It took the Tennessee Volunteers offense about a month before they really started clicking this season.
It’s understandable why it took so long. A new offensive scheme, combined with very little experience among the skill position players, made for a tricky challenge for Butch Jones and offensive coordinator Mike Bajakian.
The Vols struggled offensively this season (outside of the opener against Austin Peay) until October 5 against Georgia, when it all seemed to come together.
Even though the Vols lost that game, you could see the chemistry that was developing between Justin Worley and his wide receivers. It took Worley and his receivers months to get their timing down, to learn each other’s movements and quirks.
Unfortunately for the Vols that chemistry was short lived, as Justin Worley suffered torn ligaments in his thumb against Alabama, forcing the Vols to turn to true freshman Josh Dobbs.
When you consider how long it took the offense to take shape with Worley under center, it makes Dobbs’ performance against Missouri and Alabama even more impressive.
Dobbs had essentially no time with the starters prior to Justin Worley’s injury. He didn’t have the luxury of spring and summer practices to get timing down with the first team offense. The true freshman quarterback is really playing catch-up right now.
That makes the possibilities of what this offense could be under Dobbs very exciting.
According to sophomore wide receiver Pig Howard, the chemistry is coming along nicely.
Howard: Every day is room for improvement, but we’ve come a long way with Josh throughout the course of the season and camp. We didn’t get too many reps with him because of Worley and Nate, but the last few practices we’ve been getting our timing and spacing down on our routes.
Dobbs and some of his receivers had some issues connecting in the Missouri game, but Dobbs acknowledged they’re working hard to improve.
Dobbs: I felt like we had a groove Saturday, we just didn’t finish. Every time we get on the field and after the practice, we’re able to put in extra hours throwing routes and getting our timing down, because if we get our time down in practice, we’ll be that much better on Saturday.
Vol fans should expect to see a vast improvement in Dobbs’ game this week. Every game rep against Missouri, every practice rep as the starter, it all just makes Dobbs that much more prepared.
Saturday will undoubtedly be a special day for Dobbs. It will be his first time taking a snap during a game at Neyland Stadium. Dobbs is admittedly excited about his first start at home.
Dobbs: I’m really looking forward to getting in front of our great fans of Vol Nation and looking forward to leading the team out in front of 102,455
There’s not a better way to endear yourself to Tennessee fans than by leading the Vols to a victory over a top ten team.
If Dobbs has any doubt, he can just ask Justin Worley what it did for his popularity after beating South Carolina.
Then again, he might just want to find out for himself.