HOOVER, Ala. — There’s a lot Josh Dobbs hopes Tennessee accomplishes this year, and there’s just as much riding on his shoulders.
The senior recognizes that, whether or not he actually lets it affect him. But does Tennessee’s veteran signal caller need improvement as a passer to realize his own goals?
Former Alabama quarterback Greg McElroy thinks so. Speaking with SEC Country after Monday’s SEC Media Days session, he named Dobbs as the conference quarterback with the most to prove in 2016.
“Being a championship quarterback is tough,” McElroy said. “It’s not easy to win a championship, and I think in order for them to win a championship, whether it be the (SEC) East, whether it be the SEC or the national (title), it’s going to be very important for him to take the next step as a player.
“Certainly athletically he’s very gifted. Everyone recognizes that. But can he recognize the flaws that are actually within his game? Some of the downfield throwing, the impatience he has when allowing things downfield to develop. Certainly he has the capability (to be great). It hasn’t been as consistent as it needs to be if they are in fact going to take the next step.”
In three seasons on Rocky Top, Dobbs has passed for 4,192 yards at a 60.6 percent clip, rushed for 1,329 and scored 47 total touchdowns. His skill set as a dual-threat quarterback makes him one of the SEC’s toughest players to contain. But there are common criticisms of Dobbs’ game that center around inconsistency, pocket presence and accuracy on intermediate and deep routes.
According to Pro Football Focus, Dobbs went 16-for-46 on passing attempts of 20 yards or more last season. He also completed just 10 of 32 intermediate throws (10-19 yards) to receivers outside the hash marks.
If Dobbs can show progress in those problem areas, however, McElroy thinks Tennessee could potentially have one of the country’s elite play-makers under center.
“He’s a top 15 player in the country at his position. But I think he has the skill set and physical capabilities of being a top five player if he makes some of the changes in his game that need to be made,” McElroy said. “Even though he’s already proven an awful lot, the ceiling’s extremely high.”