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March 8, 2014

Dobbs growing from competition, experience



Joshua Dobbs has something Riley Ferguson doesn't have: four starts' worth of experience and an invaluable amount of time thrown into the spotlight as a true freshman in 2013.

"It's helped a lot in just seeing things and knowing what's going to happen," Dobbs said Friday night, after Tennessee opened spring practice on Haslam Field. "Game experience is extremely valuable and practice experience is the same thing. It's great to have film to see and watch what I need to go back to and improve on that throughout the spring and into the summer."

Through the spring and the summer - all the way back to November, really - the quarterback competition will be and has been wide open between Dobbs, Ferguson (who spent last season as a redshirt), senior Justin Worley and redshirt sophomore Nathan Peterman.

"Our goal as a position group and as a team is to come out every day and compete and make sure we're consistent with our performance," Dobbs said. "We're just working hard to continue to grow as a team. It's a second year in the offense so it's a great chance to continue to build on where we left off last year."

Where Dobbs left off last year was 695 yards passing, a 103.29 passer efficiency, two touchdown passes to six interceptions and 189 net rush yards. He made his Tennessee debut in the second half at No. 1 Alabama in October, after Worley's broken thumb was too much to play with.

Now almost five months later, Dobbs is up "10 to 15 pounds" to a thicker, more game-changing weight of 213.

"I think that changes my game a lot," Dobbs said. "Just being bigger and being a bigger presence, especially playing in the SEC, especially with how physical it is."

"That's something we challenged him," Butch Jones said Friday, "and he responded. He needed to add the extra weight."

Nearly a year in the system has made just as much of a difference.

"It makes you grow up fast," Dobbs said. "Especially playing last year, it makes you grow up fast.
"I know it's my first spring, but now knowing what coaches are looking for and how practices are going to go, I think that's great."

Dobbs worked in with the second-team offense during the open portions of practice Friday, but where a quarterback gets reps on Day 1 of spring practice in early March has little to do with how the depth chart will look come August.

"Your goal is to go out when you get your reps and you want to just do the best you can and just stay consistent," Dobbs said. "That's the goal and that's what I do every time when I step in for my reps."

In the end, that consistency will decide who wins the four-way, 'healthy' quarterback competition.

"It helps us push each other a lot because we're all out there competing against each other," Dobbs said. "And when one person is competing against another, it's just going to make the next person better.

"It will be great for the quarterbacks, all of us, just to grow as players."



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