After a 63-37 throttling of Missouri, captains Josh Dobbs and Cam Sutton looked back on their last game at Neyland Stadium.
Sutton had just played in his second game after coming back from an ankle injury, which he sustained against Ohio.
“Just the opportunity to be out there is something that I don’t take for granted,” Sutton said after Saturday’s game. “Everyone just kept encouraging me and helped me through that [rehab] process I was going through to come back with my boys.”
Sutton said he struggled during his long injury absence.
“It’s a blessing, just battling through that,” Sutton said. “I just had the same mentality and same focus each and every day, regardless of my situation. I still have a lot of guys that look up to me, feed off me. There were times when I was down, times where I wanted to be out there, but I couldn’t show that.”
One of those players who looked up to Sutton was linebacker Cortez McDowell. McDowell, a junior, said the influence from the seniors on defense was invaluable.
“I looked at them as my older brothers,” McDowell said. “They helped me and my class grow and develop and bring this program back to where it belongs.”
Dobbs, who ran for 193 yards on ten carries and threw for 223 yards and three touchdowns, said he had his same “business as usual” approach he always had.
“I don’t think there’s really any extra incentive,” Dobbs said. “Every single game, my approach, I’m going to play hard and do things I need to do to put this team in a position to win.”
Dobbs’ first career start for Tennessee came against Missouri in 2013. The Vols lost 31-3.
“I’ve definitely grown a lot since that start, for sure,” Dobbs said.
The senior quarterback and team captain has had the admiration of his teammates since he took the starting job.
“Dobbs is a genius,” sophomore running back John Kelly said with a smile. “That’s really what it is. He’s a really smart guy. Honestly, him just as a leader is really impactful for everybody that’s under him. I’m really happy to have Dobbs in my life at this point.”