Quinten Dormady had the best debut for a Tennessee football quarterback in history

ATLANTA, GA - SEPTEMBER 04: Quinten Dormady
ATLANTA, GA - SEPTEMBER 04: Quinten Dormady /

Tennessee football quarterback Quinten Dormady’s starting debut was the best in school history as the Volunteers beat the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets.

Related Story: Top 5 Vols performers vs. Georgia Tech

This is not an exaggeration. Ever since the passing game became an integral part of the offense, try as hard as you can to find a better debut for a starting quarterback in Tennessee football history than what Quinten Dormady had Monday night.

After starting the game 8-for-20, the chips were against Dormady. He was not the mobile quarterback Joshua Dobbs was, and another mobile quarterback, Jarrett Guarantano, was breathing down his neck as a back-up. Fans had already benched him.

How did he respond? By going 12-for-17 the rest of the way to finish 20-of-37 for 221 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions against a good team and one of the most elite and experienced secondaries in the country. Oh, he also led a game-tying 95-yard drive in regulation with the clock winding down en route to that win.

Sure, he had a ton of help from Marquez Callaway and John Kelly, but so what? Dormady actually had to get Callaway the ball. And his passing also allowed Kelly to be more effective.

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Dormady was clutch the entire second half and overtime, never flinching. Sure, he needed some luck to get the chance to lead the two-touchdown comeback. But he still did his part. Butch Jones and Larry Scott deserve tons of credit for sticking with him.

And in the history of Tennessee football quarterbacks, you can’t find one who had a more impressive debut as a starter.

Joshua Dobbs was awful in his first three starts. Peyton Manning only put up 10 points in his start in a horrendous offensive performance but saw his defense carry him to victory. Heath Shuler, while solid, made his debut against Southwester Louisiana. Condredge Holloway got a win against the same Yellow Jackets, but he scored no touchdowns and had two interceptions.

Only one quarterback could be in the conversation when you factor in what he did and the competition he faced. That quarterback was Tee Martin.

He led the Vols to a more impressive victory, beating Syracuse and Donovan McNabb on the road while leading a game-winning drive. Like Dormady, he threw two touchdown passes. And he also ran for 80 yards.

Altogether, that would seem to make for an even more impressive starting debut. However, we give the edge to Dormady because Martin’s stat line was 9-of-26 for 143 yards throwing the ball. The 80 yards rushing only put his totals on par with Dormady but not his efficiency.

Oh, and while Dormady had Callaway, Martin had Peerless Price, the greatest playmaker in Tennessee football history.

Also Georgia Tech this year could be close to Syracuse in 1998 in terms of talent. And Dormady was actually facing a better secondary.

So he gets the edge.

What about other Tennessee quarterbacks?

Before Dobbs, Nathan Peterman had a start. It was the worst half in the history of Tennessee football quarterbacks, against the Florida Gators in 2013.

And before Butch Jones, Justin Worley started for Derek Dooley and only put up three points in his debut against the South Carolina Gamecocks.

Matt Simms helped his team to 50 points and Tyler Bray had five touchdowns in their starting debuts. But they came against UT Martin and the Memphis Tigers when they were led by Larry Porter. So there was no competition.

What about the Phillip Fulmer years?

Jonathan Crompton was awful in a loss to the Arkansas Razorbacks in 2006. Rick Clausen had to hold on to beat the Vanderbilt Commodores. Brent Schaeffer had good numbers, but they came against UNLV.

Erik Ainge? Check what happened when he faced Auburn in the 2004 regular season. It was utter embarrassment.

Casey Clausen scored a 20-10 win over Alabama, which was impressive, but he didn’t do much. Joey Mathews was pulled in his first start, and A.J. Suggs lost his.

Jerry Colquitt got hurt, and Todd Helton relied on James Stewart to beat Georgia in 1994.

And with those guys, we’ve now gone through every quarterback who started a game since Fulmer. Even in the Majors years, though, nobody came close to Dormady.

Andy Kelly did put up 45 points in his first start, but it was against a bad LSU Tigers team, and most of it came from defense, special teams and Chuck Webb.

Next: Grading the Vols in their win vs. Georgia Tech

Simply put, if you go back through the history of Tennessee football starting quarterbacks, there’s nobody who had a better debut than Dormady. And after a 42-41 double-overtime comeback victory, he deserves some major recognition.