Tag Archives: Josh Dobbs

Five Way Too Early Predictions for SEC Football in 2017

I know we still have a while to go until we get our beloved SEC football Saturdays back, but I just can’t wait. SEC football is on my mind all the time. So here are just a few of my recurring thoughts about this coming season.

Georgia will be the team to beat in the East

Let’s be honest, Kirby Smart’s first season in Athens was a little underwhelming. The worst moment of the season for the Dawgs had to be that last-minute loss to the Vols at home. Just when Jacob Eason had led them down the field to take the lead, Josh Dobbs and Jauan Jennings connected for an unbelievable Hail Mary. I fully expect Georgia fans to be able to put that pain behind them next season. Eason will have more experience, the defense will have more experience, and coach Smart will also have more head coaching experience.

South Carolina will have more than one good upset win

This past season wasn’t particularly impressive for South Carolina in its first year under Will Muschamp. But, the Gamecocks did manage to get a pretty nice upset win over the Vols. They were a huge part of why Tennessee never made it to Atlanta. The Gamecocks showed promise in most games, even many of the losses. The only game they might want to erase from memory is that Clemson thrashing at the end of the season. But with another year under Muschamp’s guidance and with his recruits coming in, I anticipate two upset wins out of the Gamecocks this season.

Butch Jones will get run out of Knoxville

This call may be a little early. But with all his press conference clichés, I think this might be the year Tennessee fans grab their pitchforks and run Jones out of town. Heck, after that Vanderbilt loss to end the regular season my dad had decided not to renew his season tickets for 2017. Guess he doesn’t want to be part of another championship of life. Or maybe he just doesn’t have that five-star heart. All this being said, the Vols may be in trouble next season. Their defense is a huge question mark and now they have a question mark starting at quarterback too. Just ask the Gators how well that second question mark works out in the SEC.

Alabama will win the West…again

No other team was truly a tough match for Alabama in the West last year, with the biggest challenges coming from LSU and Ole Miss. Ole Miss later lost star quarterback Chad Kelly to injury and its season tanked. The Rebels were more of a pretender than an actual contender. LSU had a slow start, but ended up in some good games under then-interim (now head) coach Ed Orgeron. But at the end of the day, Alabama was still dominant in the SEC. Alabama dominated all the way until the national championship game that it lost to Clemson. That loss may sting, but with quarterback Jalen Hurts having more experience, I expect Alabama to be number one in the West and headed right back to Atlanta again in December. Also, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that Alabama still has Nick Saban.

But LSU will make it close

The LSU Tigers had arguably one of the most interesting seasons out of the entire SEC in 2016. Les Miles was fired and replaced on an interim basis by Defensive Line Coach Ed Orgeron. Orgeron led the team to a 5-2 finish (after starting the season 2-2 under Miles). Additionally, LSU dominated Louisville and its Heisman-winning quarterback Lamar Jackson in the Citrus Bowl. On top of all this, Orgeron put together a top ten recruiting class in his first time recruiting as LSU’s head coach. With Orgeron leading, talent returning, and talent coming in, the Tigers are poised to finish second in the SEC West and maybe even give the Crimson Tide a run for its money.

You can email Kristen at kristen.botica@campuspressbox.com and follow her on Twitter @KristenBotica.

Image courtesy of Sean Davis, Flickr.

It’s OK Tennessee, You’ll Probably Only Lose By 30

Hey look, you had a good run Tennessee. You made everyone think that you were legit and had a shot to win it all. It’s time now, though. It’s time that the Volunteers admit that they are frauds.

It’s our own fault, really. After Tennessee had to go to overtime to survive Appalachian State, we should’ve known. This year’s Appalachian State isn’t that same FCS-defending champion that knocked off Michigan in 2007 either. The Mountaineers are basically a middle of the road MAC team in 2016 (since no one knows what a good Sun Belt Conference team looks like). A team that wants people to think they can contend for a playoff berth shouldn’t have struggled with Appalachian State.

Sure, Tennessee beat Florida but so what? Florida might not even be that good either. Who have the Gators beat? Kentucky is only good at basketball and the University of Massachusetts is 1-5. Well, I guess Florida did destroy the powerhouse of Vanderbilt 13-6… oh wait, Vanderbilt is not very good either.

Let’s also not forget that it took a hail mary to defeat perennial disappointment Georgia. Georgia was Tennessee before Tennessee was Tennessee. Always a bunch of hype and a bunch of talent but never any results. I’m not sure there’s anything else that can be said about Georgia that hasn’t already been said.

Then the luck finally ran out against Texas A&M in double overtime. There was no dramatic come from behind win, no crying Butch Jones. Just your typical SEC “defensive struggle”. Can we stop pretending like the SEC is the gold standard for defense now? 28 to Florida, 31 to Georgia, and 45 points to A&M is a lot of points to give up.

And now you get… Alabama.

I’m not sure if you’re familiar with Nick Saban, but he isn’t going to allow a miracle to beat him. Auburn did that to him once and it hasn’t happened since. He might have had to sell a little more of his soul but hey, he’s got a statue and we don’t. A statue that someone was dumb enough to put a Tennessee flag on. Just ask USC how poking the bear went. Regardless, Nick Saban is going to be watching for a little miracle resurgence and he will squash it like he squashes everyone else’s SEC championship hopes.

Look here, Josh Dobbs. You can block everyone on Twitter that you want but it’s not going to help you against that Crimson Tide defense. Let me break it down for you:

You’re averaging 33 points a game against lesser teams.

Alabama is giving up just under 16 points a game and has defeated three ranked teams.

Tennessee is allowing almost 27 points a game and hasn’t shutout even the lowliest of opponents.

Alabama’s scoring almost 45 points a game. You can’t even pretend like that number’s inflated either because their highest scoring affair was against Arkansas.

Tennessee broke one streak this year after defeating Florida, so that should be good enough. No need to get your hopes up here, Volunteers. It’s not like a nine-game losing streak to Alabama is anything to be ashamed about. There are some teams that are probably jealous of only having lost nine times in a row to Alabama, or if they aren’t yet they will be soon.

Maybe next year, Tennessee. Well… maybe not. Your year will come eventually but it won’t be until you somehow don’t have to play Nick Saban.

E-mail Tim at tim [dot] bach [at] campuspressbox [dot] com.

Image credit: Kyle Botica

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Grab Your Beer: We Have a Perfect Saturday Slate of SEC Football

I’m going to take you back to an article I wrote before the season got underway. I came up with the nightmarish scenario of only being able to watch one SEC football game per week. Then I picked the games I’d watch each week if that were the case.

Weeks 1-5, I was pretty much dead-on. Week 6 is where SEC football makes me feel a little silly.

That’s because it’s now Week 6 and there are three huge conference match-ups that I will watch. Ironically, the one that I initially picked over the others seems to be the one of least consequence here. And by that, I mean I picked the LSU Tigers visiting the Florida Gators as my one game to watch.

Don’t get me wrong. I’ll definitely be watching the Tigers pay the Gators a visit. But if I had to choose just one game to watch, it might not be that game anymore.

Fortunately, my nightmare hasn’t come true and I do not have to pick only one game to watch. The schedule works out perfectly for the SEC football fan in me this week, as I get to watch three amazing games. So here’s a preview of what this perfect Saturday as SEC football fan will look like.

At noon on ESPN, the Tigers play the Gators. This game may not be the best of the weekend but it’s still intriguing in many ways.

LSU fired head coach Les Miles and left Ed Orgeron in charge for the time being. At the same time, star RB Leonard Fournette’s status is “day-by-day” with an ankle injury. Additionally, Danny Etling has taken over at quarterback instead of Brandon Harris. Yes, they beat the Missouri Tigers in convincing fashion, but that was at home against a team that was winless in SEC play. With or without Leonard Fournette, it’ll be interesting to see how this Tiger team handles a road game against a ranked opponent now that Miles is gone.

Florida has question marks, but for completely different reasons. The Gators seem to have caught the injury bug, with their whole starting defensive line suffering some kind of injury. Not to mention that their biggest hope for having a good quarterback, Luke Del Rio, injured his knee taking a low hit a couple weeks ago. It also seems like the coaching staff hasn’t really figured out an effective rotation for the running backs, as made evident by Jordan Scarlett’s absence on many snaps last game. On top of that, there are questions about Florida’s rushing defense after how they handled Ralph Webb. This group of defensive backs is always great, but can the whole defense rise to the occasion of defending someone like Derrius Guice or possibly even Fournette?

After that game, Tennessee takes on Texas A&M on CBS at 3:30. Regardless of where your loyalty lies, why wouldn’t you want to watch a battle of unbeatens?

The Vols to have destiny or the football gods or even just some good juju on their side so far this season. Josh Dobbs has come through in a clutch way, and his passing game has helped lead the Vols to some pretty great comeback wins. Unfortunately, the Vols have suffered some injuries on defense and still have some ground to make up there. And there’s also the question of whether or not this team can play a whole game of good football instead of just playing a great second half. But, with fate seemingly on their side, you just can’t count out this Vols team.

Texas A&M, once again, has gotten off to a 5-0 start this season. This is the third season in a row that they’ve gotten off to such a start. But will this be the first of those years that they also win Game 6? It very well could be. Trevor Knight has proven to be solid at quarterback, and a great supporting cast surrounds him. The Aggies are ranked in the top 50 FBS teams in passing yards, rushing yards, points for, and points against. No question marks about that.

At 7:00, flip back to ESPN to watch as Alabama pays Arkansas a visit. Alabama is always good, but Arkansas has been surprisingly good this season too. That makes this game the upset alert of the week.

Alabama, like Tennessee, has had some slow starts. Okay, their starts are like a jog to Tennessee’s walk. But they definitely can’t afford to be jogging this game. As I’ve said before, the Crimson Tide may not have a super strong quarterback this year, but that doesn’t matter. True freshman Jalen Hurts does enough to make the rest of the team shine. They actually don’t even have a go-to running back like Derrick Henry this season, and that weakness worries me. But even if Alabama wins this one, they go to Tennessee next and host Texas A&M after that.

I never know what to make of Arkansas. All I know is that at any given moment, they could pull off a borderline erotic upset win. I have my doubts after their loss to Texas A&M, but you just never know. They have a great quarterback in Austin Allen, but how will he handle an elite defense? And even more worrisome than that is the question of how the Razorback defense will handle Alabama’s potent offense. I’ll always give them the upset factor, but if they manage to pull this one off it might be just plain erotic for coach Bret Bielema.

Now I have just one request: Grab a beer (or six) and enjoy what will probably be an exciting day of SEC football.

You can email Kristen at kristen.botica@campuspressbox.com and follow her on Twitter @OGKristenB.

Featured photo courtesy of Gainesville Apartments.

The Tennessee Vols Will Keep Snatching Souls on their Way to Being SEC East Champs

Last Friday, I picked the Tennessee Vols to beat Florida…well, actually I said they would “WTFA.” That turned out to be true. Over a month ago, three of us here at Campus Pressbox (including myself), picked the Vols to win the SEC East. And before that, I even wrote an article listing some pretty major reasons why the Vols would win the SEC East this year. Four games into the season, I’m sticking with it all.

The truth is that it really isn’t over until it’s actually over. But if I had money to bet I’d be putting it all on the Tennessee Vols to win the SEC East right now.

That’s not to say the Florida Gators can’t win out in SEC play and somehow end up beating out the Vols. With the way LSU football has been going, Florida’s schedule is starting to look a bit easier. It’s also not to say the Georgia Bulldogs can’t bounce back from that ugly loss at Ole Miss. They can, but they would still have to get through both the Vols and the Gators.

What I am saying is that I believe that the Tennessee Vols will win the SEC East just as much as I believed it before the season started. I actually may believe it even more than that. Butch Jones has finally gotten just the win he needed. And this team is something special. There’s no denying that.

People will always have something to say about Josh Dobbs because he isn’t a traditional passing quarterback. But he is at the heart of why this team is so successful. He is exactly the kind of leader you want on your side when you come into the second half down 21-3. He’s relentless and he isn’t afraid. He’ll take some hard hits from a blitz as long as it means he got a chance to fire off that pass. He won’t let the pressure get to his head. He will go out there and prove every single person who doubts him wrong. And you have to love that about Josh Dobbs.

Beyond Dobbs, there are so many other players who make this team special. Because of all of Florida cornerback Jalen Tabor’s trash talk, nobody will forget that Jauan Jennings catch that really opened up the lead for the Vols in the second half. Jalen Hurd was a workhorse as usual, with 26 carries for 95 yards. Josh Malone had another good game for the Vols, putting up 91 yards receiving and a touchdown. Todd Kelly, Jr. had a great interception for the Vols. Evan Berry finally was able to show how explosive he can be on kick returns. Alvin Kamara even helped with field position for the Vols on punt returns. All in all, it was a true team effort that won this game for the Vols.

This team showed that when they are firing on all cylinders, they could be nearly unstoppable. That was something I hadn’t yet seen from the Tennessee Vols this year. They also showed just how resilient they are by coming back from an 18-point deficit to win by 10 points. Even when some of their own fans had turned on them, they never let up. They kept playing the game the way they knew they could and they were eventually rewarded for it.

Now, back to reality. That game opened up a really tough stretch for the Tennessee Vols. This coming weekend, they’ll be visiting the Georgia Bulldogs in Athens. The weekend after that they’ll go to College Station to face the Texas A&M Aggies. And after that game, they come back home to host the Alabama Crimson Tide. The road to the SEC Championship Game definitely won’t be easy, but this team seems as capable as any to power through.

Maybe I’m biased because this is my hometown team, but nobody can deny that the Tennessee Vols looked downright scary in that second half on Saturday. They snatched the souls right out of the Florida players’ bodies. Now they just need to bring that same intensity for the entire game these next few weeks. Remember: #WGWTFA.

You can email Kristen at kristen.botica@campuspressbox.com and follow her on Twitter @OGKristenB.

Photo by Kristen Botica.

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The Tennessee Vols Will End Florida’s Streak and “WTFA” While They’re at It

It’s that time of the year. It’s time for one of the most important games all year for me as a fan of the Tennessee Vols. It’s time for the Volunteers to finally start a streak of their own and show Gator fans why this is a true rivalry.

Beyond just Tennessee, we have to win this game for the good of the American people. Why? Florida’s usual starting quarterback Luke Del Rio is out with an injury. That means that Florida is starting their transfer quarterback from Purdue, Austin Appleby. And apparently Austin Appleby is a fan of Osama Bin Laden. Well, maybe not a fan, but he still dressed up like him. There’s actually photo evidence.

Don’t even get me started about that trash-talking delinquent Jalen Tabor. Apparently he thinks it’s pretty obvious that Florida will beat Tennessee. I’m sure it’ll shut him up (at least for a bit) when he finds out just how wrong he is. Maybe he’ll even disappear from Twitter again.

I know what Florida fans are thinking: The Vols have lost eleven years in a row, so what has changed? Well, I can tell you what hasn’t changed. Florida’s offense is still nothing special. And it’ll be even worse with Appleby having to start at quarterback this week. Appleby, by the way, threw as many interceptions as he did touchdowns in his time at Purdue. He’s pretty much nothing for the Vols to worry about.

Let’s not forget all the assets that the Vols have on their side. Offensively, they boast an impressive trio of guys who can all provide substantial rushing yardage. Quarterback Josh Dobbs is great on his feet and so are running backs Jalen Hurd and Alvin Kamara. Now, if the Vols could only get the ball to Kamara in space…

One other very obvious thing that Tennessee has working in their favor is their attitude. And I mean that #WGWTFA attitude. (WARNING: The video features strong language.)

But really, can you beat an attitude like that? Virginia Tech couldn’t at that game in Bristol. Now it’s Florida’s turn to give it a try. We’ll see how well that “try” goes in front of over 100,000 rambunctious fans in Neyland stadium tomorrow.

I know there’s been some talk of a supposed curse from certain things. Apparently checkering Neyland is a bad sign. And the grey uniforms don’t have a stellar record…yet. AND College Gameday is going to be in town. Basically, things don’t look good for the Vols when you consider those circumstances.

There are other circumstances that matter infinitely more. Like Derek Barnett putting a beating on Appleby and Justin Martin, adding to Appleby’s interception count. When (not if) the Vols do those things, there will be thousands of happy Vol fans singing “Rocky Top” as loud as they can on Saturday. So loud that it will almost definitely haunt Florida’s players in their dreams later. This has been eleven years coming, so it will absolutely not disappoint.

In summary, if you ask me how Saturday will go I’ll tell you one thing: #WGWTFA.


You can email Kristen at kristen.botica@campuspressbox.com and follow her on Twitter @OGKristenB.

Photo by Kristen Botica.

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SEC Quarterbacks Are Downright Unimpressive

Anybody who knows me at all knows that I have a special place in my heart for SEC football. I really do. But I can’t sit by and be silent about this. The SEC quarterbacks, once again, look overwhelmingly bad. At the risk of sounding cliché, watching the SEC quarterback play so far this year is like watching paint dry.

I can’t think of a single SEC quarterback who actually excites me right now. Meanwhile, I can think of four or five ACC quarterbacks that do. This is madness. How does the conference with the most ranked teams have the worst quarterbacks? I just don’t get it.

Usually, the SEC East is a mess and the SEC West is great. This year, everybody except for Alabama (and maybe Texas A&M) is a mess. Yet somehow there are still eight teams ranked in the AP top 25 at the moment. I’ll let you in on a little something, though—they definitely aren’t ranked because of their quarterbacks.

So here is where I go through every SEC team, by division and in alphabetical order, to prove a point. I’ll keep the assessment for each team brief.

The Florida Gators have been starting Luke Del Rio at quarterback. On the season so far he has 762 passing yards, 6 touchdowns, and two interceptions. But unfortunately for the Gators, he’s sidelined due to a knee injury and they’ll have to rely on Purdue graduate transfer Austin Appleby for now. Just when they were getting some momentum…

The Georgia Bulldogs seemed pretty well-off as far as quarterbacks go when the season started. Both Greyson Lambert (who was solid last year) and Jacob Eason (who’s a true freshman) have taken snaps for the Dawgs, with Eason taking the majority of the snaps. Eason has racked up 643 yards passing, five touchdowns, and two interceptions. Not bad…and also not fantastic.

The Kentucky Wildcats have played both Drew Barker and Stephen Johnson at quarterback, but Barker went down against New Mexico State and Kentucky has had more success with Johnson now anyways. He has 355 yards passing, three touchdowns, and no interceptions. In the second week at Florida, Drew Barker actually threw three interceptions to the Florida defense and only completed two passes to his own players. Oops!

The Missouri Tigers have mostly stuck with quarterback Drew Lock so far this season. A bright spot in the East, he has 1106 passing yards, nine touchdowns, and three interceptions. But, the Tigers are still struggling, only managing to win one of their first three games this season.

The South Carolina Gamecocks haven’t had all that much luck at quarterback between Brandon McIlwain and Perry Orth. McIlwain has been slightly better than his competition, with 356 yards passing, two touchdowns, and no interceptions. He also added 80 yards rushing and two more touchdowns on the ground. But with Muschamp at the helm, I don’t know if they’ll ever have great quarterback play.

The Tennessee Volunteers have had pretty much the same Josh Dobbs they’ve been behind for a couple years now. So far his passing game leaves a lot to be desired with 486 passing yards, six touchdowns, and three interceptions. On the bright side, he has added 161 yards rushing and three touchdowns on the ground. He’s also been a great leader despite being behind a shaky offensive line.

The Vanderbilt Commodores have struggled offensively (as always) behind Kyle Shurmur so far this year. He’s had 335 yards passing for two touchdowns and one interception. If Shurmur could get it together, maybe they could actually win a couple conference games this season.

But wait…there’s more! We still have another division full of mediocre quarterbacks to go.

The Alabama Crimson Tide have had Jalen Hurts take the majority of their snaps at quarterback this year. He has 563 passing yards, four touchdowns, and one interception. He’s also added 197 rushing yards and two more touchdowns on the ground. Plus, they’re Alabama. Their quarterback play won’t make or break their season.

The Arkansas Razorbacks have stuck with Austin Allen as their quarterback so far this season. Allen has 655 yards passing, seven touchdowns, and two interceptions. He’s been good so far; he just hasn’t been outstanding.

The Auburn Tigers had some fun at quarterback against Clemson to open the season, but Sean White is now taking the snaps. He has 510 passing yards, three touchdowns, and one interception so far. Meh.

The LSU Tigers started off the season behind Brandon Harris at quarterback but have since given the nod to Danny Etling. Etling has 315 passing yards, two touchdowns, and one interception. He also does have one rushing touchdown. He may not be great, but I think he’s better than Harris.

The Mississippi State Bulldogs have played both Nick Fitzgerald and Damian Williams at quarterback so far this year. Fitzgerald has edged out Williams with 298 passing yards, two touchdowns, and one interception to Williams’ 237 passing yards and two touchdowns. Additionally, Fitzgerald has 219 yards on the ground and Williams has 88 yards as well as a touchdown. While they seem fairly evenly matched, neither is too exciting at this point.

The Ole Miss Rebels have Chad “Swag” Kelly, who was supposed to be the best quarterback in the nation. Kelly does have 953 passing yards and ten touchdowns, but he also has four interceptions. The Rebels will live and die by Kelly this season so those mistakes are costly.

The Texas A&M Aggies have Trevor Knight at quarterback. Knight has 830 passing yards, five touchdowns, and two interceptions. He also has 151 rushing yards and three more touchdowns on the ground. He’s no Lamar Jackson, but he’s better than most SEC quarterbacks.

Now that you’ve made it through that, maybe you can understand why I’m just unimpressed with the SEC quarterbacks at this point. You know things are rough when Missouri arguably has the best quarterback at the moment. Missouri…a team that has lost two of their first three games. I guess you could argue that Trevor Knight is just as good since he’s more of a dual-threat quarterback. But either way, those two are the best the SEC has to offer right now and that’s not good.

Now, I understand that just looking at these stats isn’t really fair in a lot of ways. Offensive lines not giving time to throw or space to run can be absolutely devastating for quarterbacks. Receivers dropping passes can be just as bad. And facing good secondary units can also be incredibly tough for a quarterback. But even with those things in mind, there isn’t a single quarterback in the SEC that has really impressed me or excited me the way quarterbacks in other conferences have. I didn’t expect there to be a Heisman trophy-winning quarterback from the SEC, but I also didn’t expect the performances to be this lackluster.

Fortunately for SEC fans and our quarterbacks, football isn’t just about that one player taking the snaps. In the SEC it tends to be more about running backs and defenses. That’s probably why there’s still a whopping eight SEC football teams ranked in the AP Top 25, like I mentioned before. And as much as quarterback play can be fun to watch, I prefer watching some hard-hitting SEC defense anyways. So maybe I should save my complaining for the day the defenses are weak.

Here’s the big question for this year will SEC teams be able to compete in the postseason when these SEC quarterbacks are playing like this? If you ask me, it depends on the team. If you have a great defense, a solid offensive line, and a good back or two, then you can compete with anyone. That’s why Alabama is virtually unstoppable. But otherwise, you’ll just become another overrated SEC team. And nobody wants that.

And then there’s the other big question. Why is this such a problem for the SEC and will it continue next year? In all honesty, I still haven’t figured out why the SEC doesn’t have the same quarterback depth that the other major conferences do. But this isn’t something new by any means. And while it may get a little better next season as some of the guys mentioned above take more snaps and gain experience, I don’t expect the SEC to have phenomenal quarterback play anytime soon. I’ll leave that to the ACC for now.

You can email Kristen at kristen.botica@campuspressbox.com and follow her on Twitter @OGKristenB.

Image courtesy of Ken Lund.

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Josh Dobbs Is Living Proof Tennessee Athletes Aren’t Just Whiny Idiots

Now usually I try not to get heated by Internet trolls. But because of Vol quarterback Josh Dobbs, I came across something today that absolutely made my blood boil. My Tennessee orange blood, that is.

In case you didn’t know, #VolTwitter is a thing. It’s actually a pretty fantastic thing if you’re a Tennessee Volunteers football fan. It’s also a great thing if you hate Florida cornerback Jalen Tabor.

Today, Vol Twitter transformed itself a bit when Dobbs publicly stepped in to defend his fellow student-athletes. He was, in fact, defending them against this very poorly written article about their supposed whining.

Did you read it? If not, you probably won’t understand how absolutely furious I am right now. I assure you, I am this angry for a very solid reason.

First of all, how are you going to write an article insinuating that athletes are whiny and in that same article just whine about your own college experience?

You had food poisoning. How is that relevant to college athletics? You spend a lot of time earning your scholarship as an honors student. Again, how is that relevant? It seems like this is just a case of the pot calling the kettle black.

I could stop there, but I won’t. I have known many great athletes at both the school in my hometown, the University of Tennessee, and the school I attend, the University of Florida.

And when I say great, I’m not just talking about their success on the field or the court. I’m talking about these athletes as real human beings. In case you didn’t know, athletes are people too.

For example, Josh Dobbs, who reacted to this article on Twitter, is supposedly one of the nicest football players you could ever meet. And he’s also incredibly intelligent and will have a degree in aerospace engineering pretty soon.

That degree isn’t something the tutors earned for him. His classes aren’t something he’s ever whined about, either. He just knows that he’s one of thousands of student-athletes out there who always strive to be better. He’s the epitome of a great student-athlete.

Josh Dobbs aside, there are plenty of other reasons I have problems with what was said in this ridiculous article.

To put things in perspective for you, I came to the University of Florida because of a scholarship I earned through the Honors program. I have that same kind of honors school background in common with the author. But what I have beyond what she displays there is empathy and respect for these athletes.

So, maybe being an honors student requires extra time and effort. We get scholarships for that.

Being a football player is an entirely different thing, though. Athletes dedicate every fiber of their being to becoming part of these athletic programs with millions of fans. This kind of dedication is not like being an honors student. This kind of dedication is far beyond being an honors student.

You don’t just dedicate your mind and your time to a sport, you dedicate your body to a sport. And in the case of football, you can pay a pretty steep price for that kind of decision.

But athletes make this choice to do what they love, make schools money, and keep fans happy. That is an incredibly honorable decision. Anybody who says anything otherwise really must be ignorant of the lifestyles of actual student-athletes.

The author also mentions how ridiculous it is for athletes to be calling coaches for food because their fridges are empty. Their fridges wouldn’t be empty if they had time for jobs. But, because of their dedication to the school, they don’t have that time.

Not to mention, countless NCAA student athletes come from poor families who can’t afford to provide them any additional food. Their sports scholarships are their meal tickets. And this meal ticket has been rightfully earned. Whether it’s the special meals they have in their own cafeterias or the meals their coaches provide for them should not matter. It is all something that has been earned through literal blood, sweat and tears.

And if I’m being honest, honors students like myself (or the author of the article in question) would not have the opportunities we do if it weren’t for these so-called whiny athletes.

The millions of dollars these athletes make for our schools should not be undervalued just because we don’t like athletes talking about going hungry. These athletes deserve our respect and it’s time we all realize that.

If you have such a problem with people dedicating their entire lives to making your school money and getting benefits in return, then transfer to a school without major athletic programs. You’ll soon learn that there are a lot of nice things you won’t have without the money generated from these “whiny” athletes.

Email Kristen at kristen.botica@campuspressbox.com and follow her on Twitter @OGKristenB.

Featured photo taken by Kristen Botica.

The Battle at Bristol Lived up to the Hype

I am one of the crazy fans that had been excited about the Battle at Bristol ever since the day it was first announced that this game would actually be happening. That was three years ago. Those three years left a lot of time for the hype around this game to build to astronomical heights. Let me tell you, using my experience on Saturday and the football game itself, why this game was not a letdown.

Battle at Bristol

Look at that. It is a sight to see. That many people are all in one stadium for a college football game. In case you missed the official number, the attendance ended up being a whopping 156,990 people. No venue in college football could accomplish that feat, but Bristol Motor Speedway did. Every single person at that game is now a part of college football history.

I’ve seen fans from pretty much every other team I know saying how terrible this venue was and how they’d never want to go to a game like this. Right. If this were your team you would be just as excited to make history as all those Virginia Tech Hokies and Tennessee Volunteers fans were. And this may be hard to believe, but I actually could see the game just fine from my seats. I only used the Collosus TV board to watch replays. I didn’t even bring binoculars. There was actually no need for them. So no, it wasn’t just like watching the game at home on a big screen TV. Plus, there’s that electric atmosphere that was absolutely unbeatable.

Josh Dobbs

I don’t think I’ve ever witnessed a “Vol Walk” this absolutely packed before. Tennessee quarterback Joshua Dobbs almost blends in with the mass of fans in this picture I took. But that wasn’t all.

Since the Battle at Bristol took place on the eve of the 15th anniversary of September 11, 2011, the event was designed to be especially patriotic. During the National anthem, the fans took part in a “stadium stunt,” creating probably one of the coolest things I’ve ever been a part of, as far as this kind of stuff goes. I literally had goosebumps.

Battle at Bristol

Even beyond all the pomp and circumstance that came with the event, it was quite the football game to watch live. I’m sure that the Hokie fans in attendance aren’t quite as happy as I am today, but nobody will deny what an incredible experience it was.

In the first quarter, Virginia Tech jumped out to a 14-0 lead and its offense seemed unstoppable. At the same time, Tennessee’s offense behind Josh Dobbs seemed pretty pitiful. The hearts of Vol fans were breaking as some of them began murmuring things in the stands about Head Coach Butch Jones. It started to seem almost hopeless.

In the second quarter, Tennessee put its foot on the gas and never looked back. The Vols went into the half with a 24-14 lead after two fumble recoveries, three touchdowns, and a field goal all in the second quarter. I have never seen so many fans deliriously happy while singing “Rocky Top” at the top of their lungs. And everybody loved Butch Jones again.

In the second half, Tennessee did allow a Virginia Tech field goal but that was about it until a late touchdown. The Vols, on the other hand, had three more touchdowns in that half. The final score made the game look like more of a blowout than it truly was, but as a Vol fan I won’t sit here and complain. I’ve learned to take whatever I can get.

Battle at Bristol

That final scoreboard was a thing of beauty for Vol fans, but there are still many questions for the Vols. Next week, they host the Ohio Bobcats at Neyland. The week after that, they open up SEC play at home against the Florida Gators. While they can expect to win that Ohio game regardless (even if Ohio is better than you might think), I won’t say the same for the Florida game.

Tennessee’s defensive line wasn’t containing the Hokies at all in the first quarter, but beyond that the defense did very well. The turnovers say it all.

Unfortunately, Tennessee’s offense was still not too impressive behind the dynamic duo of running backs, Jalen Hurd and Alvin Kamara, as well as quarterback Josh Dobbs. Dobbs did his part and so did Hurd and Kamara, but without all the short fields from Virginia Tech’s mistakes, the scoreboard may have looked very different.

Now that the offensive line problems seem to be settled, it will be up to the coaching staff to find a way to really turn on the jets against Ohio next week. Tennessee really needs to find a way to get consistent offensive production before they start a brutal stretch of conference play.

The Vols definitely can’t rely on good field position when it comes to the Florida game on the 24th. Florida quarterback Luke Del Rio protects the ball infinitely better than former Gator Treon Harris ever did. Not to mention, the Gators actually intercepted more passes than the Kentucky Wildcats completed in their game on Saturday.

At the end of the day, I do have to say that the Battle at Bristol was a huge success. And hey, I was right about it ultimately not being too much of a battle. As you can tell, I was very happy about that!

Battle at Bristol

Email Kristen at kristen.botica@campuspressbox.com and follow her on Twitter @OGKristenB.

Photos: Kristen Botica

Sorry Hokies, the Battle at Bristol Won’t Be Much of a Battle

I have waited two long years for this game—the Battle at Bristol. And now that it’s here I’m just ready to watch my Tennessee Volunteers run circles around the Virginia Tech Hokies. Run circles…at a NASCAR track…get it?!

I’ve been waiting for a while to get this off my chest. I hate to break it to you, Virginia Tech, but having Justin Fuente won’t just magically turn you into last year’s Memphis Tigers team. And no, Jerod Evans is not the next Cam Newton. Calm down.

Virginia Tech seems like just another wannabe SEC team to me. You hire Justin Fuente after a 37-24 upset over SEC West power Ole Miss. You bring in a junior college quarterback who is most often compared to Cam Newton. I see what you’re doing, but it’s not going to work. You’re like the cheap knockoff version of an SEC team that you’ll find being sold on a street corner in New York City. You look good from a distance, but once you get close enough you’re just another mediocre ACC football team.

And speaking of being a mediocre ACC team, when was the last time you won a championship trophy? No, the ACC Conference Championship doesn’t count. I’m talking about a national title. Spoiler alert: the answer is never. Another acceptable answer would be: in your dreams.

See, I just can’t relate to that. I was raised in East Tennessee in the heart of Vol Country. I may have been too young to know what was happening, but the Vols did win a championship—a national one—in my lifetime. While life as a Volunteers fan has been a little turbulent since then, I can rest easy knowing I’m lucky enough to not be a Hokie fan.

But enough about history, let’s talk about now. I’m sure Virginia Tech fans were licking their lips watching the Vols struggle against Appalachian State last weekend. But if you ask the experts at CBS, they’ll tell you that the Mountaineers are actually ranked ahead of the Hokies. No, I’m not joking. They have Appalachian State ranked 39th and Virginia Tech ranked 50th.

So now you might be resorting to something like, “Well the Vols looked awful and they’re lucky they won that game anyway.” I don’t want to hear it. The Hokies played a mediocre FCS team last weekend and struggled in the first quarter and even the beginning of the second quarter. Virginia Tech only won 36-13. Excuse me if I’m wrong, but I’m pretty sure you’re supposed to beat an unheard of FCS team by a lot more than 23 points. There is absolutely no room to talk about last weekend’s football game for the Vols against a tough FBS team. At the end of the day, Tennessee got a win that was at least as good as Virginia Tech’s win, when you consider the opponents.

As a Vol fan, part of me is honestly glad that last week was a real struggle for Tennessee. There have been ridiculously high expectations for the Vols this offseason and with good reason. But if Tennessee hadn’t been humbled prior to this matchup in the Battle at Bristol, I think the Hokies could’ve taken them by surprise. Now that Tennessee knows its weaknesses, has seen them on game film, and can address them, there will be no element of surprise for the Hokies on Saturday.

Saturday is going to be about just one thing: the talent playing out on that football field. Virginia Tech may have their own knock-off Cam Newton and some good targets for him on offense, but the Vols have more. Tennessee returns 17 starters from last year’s team, a team that finished at No. 22 in last year’s final AP poll. Head coach Butch Jones has a loaded offense behind Josh Dobbs, Jalen Hurd, and Alvin Kamara. And unlike the Hokies, they also have a loaded defense. Jalen Reeves-Maybin, Derek Barnett, and Cam Sutton are just a few of the players that come to mind when I think of that good ole SEC defense.

Virginia Tech fans, I’m glad we could get your hopes up with that mess of a football game we played last weekend. But I hope you spend the entire day in Bristol tailgating very hard so you don’t have to hold onto any painful memories of what this Tennessee team is going to do to you.

You can email Kristen at kristen.botica@campuspressbox.com and follow her on Twitter @OGKristenB.

Photo: Bristol Motor Speedway

Congratulations 2016 Heisman Trophy Winner, Josh Dobbs

Unless you didn’t watch yesterday’s game or are an absolute Tennessee nut job, you probably understood that this article’s title is complete sarcasm. It isn’t even the first Saturday of the college football season, and it seems that we’ve already eliminated someone from the Heisman race. I mean, he’s not completely eliminated from contention, but I can say that Josh Dobbs’ performance Thursday night against Appalachian State has to be one of, if not the “worst opening game from a Heisman candidate” I’ve ever seen. So let’s talk about what the physical embodiment of Mighty Mouse‘s first game so awful, and what it means for the rest of his season.

The Game

To put it bluntly, Josh Dobbs did more to hurt his Volunteers than help them in their opening game of the season. In fact, I would more or less say that the Volunteers won Thursday night’s matchup despite the supposed Heisman candidate. To start, he completed just over 50% of his passes, with many of his incompletions being errant throws or just bad decisions. He had a horrible interception at the end of the first half, which was almost duplicated in the second half on another play. Plus, I managed more rush yard from behind my keyboard than the man many consider to be “the best dual-threat QB in the country”. His Offensive line, which looked like they forgot how to block for half the game, though didn’t do Josh any favors. Nevertheless, Dobbs is supposed to be a dual threat QB, and the fact that he got negative yards against a Sun Belt team was not great for his Heisman candidacy.

None of that, however, did as much damage to Dobbs’ Heisman hopes Thursday night than the play that actually lead to the Volunteers’ victory. Dobbs attempted an Elway-esque move as he dove towards the end zone, and to say it backfired would be an understatement. Luckily for Dobbs, Jalen Hurd was there to bail him out and prevented Dobbs from dealing with boatloads of scrutiny. Nonetheless, check back with me later, as I believe the image of Josh Dobbs having the life hit out of him may define the Volunteers season to come.


Okay, okay. So last night’s game wasn’t an R.E.M. level disaster for Dobbs, however, it certainly leaves him with a lot, like a non-metaphorical ton, of work to make up the rest of the season. If the Volunteers want to win half of their conference matchups, it will definitely need a lot more from Dobbs than what we saw last night. Now the Appalachian State game could be great for Dobbs, as now that he’s seemingly eliminated himself from Heisman contention, Dobbs may be able to take a deep breath and concentrate on just playing quarterback. I frankly expect him to come out and play very well next week against Virginia Tech, and I think we will see more of the 2015 version of Dobbs 1.

But, last night’s performance may also have the Roberto Aguayo effect on Dobbs, and with VT, Florida and Georgia in the next month, Tennessee fans need to pray that Dobbs won’t need to hire a psychotherapist like Aguayo did. Tennessee’s coaching staff needs to make sure that one bad game doesn’t get to their star quarterback, because as I said, they are absolutely going to need him for the rest of the season. That being said, I’m in the camp that the Volunteers should play the Mighty Mouse theme song at their practices until Dobbs gets his mojo back.

E-mail Cooper at cooper.goetz@campuspressbox.com or follow him on Twitter @uf_goetz.
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Featured Image Courtesy of University of Tennessee

  1. Editors note: 2015 Josh Dobbs is the one Seth “loves”. -dB