After beating the then-No. 11 South Carolina two weeks ago, the Vols fell to No.1 Alabama and lost starting quarterback Justin Worley in the process. With Worley out and backup Nathan Peterman out for the year due to injury, head coach Butch Jones made the decision to burn Dobbs’ redshirt. In doing so, the Volunteers opened up the offense to a whole new slew of plays, as Dobbs is a much more mobile quarterback than Worley.
Dobbs’ showed some of that mobility against Missouri, but the Tigers’ defense was on another level. Dobbs was 26-of-42 for 240 yards, no touchdowns and two interceptions. He also rushed for 45 yards on seven carries. With any freshman quarterback, there will always be growing pains. His nerves were apparent with several high passes and shows of frustration.
However, Dobbs didn’t get enough help on offense. He ended up being the leading rusher with Marlin Lane and Rajion Neal accounting for a combined 45 yards on 14 carries.
Dobbs’ debut was overshadowed by the lack of discipline on defense. The Vols gave up a combined 502 yards, including 339 rushing yards. There were numerous times when the defense gave up big plays due to broken coverage, leading to several open receivers as well as scores. Either the defense wasn’t in it or were distracted, but they definitely didn’t look like a cohesive unit. They failed to force any turnovers and allowed 24 first downs.
The one bright spot on the team was kicker Michael Palardy, who booted in a 51-yard field goal and accounted for the Vols’ only points. He also averaged 42.7 yards per punt, landing 4-of-7 inside the 20-yard line.
The Vols sit at 4-5 on the season and need at least two more wins in their last three games to be bowl-eligible. If the Vols continue this lackluster performance especially on defense, they will struggle against No.11 Auburn next week at home. They will also have to face a strong Vanderbilt team at home, followed by a game at Kentucky.