who is reeling after their first loss of the season, but Dobbs will be expected to enter Columbia and walk out with the team’s first road win over a ranked opponent since 2006.
The upset may not come this week or next vs. Auburn, but the potential is apparent for Dobbs, who should be able to do more with the offense than Worley and use his feet to pick up yards and make better pre-snap reads. Despite being a true freshman, the playbook will not be limited and, in fact, may allow Butch Jones and the offense to open it up a bit.
One of biggest questions entering the season for Tennessee was when — not if — we would see Dobbs, and for the Volunteers. they get a glimpse into the future of the program on Saturday evening.
Dobbs will have some growing pains, but Tennessee needs a spark offensively. More important is they get to expedite the development of a quarterback who could lead the Vols back to prominence.