KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Tennessee’s game at Texas A&M features several matchups, but the game within the game many will be following with involves Volunteer quarterback Josh Dobbs and Aggies defensive coordinator John Chavis.
Dobbs has made one play after another— from his tackle-breaking scrambles, to last Saturday’s last-second, 43-yard Hail Mary spiral to lift his team to a 34-31 win at Georgia — to keep the team’s season perfect.
“When I take the field, I take the field to win. That’s my mentality, so I’ll do whatever it takes,” Dobbs explained earlier this week. “Whether it’s doing different things myself or pushing my teammates, I’ll push the team to win … Whatever it takes, I’m willing to do.”
Dobbs and the No. 9 Vols (5-0, 2-0 SEC) face a tall task against No. 8 Texas A&M (5-0, 3-0) and Chavis’ attacking defense.
The Aggies lead the nation with 50 tackles for loss, and they average 3.2 sacks per game.
“(Dobbs) does a lot of things really well, he’s a very intelligent young man,” Chavis said. “I know he’s in aerospace engineering, and he’s talented in terms of running the football and he throws it extremely well, too.”
Chavis, a former Tennessee player who also served as an assistant coach and defensive coordinator with the Vols (1989-2008), has a reputation for getting after and punishing quarterbacks.
Dobbs won’t be treated any differently than any other quarterback, or player running the ball, for that matter.
“We take pride in being a pressure defense, and we just don’t pressure the pass game, we pressure the run game, too,” Chavis said. “A little bit is scheme, and a lot has to do with players”
As for what the games means to Chavis, his public stance is that it’s the next game on the schedule.
“It’s business. It’s been along time, (and) I don’t even think about it,” Chavis said. “It’s the next game on our schedule. We have to prepare for an outstanding football team. From an offensive standpoint, the most athletes we’ve see thus far.”
Dobbs, meanwhile, just wants the Vols to get off to a fast start and stretch their winning streak from 11 to 12 games.
“We don’t need much motivation to stay up for the games,” Dobbs said. “Our dreams, goals and aspirations are right at our finger tips, and we’re right where we want to be. We’re undefeated at 5-0 and playing another great opponent on the road.”
Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin made it clear he respects what Dobbs and Tennessee have accomplished.
“They haven’t gotten lucky. They’ve got a veteran quarterback that is number one in this league for points responsible for. Whether he’s throwing it or running it, whatever he’s doing, he’s the number one guy that’s creating points in this league,” Sumlin said. “So that gives you a chance to have those types of games and win every game.
“He’s been through it before. He’s been in a bunch of different stadiums. He’s been on the road. He’s be in front of 150,000 at Bristol, so he’s gonna come in here. He’s seen all this. We’ve got a huge challenge this weekend.”