One month into the 2017 season, Tennessee Vols’ quarterback Quinten Dormady leads the SEC in turnovers.
Sure, the Vols are 3-1 after the underwhelming 17-13 win over UMass Saturday. But, Dormady’s six turnovers this season have given Vol fans brain cramps. His three interceptions (including a pick-6) against Florida created at least a 10 point swing.
Even when Dormady isn’t turning the ball over – he has six touchdown passes in four games – fan’s give facial expressions like they just walked past a smelly dumpster.
Why? Because he looks like a freshman. Quinten Dormady is a junior, in his third year in Butch Jones’ Tennessee Vols Football program. He shouldn’t have issues with his footwork. Dormady should look more comfortable leading an offense. He should be able to make good decisions and go through his progressions reading a defense. But, right now he isn’t. And that’s not entirely his fault.
Quinten Dormady attempted only 37 passes in games for Tennessee during his first two years on campus. No, he was not redshirted for one of those years. While Joshua Dobbs was able to lead the Vols to a 18-8 record in those two years, ample opportunities to break Dormady in for the “life after Dobbs” era were completely wasted.
When you don’t put inferior opponents away early, you lose an opportunity to develop young players.
— Houston Kress (@VolRumorMill) September 23, 2017
The UMass game is a perfect example of one of those wasted opportunities. Tennessee should have been up by four touchdowns by halftime to give the young Vol reserves a chance to get real game experience for the back end of their careers. Instead, Tennessee scored a TD in the last minute of the second quarter to extend the lead to 14-6.
The 17-13 final score shows that the starters need more work, more reps, more experience.
As Houston Kress, of Fox Sports Knoxville, tweeted the Vols were not able to develop depth. It’s year five for Butch Jones.
Here are four games where Dormady and other were not able to develop due to the Vols’ inability to dominate when they’re supposed to.
2015 – Game 1 vs Bowling Green – 59-30 Vols win
Even though the Vols rushed for 399 yards and six TDs on the day, the defense kept Dormady and other young players on the sideline.
At one point Tennessee held a 21-3 first quarter lead. Then it vanished to 21-20. Then a 35-20 lead became a one score lead at 35-27 early in the third quarter. You could say the 80-minute lightning delay, mid-third quarter, ended Bowling Green’s chances. Josh Dobbs’ TD run in the fourth quarter finally put it away, 56-30.
Quinten Dormady Stats: 0-1 passing, 3 carries for 10 yards.
2015 – Game 10 vs North Texas – 24-0 win
The Mean Green from North Texas waltzed into Neyland Stadium with a 1-8 record. It should have been 24-0 well before halftime. But, Tennessee’s lackadaisical offense couldn’t keep drives alive, only going 7-16 on third down.
This game wasn’t the defenses fault like it was against Bowling Green. Alvin Kamara’s rushing TD early in the fourth quarter gave us the final score.
Quinten Dormady Stats: 3-5 for 36 yards passing, four carries for six yards.
2016 – Game 1 vs Appalachian State – 20-13 win, OT
Tennessee opened 2016 with a top 10 ranking and the first nationally televised game of the entire college football season on Thursday night. This game was a near absolute disaster as Jalen Hurd recovered a Dobbs fumble in the end zone, to win in overtime.
Appalachian State won the Sun Belt Conference that season with a 9-3 regular season, but that is no excuse for the Vols flirting with defeat.
Quinten Dormady Stats: Did not play.
2016 – Game 3 vs Ohio – 28-19 win
Two games later, same story.
Tennessee finally boat-raced Virginia Tech in the Battle of Bristol and looked to have things figured out. However, 4TD underdog Ohio trailed by only two, 21-19, heading into the fourth quarter.
This game was the main injury bug game for the Vols last year as defensive captains Jalen Reeves-Maybin and Cam Sutton both went down. Back up linebacker Quarte Sapp also was lost for the year in that game.
Quinten Dormady Stats: Did not play.
Don’t blame Dormady
Dormady has plenty of talent. So does back-up Jarrett Guarantano. Both were high four-star recruits with a stacked scholarship offer list in high school.
So when you get mad at the QBs for looking like freshmen… remember, this coaching staff wasted a LOT of chances to groom their young talent. This goes deeper than just the quarterback position. The Vols are now in a cycle of learning on the job. 2017’s starters, mostly, are getting their first chances to play, their first chances to make mistakes and learn from them.
Do the two quarterbacks look that much better from the first day they stepped on campus? Not really.
Maybe that’s also because Butch Jones did not have an actual quarterback coach on the staff the previous two years. He hired one this offseason in Mike Canales. Canales, a good friend of Jones and a good person, had not worked at a Power 5 football program since 2006.
While I have your attention, Jones hired Larry Scott as his offensive coordinator. Scott is a great recruiter and the players love him. But he’d never called plays in college football.
So, if you’re wondering why the Vols’ passing game looks anemic one month in… notice that the coaches haven’t really done these two green QBs many favors.