Rocky Topics: Can Josh Dobbs win the Heisman?

Sports editors Cody McClure and Nathan Odom debate whether Josh Dobbs can win the Heisman Trophy in the 2016 football season.

Tennessee quarterback Joshua Dobbs takes a "selfie" with fans after the Vols' Outback Bowl win over Northwestern. Photo by Jordan Dajani.

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This week on Rocky Topics, sports editors Cody McClure and Nathan Odom debate whether Tennessee quarterback Josh Dobbs has Heisman Trophy potential.

McClure: Of course Dobbs can win the Heisman. Tennessee’s offense has the potential to reach historic production levels in 2016. Over the past two seasons, Dobbs has shown the ability to run the football. His throwing needs to improve. That much is obvious. But go look at the Heisman winners from this decade. With the exception of Derrick Henry, every winner of college football’s most prestigious award has been a quarterback with an ability to run; Cam Newton, Robert Griffin III, Johnny Manziel, Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota. Sure, most of those guys were passers first, but each had some ability to evade defenders. If Dobbs improves his downfield throwing in the offseason, his legs could earn him a trip to New York.

Odom: Cody, you’re giving Dobbs too much credit for what a quarterback is supposed to do: throw the ball. He completed just under 60 percent of his passes in the 2015 season and failed to show improvement in his ability to throw an accurate downfield pass. Dobbs completed 65 percent or more of his passes in just two games this season — against Bowling Green and Western Carolina. Sure, he was good enough. But Heisman material? No way. He can’t throw the ball further than 20 yards against a decent defense.

McClure: The completion numbers are deceiving. Newton and Winston both won the Heisman with roughly 66 percent completion rates. And Dobbs was at around 60 percent last season. Let’s put this into perspective. Assuming he throws 300 passes this season, he needs to complete 180 to maintain his 60 percent completion rate. Even if his mechanics don’t improve in the offseason, 200 completions would equal 66 percent — the same as Newton and Winston. Is there really a big difference between 180 and 200? That’s 20 passes in the span of an entire season. Maybe the receivers drop fewer balls this year. Maybe the offensive line improves on pass blocking. Maybe the defensive focus on the run game allows Dobbs to have more openings through the air. The point is, 60 percent and 66 percent aren’t that different. Before letting you finish the argument, I must also point out the obvious in this discussion. Dobbs’ Heisman chances will be significantly improved if Tennessee has a 10-win season.

Odom: Is there a big difference between 180 and 200? Let’s put this into perspective, since you seem so keen on doing so. Tennessee had four losses in the 2015 season. If we take those 20 incomplete passes, turn them into completions, then spread them out amongst the Vols’ games, each game gets roughly two more completions. In the Florida game, that’s a completed touchdown pass instead of a field goal. That score was the difference between 28-27 and an impossible three-score comeback from Florida. I could go on with the other games, but you see my point. I will assume Dobbs’ passing ability will improve. Still, though, will he have the numbers to beat out guys like Christian McCaffrey or Leonard Fournette for college football’s most prestigious award? His playmaking ability separates him from other average passing quarterbacks, but that won’t be enough to win a Heisman Trophy.

Featured image by Jordan Dajani

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Nathan is a junior at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville. He spends most of his free time eating meaningless foods and watching sports. If you wish to contact Nathan, you can email him at wodom3@vols.utk.edu or find him on Twitter, @NathanOdom11.

2 thoughts on “Rocky Topics: Can Josh Dobbs win the Heisman?

  1. Dobbs can win the Heisman given his ability to run while also witnessing his strides as a passer, BUT Tennessee will not allow him to have a chance because Jalen Hurd and Alvin Kamara will take away Dobbs’ opportunities to put up huge rushing stats and I don’t see his passing abilities improving enough to put him on the passing level that Newton, Manziel, Winston, and Mariota were in their Heisman seasons.

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