Does Joshua Dobbs need to be the East's best QB for Vols to win division in 2016?
When the members of Tennessee’s offensive coaching staff decided to start Joshua Dobbs in every game this season, they understood that they would have to build a game plan that accentuated his strengths and covered up his weaknesses.
They knew that he would struggle with his accuracy, but they also knew that he displayed a rare combination of speed, elusiveness and power when he ran the ball.
Ultimately, Dobbs struggled to make plays in the passing game, but his ability to run the ball helped Tennessee win eight regular-season games — its best win total since 2007.
But will Tennessee be able to win the SEC East Division next season if Dobbs doesn’t throw the ball more accurately?
When Dobbs throws accurate passes down the field, Tennessee’s offense is explosive. In Dobbs’ two best passing performances against Georgia and South Carolina — he threw for 567 yards and five touchdowns with only two interceptions — Tennessee’s offense scored 65 points and amassed 927 total yards.
But when Dobbs struggled to throw the ball, Tennessee’s offense looks like its stuck in the mud. Against a North Texas defense that had been allowing 45.6 points per game coming into its contest with Tennessee, the Volunteers mustered just 17 points through the first three quarters, and Dobbs had a particularly rough game — throwing for only 136 yards with one interception. Dobbs also had a similarly rough game against Missouri — throwing for just 89 yards — and Tennessee’s offense only scored 19 points.
However, Dobbs has shown that he has the ability to contribute to victories running the ball even if he struggles to throw the ball accurately.
Against Florida — in a game that Tennessee had plenty of chances to win — Dobbs threw for only 83 yards but rushed for 136 yards, and his ability to escape from the pocket opened up running lanes for RB Jalen Hurd — who rushed 102 yards against Florida.
Also, in a dominating 53-28 win over Vanderbilt, Tennessee rushed for 331 yards, including 93 from Dobbs on 11 carries.
Dobbs doesn’t always have to throw the ball well for Tennessee to win. But in 2016, he needs to be the best offensive playmaker on the field if the Vols want to accomplish their goal of winning the East.