Dobbs eager to improve

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Joshua Dobbs' voice was splashed with the slightest hint of nerves as he shifted his weight from foot to foot before a crowd of reporters, but the youngster says there were no jitters last Saturday.

"No. I was just anxious to get on the field and play," Dobbs said. "I've been waiting all year to play so it was a great opportunity to get on the field and show what I have."

The freshman quarterback spoke to the media for the first time three days removed from his first start against then-No. 10 Missouri.

Once you weeded past the slight anxiety, the determination was easy to discern in Dobbs' voice.

He's far from complacent.

"There are a lot of improvements I need to make," he said.

Dobbs said his focus this week is fine-tuning his decision-making skills and continuing to be a vocal leader as the Vols continue preparation for No. 7 Auburn.

"It's just a new week and another opportunity to go out and compete," Dobbs said. "We're taking each day to grow and learn as a team."

Dobbs has always been ultra-critical of his performances. He admitted his debut was a mixed bag.

Dobbs paired 240 passing yards with three turnovers against Missouri.

"We all have our things to work on after the Missouri game," Dobbs said. "We're just taking each day to learn and grow as a team."

Dobbs said he looks at every chance he has to take the field as a learning opportunity.

His next learning experience will come at Neyland Stadium. It's a welcome change for the freshman who has only seen the field on the road.

"It's going to be an awesome experience," Dobbs said. "I'm really looking forward to getting in front of our great fans, Vol Nation and looking forward to leading the team in front of 102,455."

In order for Dobbs to lead the Vols to victory, he'll need to march the offense into the end zone – a feat he failed to accomplish against the Tigers.

Dobbs feels the struggle to score against Missouri wasn't a result of miscommunication with wideouts, rather simply not finishing drives.

"We are," Dobbs said when asked if he felt in sync with his receivers. "I feel like we had a groove Saturday. We just didn't finish."

Freshman are usually banned from speaking to media in fear of slip ups.

Jones said allowing Dobbs to speak was a testament to the freshman's maturity level, something his teammates have raved about in recent weeks – especially when it comes to Dobbs' leadership abilities.

"He's more mature than a lot of seniors on this team," Zach Fulton said last Tuesday.

When Dobbs was named starter last week, he burst into the offensive line meeting room to tell the group of veterans he believed in them.

Dobbs has no problems leading or commanding on the field, saying it's just apart of playing quarterback – the position Butch Jones refers to as the toughest in all of sports.

"It comes natural," Dobbs said of his leadership abilities. "It's apart of the quarterback position. I've always done it. It's just a habit I have."

Smart guy

Once Dobbs was finished fielding question after question regarding his thoughts on his debut performance and Auburn week preparation, it was time for some more lighthearted inquiries.

Dobbs has been praised for his smarts. After all, he's a 4.0 student and aerospace engineering major.

Dobbs revealed Tuesday that his goal is to build and design airplanes, adding he'd also like to fly them "in his free time."

Let's get tough

<A HREF=//><A HREF=//><A HREF=//>Daniel Hood</A></A></A>
Butch Jones took Haslam Field with his trademarked smirk Tuesday.

"Club 90," he barked into his microphone. "That's the new name for the offensive line – club 90."

The new nickname was a jab at Tennessee's poor offensive output against Missouri, which saw the Vols pick up just 90 yards rushing.

Right tackle Ja'Wuan James embraces the loud-speaker heckling and feels his group responded well Tuesday.

"Practice was fun today. It was intense," James said.

Jones agrees.

A day after challenging his team to be more physical by reintroducing full-padded practice, the first-year head coach was pleased with his squad's performance.

"I thought it was a very, very good and very productive start to the week," Jones said.

Tuesday's practice consisted of several first-team defense versus first-team offense drills.

With players nursing mid-season bumps and bruises, the practice energy revamp may seem unwelcomed. It's quiet the opposite.

"Intensity. We're getting after it and having fun," Alton Howard said. "Everyone is coming out with an edge."

Jones spent much of practice challenging the offensive line over the loud speakers, calling Zach Fulton "the softest big guy" he's ever seen and taking jabs at several other buffet-bashers.

The heckling could seem harsh. Not to players.

"I love it," James said of Jones' microphone motivation. "You know, he brings energy to practice. It makes practice a lot better and brings energy to practice."

A welcome homecoming

Tennessee players aren't about to use its daunting road schedule as an excuse for coming out flat away from Neyland Stadium, but the return home is certainly welcome.

"The energy of the crowd it really brings us together," wideout Johnathon Johnson said. "It was a tough loss last week, but we're just focused on Auburn."

Butch Jones, per university

Josh Dobbs, per university

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