Tennessee football: Vols 10 greatest seasons with junior starting quarterback

Photo by Andy Lyons /Allsport
Photo by Andy Lyons /Allsport /
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Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images
Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images /

8. 2015: 9-4 (5-3)

Starting quarterback: Joshua Dobbs

W Outback Bowl; No. 22 AP; No. 23 Coaches

We’re still on those seasons in which Tennessee football finished near the bottom of the top 25 with a junior quarterback. But none of them established higher morale for the Vols than this season, which is one reason we have it at No. 8. Joshua Dobbs was the junior quarterback, and the previous year, he had established himself.

Despite looking awful in five starts as a freshman, going 1-4, he was inserted into the lineup with the Vols losing 27-0 to the Alabama Crimson Tide. Dobbs made it a respectable 34-20, then led a 14-point comeback with three minutes left against the South Carolina Gamecocks to win on the road the next week. Behind him, UT went from 3-5 to 7-6 and a bowl win to finish the year.

With almost everybody back, they entered 2015 as a top 25 program. At this point, they hadn’t won more than seven games or finished in the top 25 in eight years. So expectations were high Butch Jones’s third season.

However, a blown 17-0 lead, the worst loss ever to the Florida Gators after blowing a 27-14 fourth quarter lead and allowing five fourth downs, and a 24-20 loss to the Arkansas Razorbacks had this team left for dead at 2-3. That’s when they turned things around with a 21-point comeback to beat the Georgia Bulldogs and a very close loss to the Alabama Crimson Tide.

After that, the Vols had newfound confidence, and they ran the table on the back end of the schedule to finish 8-4. An Outback Bowl blowout win over the Northwestern Wildcats resulted in a 9-4 finish and top 25 season. It set the stage for a ton of hype in 2016, which of course never came to fruition. But at this point, when the season ended, things looked great.