Josh Dobbs is now entering his third week as Tennessee's starting quarterback, and the true freshman continues to impress his coaches and teammates with his improvements both on and off the field.
The highly-touted Dobbs played for the first time when starter Justin Worley suffered a thumb injury during a 45-10 loss at Alabama on Oct. 26 and has started the last two games under center for the Vols.
"It just goes back to playing the amount of freshmen that we have," head coach Butch Jones said. "He's had to grow up in a hurry."
Dobbs is 47-of-79 passing for 443 yards through his three appearances, and Jones likes what he has seen from the young quarterback.
"Just the overall management (has improved)," Jones said "Also the pulls on the zone read (improved), he still missed a couple, but we will continue to evolve in that."
The Alpharetta, Ga., native is focusing on trying to improve each week and treating each game as a learning experience.
"I learn a lot every time I step on the field," Dobbs said. "There is a lot to take away from each game, and we just continue to grow and improve as a team. It was just another great experience against another great team."
A crucial component of any passing game is the relationship between quarterback and receiver, something the offense has been working hard on with the new signal caller.
"We just go out here at practice and improve our connection," sophomore receiver Johnathon Johnson said. "It's going to take time but I see progress. I definitely think we have had a lot of progress since Missouri."
In his starts against Missouri and Auburn, Dobbs found either Marquez North or Alton "Pig" Howard on 27 of his 42 completions.
"I'm just constantly making sure I'm going through my progressions, and protecting the football," Dobbs said. "Just being smart, managing the game and getting the ball into my playmakers hands."
One thing Dobbs has brought to the team is his ability to make plays with his legs, running for 147 yards in his three appearances this season, with 68 of those coming in last week's loss to seventh-ranked Auburn.
"We called a few more designed runs," Dobbs said. "I just felt like that is how the flow of the game was going, and we were just able to execute them. (The coaches) just want me to be smart, and if I have to tuck it and run, then just protect the ball."
Not only has Dobbs improved on the field, but his off the field management has grown as well, and it is something his coach has taken note of.
"We want our quarterbacks to be football junkies, we want them to be gym rats," Jones said. "We want them coming around and really studying the game, and he has done a great job of that."
Tennessee must win its next two games to qualify for a bowl game, but to Dobbs these aren't any different than any other game this season.
"I wouldn't say there is any added pressure, every game is a must win," Dobbs said. "That's our goal, we go out and every time we step on the field we're trying to win.
"We're just going to use this bye week to get better, and get ready for our next two opponents."