With Joshua Dobbs heading to the NFL after leading a prolific offense the past couple of years for Tennessee, it’s only natural to want things to stay fairly close to the same.
Why fix something that isn’t broken, after all?
That’s one of the reasons we’ve all heard so much about former stud recruit Jarrett Guarantano this spring. Fans are enamored with his dual-threat ability, live arm and New Jersey swagger. His game is a little bit Dobbs-esque, even if we don’t know how it’ll translate once the games start. The former top-ranked dual-threat quarterback in the country as a 2016 recruit has a lot to offer entering his redshirt freshman year.
All that’s fine and good, but Saturday’s Orange & White Game belonged to junior Quinten Dormady.
The Boerne, Texas, signal-caller was sharp all day in a storm-shortened spring finale, completing 10-of-10 passes for 120 yards and a pair of touchdowns. The first one went to Jauan Jennings, and he followed that up with a perfect pass to the pylon to Eli Wolf on the wheel route for the final scoring strike.
TD Dormady to Jennings. pic.twitter.com/8GHsG5phQy
— Dan Harralson (@danharralson) April 22, 2017
Great throw here from Quinten Dormady finding Ethan Wolf on the wheel route pic.twitter.com/PIAU3iYHxy
— Rocky Top Insider (@rockytopinsider) April 22, 2017
It was as impressive a performance as you could want. Not only was Dormady perfect on the stat sheet, many of his passes were. As dynamic as Dobbs was with the ball in his hands throughout his career, his ball placement wasn’t always the best. On Saturday, Dormady got the ball upfield and put the ball in the ideal place for his playmakers to make the next football move.
Yes, it was only a scrimmage, but Dormady looked terrific. He even nailed the Jauan Jennings Hail Mary Challenge, which was a cool twist on the QB competition that took place, replicating the Dobbs-to-Jennings game-winning touchdown over Georgia last year.
Quinten Dormady nails the Jauan Jennings Hail Mary challenge pic.twitter.com/oBtiH0HnSa
— Rocky Top Insider (@rockytopinsider) April 22, 2017
In Guarantano’s defense, he wasn’t bad, either. Also, in an environment that was essentially two-hand touch on the quarterbacks, that’s not the best place for a runner like Guarantano to shine. His big arm was on display a couple of times, but he wasn’t as poised or confident as Dormady. To be frank, one of them looked like he’d seen game action before; the other didn’t.
Though Dormady has only gotten in games in mop-up duty so far in his career as Dobbs’ backup, game action is important. It helps once the live bullets start flying. Once he got his chance to shine in a semi-game environment as “The Man” Saturday, he looked like he could be a big deal under center for the Vols.
With new coordinator Larry Scott now at the helm of the offense, it’s going to change at least some. Alvin Kamara is gone, and Preston Williams is, too. Also, no matter who winds up starting for UT in 2017, he probably won’t be as dynamic as Dobbs. So, there’s nothing wrong with a fresh start.
Dormady may not be anywhere near the runner that Dobbs or even Guarantano are, but he isn’t immobile back there. He’s athletic, and he also possesses an NFL arm. He can make all the throws, and the South Texan didn’t hang around Knoxville to watch from the sideline for another couple of years. He believes he can be the starter, and his play backed that up. He was brilliant.
#HotTake: Quinten Dormady threw so beautifully today that God wept tears of joy all over East Tennessee.
— Wes Rucker (@wesrucker247) April 22, 2017
Listen: One half of a scrimmage [two drives] does not a season make. This competition is nowhere near over, and UT coach Butch Jones said again Saturday there is “no timetable” for naming a starter. To anoint either guy as the winner of the competition to take the season’s first snap right now would be puzzling at best and crippling at worst. What if the other guy is frustrated and transfers? What if the team saw something different and there’s a rift much the way the Rick Clausen-Erik Ainge conundrum went back in the day?
Let them battle through the offseason, through drills, through film sessions, through the weight room and into fall camp. Heck, if you think playing both of them give you the best chance to win come September, do that, too.
But for one day at least, this was Dormady’s team and Dormady’s show. The Vols have two very capable quarterbacks, and while the junior may be a smidge overlooked in this race because of all the hype surrounding Guarantano, he hasn’t let that phase him a bit. He made all the throws on Saturday, and he has the kind of arm talent that can accomplish that consistently. This type of showing can give him confidence he needs to head into the offseason believing this is his team. When that happens, it can elevate play.
Nobody is anointing Dormady a star or even the starter. That eye-bleeding O&W game format was so difficult to watch that it was mercifully over after a half. Seriously, why take the fun out of a game like that?? Oh well, that’s beside the point. While there wasn’t a whole lot to take away, Dormady’s performance was exciting. With the post-Dobbs era upon us and the worries and wondering about what the offense is going to be like now that such a play-making signal-caller is gone, there was hope in the form of Dormady’s strong arm and poise on Saturday.
It’s enough to make us all want to keep reading about this healthy competition all through the offseason.