Josh Dobbs

Vols score 17 straight points for halftime lead in The Swamp

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Florida drew first blood, but the Vols are on the attack down in Gainesville. It has been a while since Tennessee defeated the rival Gators, but they look to be on their way to snapping the losing streak if they can keep it going. Tennessee leads Florida 17-7 at the half after scoring 17 straight points.

Florida opened the scoring with a Kelvin Taylor touchdown run to cap a drive that was highlighted by a 47-yard run by Taylor just two plays earlier. Butch Jones, as he has been known to do from time to time, went into the bag of tricks to help get the Vols on the scoreboard. The call was for a double pass from wide receiver Jauan Jennings to quarterback Josh Dobbs. Once he got his hands back on the football, Dobbs raced up the field for a 58-yard touchdown to even the score at 7-7.

Later in the second quarter Tennessee may have been given a gift by the lack of an instant replay review. Alex Ellis lost control of the football on a short pass down the right sideline. He lost control of the ball before stepping out of bounds, and the ball was spotted at the one-yard line by the officials after rolling out of play. The ball actually hit a Tennessee body before hitting a pyline, so Tennessee would have kept control of the football, but the spot would have been pushed back a few yards. Jalen Hurd picked up the short touchdown run on the next play to give the Vols a 14-7 lead. A 34-yard field goal from Aaron Medley later in the half gave Tennessee the 17-7 lead.

CFT 2015 Preseason Preview: SEC Predictions

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As the 2015 season draws near, we peek into our crystal ball and guess project how each of the five major conferences will play out. Today, we will be examining the home of the defending national champion, the Big Ten. 

And while we’re at it, check out some of our other Power Five conference predictions HERE (ACC), HERE (Big 12) and HERE (Big Ten) as the CFT team continues to take its month-long glimpse of the upcoming season.

SEC EAST

1. Georgia (10-3; beat Louisville in Belk Bowl)
There is one certainty when it comes to the East: UGA will not finish lower than third, a low-water benchmark for each of Mark Richt‘s 14 seasons in Athens that has included five division titles — none since 2012, though.  They return the most talent of any team in the division, although the fact that they opted for Grayson Lambert as the starting quarterback has me second-guessing my prediction.  It’s been a decade since UGA’s last SEC championship, and if they’re going to get back to that level they’ll have to do so with a schedule that includes both Alabama and Auburn as well as a road trip to Tennessee.  Still, anything less than an East title and a spot in the SEC championship game would be decidedly disappointing — and would lead to yet another offseason of “is it time to go in another direction?” speculation.

2. Tennessee (7-6; beat Iowa in Taxslayer Bowl)
Am I a year early with this lofty projection?  Possibly, especially given the team right below them.  Still, there’s no denying that Butch Jones has stuffed his talent cupboard after the barren years under his predecessor, Derek Dooley.  The Vols closed out last year on a positive note, going 4-1 down the stretch — the lone loss coming by eight to Mizzou — capping it off with an impressive 45-28 win over the Hawkeyes in the bowl game.  That final flourish coincided with Josh Dobbs‘ ascension as the starting quarterback.  With the scintillating playmaker poised to build off his first season at this level, the Vols could very well challenge both UGA and Mizzou for East supremacy.

3. Missouri (11-3; beat Minnesota in Citrus Bowl)
“Here we go again, denigrating the two-time defending East champion Tigers.” — the two Mizzou fans who frequent this site, probably.  And, actually, that’s an understandable reaction, given how the Tigers have been the class of the division the past two seasons.  They’re also one of the few teams in the conference that returns its starting quarterback.  Still, there are concerns along the defensive line — they return just five starters on that side of the ball, period — and their schedule doesn’t do them very many favors as they play at Georgia and Arkansas as well as play host to Mississippi State.  It wouldn’t shock me, though, if Mizzou made it three straight titles.  In fact, the only thing that would shock the system is if they finish outside the top three in the division.

(more…)

Vols mum as Marquez North injury rumors swirl

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Tennessee’s offense may have lost one of its more significant and talented pieces to a serious injury.  Or said playmaker may have just been dinged.  Or nobody knows.  One of the three.

Warning flares went up all around Rocky Top overnight when the Knoxville FOXSports radio affiliate reported on its website that Marquez North “has suffered a serious leg injury and it is feared to be season ending.” In an update, the station added that “North went down with a serious, non-contact injury to his leg [during practice] and could not put any weight on it” and an “MRI is scheduled for Thursday” to determine the extent of the injury.

The Vols have yet to address what if any injury issue North is facing, adding to the speculation. Further adding to that speculation? Practice has reportedly been cancelled for this morning, meaning media members won’t be able to ask head coach Butch Jones about North’s status until later on tonight.

Some members of the media, though, are attempting to tap the brakes on the seriousness of whatever injury North sustained.

And then there’s this, from RockyTopInsider.com:

Here’s what we’ve been told via a source: North did, indeed, sustain an injury early during practice on Wednesday. After the injury, North spent the rest of Wednesday’s session on the training table observing practice, but was not in any noticeable pain. The injury continues to be evaluated and the severity of the injury is unknown at this time. We can confirm that much, but anything else at this point is speculation.

One of the most physically-gifted receivers in the SEC, the 6-3, 229-pound North has failed in the eyes of some to live up to the billing his four-star pedigree portended, though health issues have certainly played a role in that perception  Last season, a shoulder injury knocked him out of the final three games of the season and limited him for the two prior to that.  Coincidentally or not, the Vols went 4-1 in those five games, although the emergence of Josh Dobbs as the starting quarterback likely had as much to do with that run than anything.

Despite that missed playing time, North was still third on the team with 30 receptions and 320 receiving yards, and tied for second with four receiving touchdowns, one year after leading the team in receiving as a true freshman.  He was one of several players limited during spring practice earlier this year.

SEC release list of player attendees for Media Days

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Back in June, the SEC released the dates and times the 14 coaches will appear for the conference’s Media Days this month.  Five days ahead of the start of the SEC Media Days July 13, the league has released the list of players who will travel to Alabama with their respective head coaches.

As has been the standard for years, each of the 14 teams will send three players to represent the schools, for a total of 42.  Not surprisingly, given the lack of returning talent at the position, there will be just five quarterbacks in attendance: Arkansas’ Brandon Allen, Auburn’s Jeremy Johnson, Mississippi State’s Dak Prescott, Missouri’s Maty Mauk and Tennessee’s Josh Dobbs.

Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia , Kentucky and Mississippi State are sending all-senior contingents, while South Carolina will be represented by nothing but juniors.  38 of the 42 players are either juniors or seniors, the lone exceptions being sophomores Brandon Powell (Florida, wide receiver), Leonard Fournette (LSU, running back), Nigel Bowden (Vanderbilt, linebacker) and Ralph Webb (Vanderbilt, running back).

The Gamecocks are the only team to bring one of their kickers (placekicker Elliott Fry), while Texas A&M is bringing three linemen (two offensive, one defensive).  All three Razorback players come from the offensive side of the ball.

Below is the complete list of SEC player attendees:

Alabama
*Reggie Ragland, Sr., LB
Kenyan Drake, Sr., RB
Ryan Kelly, Sr., OL

Arkansas
*Jonathan Williams, Sr., RB
Brandon Allen, Sr., QB
Keon Hatcher, Sr., WR

Auburn
*Jeremy Johnson, Jr., QB
Jonathan Jones, Sr., DB
Kris Frost, Sr., LB

Florida
*Jonathan Bullard, Sr., DE
Brandon Powell, So., WR
Vernon Hargreaves III, Jr., DB

Georgia
*Malcolm Mitchell, Sr., WR
John Theus, Sr., OT
Jordan Jenkins, Sr., OLB

Kentucky
*Melvin Lewis, Sr., NG
Jordan Swindle, Sr., OT
A.J. Stamps, Sr., S

LSU
*Leonard Fournette, So., RB
Vadal Alexander, Sr., OT
Kendell Beckwith, Jr., LB

Ole Miss
*Evan Engram, Jr., TE
Mike Hilton, Sr., DB
C.J. Johnson, Sr., LB

Mississippi State
*Dak Prescott, Sr., QB
Taveze Calhoun, Sr., DB
Ryan Brown, Sr., DE

Missouri
*Kenya Dennis, Sr., DB
Maty Mauk, Jr., QB
Evan Boehm, Sr., C

South Carolina
*Elliott Fry, Jr., PK
Pharoh Cooper, Jr., WR
Skai Moore, Jr., LB

Tennessee
*Joshua Dobbs, Jr., QB
Curt Maggitt, Sr., LB/DL
Cameron Sutton, Jr., DB

Texas A&M
*Mike Matthews, Sr., C
Germain Ifedi, Jr., OT
Julien Obioha, Sr., DL

Vanderbilt
*Ralph Webb, So., RB
Nigel Bowden, So., LB
Spencer Pulley, Sr., C

* ‘Beyond The Field: Stories of the SEC’ Representative

Some good news for Tennessee: Peyton Manning sees more ‘Sunday bodies’

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Tennessee was shut out of last weekend’s NFL Draft, which on the surface can be viewed as a problem and/or indictment of the program.

But that’d be missing the larger point. A tidal wave of players will make the sophomore-junior leap while Butch Jones has pulled in a ton of top recruits since taking over in Knoxville. And perhaps the most famous Tennessee alum is seeing the improvements:

Per 247 Sports, Tennessee projects to have 14 upperclassmen starters in 2015, many of whom have been through plenty of close games over the last two years. Pairing that experience with their natural talent should begin to pay off for guys like Josh Dobbs and an offensive line made up of four upperclassmen and a very good sophomore right guard in Jashon Robertson.

But here’s the other thing about Tennessee: As of now, they don’t have any players projected as 2016 first-round picks in the way-too-early mock drafts that are out there (like CBS Sports, Walter Football and Bleacher Report). So perhaps there won’t be a mass exodus of talent out of Knoxville after this coming season, even if Manning sees the potential for plenty of these guys to make it in the NFL.