Tennessee's young squad ready to face Hawkeyes in TaxSlayer Bowl - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Tennessee's young squad ready to face Hawkeyes in TaxSlayer Bowl

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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (KWWL) -

In Jacksonville, Florida, it's the night before the big TaxSlayer Bowl showdown between the Iowa Hawkeyes and Tennessee Volunteers.

The Volunteers are a very young team that grew up just in time for this bowl opportunity.

Eight games into the 2014 season, Tennessee was just 3-5 -- and without their senior starting quarterback Justin Worley, who suffered a season-ending injury.

The Volunteers' fate changed dramatically when third-string quarterback Joshua Dobbs was inserted into the starting lineup. The sophomore Dobbs, with his ability to run and pass, led Tennessee to three victories in its final four games and a berth in the TaxSlayer Bowl.

Vols head coach Butch Jones says Dobbs was ready.

"The thing about Josh, he is very, very competitive and very cerebral," Jones said. "He wasn't playing early, but he gained some valuable repetitions last year as being the starting quarterback at Tennessee and understanding all of the dynamics with being the quarterback at Tennessee."

Dobbs is definitely a symbol of the growth of the Volunteer football team over the last month of the season. Since being tossed into the fire as a true freshman, Dobbs has taken the role of leading his team more seriously in his second tour of duty as a sophomore.

"I do feel it's more my offense this year," Dobbs said. "Last year, I came on late in the season, but all throughout last season and this season I've been a constant leader. I've been on the players' staff both seasons and I've done a great job of leading my teammates and I need to continue to do that. Obviously, as a starting quarterback, you have more say behind your words."

And words also have power when the quarterback is playing well. Dobbs finished with nearly 400 yards rushing and almost 1,100 yards passing along with accounting for 14 touchdowns in just four starts.

The Hawkeye defense will face a strong challenge slowing Dobbs down on Friday.

The Hawkeyes and Volunteers kick it off Friday afternoon at 2:20 p.m.

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