It seems Dobbs is serious about winning the job, too.
“I was surprised,” Worley said during a Thursday meeting with the media to kick off preseason camp. “But we’re both trying to get better. That was an opportunity for us, and we took it.”
Neither Vol knew the other was planning to attend, so their meeting on Day One of the Whitfield camp in San Diego surprised them both.
“I got there first,” Dobbs recalled. “I was sitting down talking with Coach Whitfield when I saw Justin come up. When he walked up it was obviously a pleasant surprise to see a familiar face there.”
Worley said “15 or 16” college quarterbacks attended the Whitfield camp, so the fact two of them represent the same university was a real oddity. Still, the situation proved beneficial. Worley and Dobbs competed as if they were going head-to-head throughout the camp.
“We were,” Dobbs said. “Coach Whitfield divided us up in groups and we weren’t in the same group a lot. When we were, though, we were definitely pushing each other to continue to get better.”
Although Whitfield has some strong ideas about quarterback play, his teaching is quite compatible with that of Tennessee offensive coordinator/QB coach Mike Bajakian.
“It’s along the same lines,” Dobbs said. “Coach Bajakian and Coach Whitfield have a really good relationship; they kind of echo each other. Coach Whitfield focuses a lot on mechanics, starting from the ground up, working on your footwork, moving in the pocket. From there he works on different types of throws – touch balls, on the run. He works your overall game as a quarterback.”
In addition to the Whitfield camp, Worley competed this summer in the prestigious Manning Passing Academy, run by Peyton, Eli and Archie.
“It was a great opportunity to get around other quarterbacks. There were around 40 of us from all over the country – some big-name guys,” Worley said. “You also had an opportunity to interact with Peyton, Archie and Eli.”
One of the camp activities was called the Air-It-Out competition. Asked how he did, Worley replied: “I did all right. I didn’t win it but I made the semifinals, I think.”
Worley must have done better than “all right,” based on the response he got from the Mannings.
“Both Archie and Peyton texted me and said, ‘Great job at the camp. Really appreciate you coming out and helping, as well. Good luck this season.’ Hearing that from a couple of Hall of Fame guys is incredible,” Worley said. “I was just trying to make some sort of impact.”
Both Dobbs and Worley are determined to win the favor of Vol offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach Mike Bajakian, yet their competition is friendly.
“Of course, we’re friends off the field,” Dobbs said. “We help each other out in the film room with Coach Jake. We’re pushing each other but we’re also helping each other out, seeing things, pointing out different things within the plays. When you’re on the field, your goal is to do the best you can to improve every day. As a quarterback group we try to focus on the process, take it day by day and see what happens.”
Being a senior with 10 starts to his credit, Worley has an advantage in experience over Dobbs, a sophomore who has just four starts. Dobbs is a better runner, averaging a hefty 5.0 yards per carry as a freshman last fall. Still, he says the offense is no more run-oriented when he’s in the lineup.
“I wouldn’t say that,” he said. “Coach Jake keeps his play calls consistent whoever’s in the game, so our goal is to put our offense in the best position we can and execute.”
Joshua Dobbs video interview
Justin Worley video interview