1. Joshua Dobbs Takes the Reins as Quarterback: Dobbs made his first collegiate debut during the third drive of the Volunteers' ninth week battle against Alabama. The quarterback went 4-1 in his next five appearances as the team’s starting quarterback. Dobbs provided the Tennessee offense with a much needed spark after it struggled with early SEC losses. Tennessee averaged thirty-seven points per game during its final five games. This was an impressive thirteen-point improvement from its first eight. The sophomore quarterback recorded 1,206 passing yards, nine touchdowns, six interceptions, 63.3 completion percentage, 587 rushing yards, and 104 attempts during six appearances.
2. Victorious in TaxSlayer Bowl: Tennessee made its first bowl appearance since 2010 during the 2015 TaxSlayer Bowl against Iowa. The Volunteers dominated the Hawkeyes, 45-28, in what was the team’s first bowl win since the 2008 Outback Bowl. Jalen Hurd recorded 122 yards and two touchdowns on sixteen carries. Tennessee was one of the SEC’s most impressive bowl teams and enters the 2015 season with momentum after finishing with a winning record.
3. Comeback to Rout South Carolina: Dobbs solidified his place as Tennessee’s starting quarterback after his historic performance against South Carolina. The sophomore became the first player in school history to record more than three hundred passing yards and one hundred rushing yards. The Volunteers trailed 42-28 with 4:52 remaining in the game before whistling back to score an amazing seventeen unanswered points. The victory marked Tennessee’s first of three SEC victories of 2014 and the begging of its rally to secure a postseason berth.
4. Blowing out the Wildcats: Coming off a bye week that followed the win against South Carolina in Columbia, the Vols saw their most dominant SEC performance of the season with a 50-16 victory against Kentucky in Week 12. Dobbs threw for 297 yards and three touchdowns, while also rushing for forty-eight yards and one touchdown. Hurd rushed for 118 yards and a touchdown on 24 carries, while the Tennessee defense forced two interceptions.
5. Earning a Bowl Appearance (Winning is a plus as well!): The Vols ended their bowl drought by defeating arch-rival Vanderbilt in the final week of the regular season. The win wasn’t a pretty affair by any stretch of the imagination, but was enough for Tennessee to achieve its season-long goal of securing a postseason berth. Butch Jones provided credibility to his “brick by brick” rebuilding promise with a two-win improvement in 2014.