KNOXVILLE — This week has been a bit of unfamiliar territory for Josh Dobbs.
Tennessee's quarterback is coming off only his second loss in seven games since taking over as the starter last season, and it's been nearly 10 months since the junior had to watch film from a defeat and dissect what he and his offense did wrong.
Dobbs didn't play well in Tennessee's double-overtime loss to Oklahoma — he completed just 13 of 31 passes for 125 yards, made a minimal impact in the running game and forced the game-ending interception — and though the outcome didn't sit well with him, he plans to learn from it.
"It was a tough loss," Dobbs told the Times Free Press earlier this week. "I feel like as an offense we still competed. Obviously, you know, there's plays we want back. Obviously there's things we felt we could have done better, but at the end of the day, we still went out there and we competed. We tried to put ourselves in some positions to win the game, which we did, but we've just got to execute and finish the game off once we get back in that situation again.
"I don't like losing. I don't like losing in anything, really. That's my competitive spirit. I hate losing. But I still see it as a learning tool. It's not all negative. There's things you can learn moving forward, which we will do and which I will do."
One thing that's become clear about Dobbs during his relatively brief stint as the guy for the Volunteers is that his demeanor doesn't change much, regardless of the situation — so it's not surprising he's taking a businesslike approach after his worst performance in terms of total offense since coming into the Alabama game midway through last season.
"He takes it hard," Tennessee wide receiver Josh Smith said. "He takes it to the heart. And I think that's huge, because he's such a perfectionist. He wants to fix the little things, and I feel like that's huge in a quarterback. He always wants to be perfect. The little things can mess you up.
"When he does something wrong, he'll let you know that."
Dobbs completed four of his final 13 passes in the game's final 25 minutes as Tennessee wound up in too many obvious passing situations and the Sooners made Dobbs uncomfortable with the variety and quantity of their blitzes.
The breakdowns in the passing game weren't all on Dobbs. Sometimes the protection disrupted the play. Perhaps his receivers didn't get open against press coverage.
Smith insisted the receiving corps didn't do its part to help its quarterback.
"I don't think it was Dobbs at all, honestly," he said. "The receivers, we take responsibility for a lot of what happened. It could be the depth of the route to mess up Dobbs. It's all about timing, and if we cut a route short, that messes up Dobbs and makes Dobbs look bad and no one says anything about the receivers.
"You can't put it all on Dobbs. There's a point where as the receivers, you've got to take responsibility we're going to get it fixed."
The questions about Dobbs' overall accuracy and his ability to throw the ball downfield surfaced again this week after the longest completions Tennessee managed against the Sooners went for 19 and 20 yards.
Southeastern Conference defenses are likely to focus on stopping Jalen Hurd, Alvin Kamara and the running game to try to force Dobbs and the Vols to beat them through the air, but Tennessee's confidence in its quarterback remains unshaken.
"I've only known him since February, but I don't how you could ever shake him," offensive coordinator Mike DeBord said. "He's as steady as anybody could ever be. He came in Sunday, stopped by, he and I talked. (He's) just a rock. He's a rock, and that's the way he goes about his life. That's the way he goes about his football. He's out there leading right now. I don't know how you can get to Josh Dobbs."
Dobbs didn't adjust his weekly approach coming off the Oklahoma loss. He took notes, as he does when he watches footage of practice and games, and there weren't more notes this week than in any other.
"I kind of look at it as, you know, as the quarterback of the team you have to have the same mindset every day," Dobbs said. "Coming in, your team has to see consistency from you. When you're winning a lot, they can't really see you too high. When you're losing — and after a loss like this — they can't see you too low.
"My goal is to come in with the same consistent mindset of where can I improve, where can I get better and where can I push the team to get better."
Contact Patrick Brown at firstname.lastname@example.org.