Vol promises win over Mizzou after thrashing

Stay glued to InsideTennessee.com for all the latest and best Vols news coverage. Scroll down to read all the big stories after the Vols' loss to No. 1 Alabama.

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – There were no hung heads or red eyes post game.

Only confidence.

Some of which could be confused with cockiness.

"We'll beat Missouri, I'll promise you that," said left tackle Antonio Richardson, head high, chest puffed.

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Sure, Tennessee limped through a 45-10 beat down at the hands of top-ranked Alabama as cigar smoke clouded the stands of Bryant-Denny Stadium, but there was no dwelling on the thrashing.

Once the final second slipped off the scoreboard, the Vols were all eyes on No. 5 Missouri.

It's the "snap and clear" mentality Butch Jones preaches endlessly.

Confidence may not seem warranted following a loss that saw Alabama score on its first four offensive possessions and produce 14 points in its first 10 plays, but Ja'Wuan James said it's a testament to this team's mental makeup.

"We'll bounce back. All those guys in that room are battlers," James told IT. "We're a completely different team than we were last year. Nobody is going to break our spirit. No one is going to break our will."

In a word, James believes his squad is resilient.

They're challenged to be day after day, game after game.

Saturday afternoon turned evening was just another example.

Jones burst into the away locker room tucked in a back corner of Bryant-Denny Stadium with one question: "Seniors, how do you want to be remembered? What do you want your legacy to be?"

The familiar tune of yet another brutal loss to the Crimson Tide could be this senior class' legacy. Or it could be four wins in November, starting with a victory over the nation's No. 5 team.

"It helps when you have guys to your left and right who are confident. It's all positivity," defensive end Corey Miller said. "We kept it positive the entire time."

Instead of cringing at a road matchup against another top 5 foe, players embrace the challenge.

"I'm confident in my teammates," Richardson explained. "That's the type of confidence that you have to have in your teammates week by week because at the end of the day all we have is each other."

Added James: "If we have a great week of practice like we did last week and this week, I feel like we can compete with anyone in the country."

Dobbs debuts

<A HREF=//tennessee.scout.com/a.z?s=7&p=8&c=1&nid=6935941><A HREF=//tennessee.scout.com/a.z?s=7&p=8&c=1&nid=6834501>Antonio Richardson</A></A>
On the road against archrival and top-ranked Alabama isn't exactly the best environment to make a college football debut, but by all accounts freshman quarterback Joshua Dobbs handled the heat well.

Enough so that Jones said Dobbs will be competing for the starting quarterback spot this week regardless of Worley's health, although the head coach said he expects Worley to practice this week after re-injuring his thumb.

"Absolutely," Jones said when asked if Dobbs could start against Missouri. "I thought he did some good things. He adds another element in terms of making plays with his legs. I look forward to going back and really watching it."

Dobbs did enough to not only open up a quarterback competition, but he also earned the respect of his teammates.

"If Josh has to start this week, we're comfortable with him back there," James said. "…Dobbs did a great job. He did a great job coming in and leading. I was proud of him, I was surprised he came in with that much poise."

James' take on the rookie gunslinger was parroted in one way or another by the rest of his teammates.

"We all came to him at halftime and said, man, we all believe in you, just go in there and be posed," Richardson said. "The thing about him is he's not an arrogant or pompous kind of person, he's very humble. He went in there and he executed."

Dobbs finished the day going 5-of-12 passing for 75 yards, highlighted by a 29-yard completion to Marquez North on a play action roll out. He also rushed for 19 yards on three attempts.

"I didn't see anything nervous about him," James said.

Road rage

Tennessee leaves Alabama still searching for an illusive road victory.

Finding one won't come easy.

"The next step in the evolution of our football program and football team is to learn how to win on the road," Jones said.

Tennessee boasts one of the more impressive road resumes, tripping to unbeaten Oregon, facing a then one-loss Florida team and battling No. 1 Alabama.

The experienced hasn't seemed to help with No. 5 Missouri lurking.

"When you play on the road, you are responsible for creating your own momentum and opportunities," Jones said. "Obviously, we did not do that in any way, shape or form in the first half. That is very disappointing."

Tennessee's wins and an oh-so-close loss to Georgia have come with a roaring crowd on the Vols side.

Things weren't so welcoming in Tuscaloosa.

Miller downplayed the effect the hostile environment had on the game's unsightly outcome.

"It shouldn't have been anything that effected us," Miller said. "We practiced all week long with two speakers and with noise and things of that nature."

Obviously, you have to take the opponents into account when analyzing the Vols' road blues. There aren't many teams who can stand toe for toe with Oregon and Alabama at home let alone at their place.

<A HREF=//tennessee.scout.com/a.z?s=7&p=8&c=1&nid=6935941><A HREF=//tennessee.scout.com/a.z?s=7&p=8&c=1&nid=6834501>Antonio Richardson</A></A>
But pointing fingers at the top 25 poll doesn't tell the whole story.

"Some of it was due to the quality of our opponent," Jones said. "Some of it was self-inflicted wounds."

Tennessee has sputtered out of the gates when away from Neyland Stadium.

Alabama is the latest example.

The Vols didn't reach the score column until a Michael Palardy kick split the uprights at the 12:53 mark in the third quarter.

Tennessee tallied just 30 rushing yards in the first half. Alabama diced the Vols' defense for 112 and added to the hurt with gains of 69 and 67 yards through the air in the half.

"We talked about having to start fast. We gave up a long kickoff return, then they scored," Jones said. "Third down we fell over and gave up a big play. Everything had a snowball effect."

Players are confident the road struggles won't continue.

"We need to get our first SEC signature win on the road, you know, we have one at home," James said. "… We're looking forward to going up to Missouri."

Richardson, James, Johnson, per university

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