Tennessee’s offense has been sluggish in its last six quarters of play. In the second half against South Carolina, the Volunteers rushed for only 15 yards and scored only 10 points. Then last week against North Texas, Tennessee’s offense mustered only 17 points through the first three quarters against a defense that had been allowing 45.6 points per game.

A lack of consistency has plagued Tennessee’s offense this season.

Here are two reasons why Tennessee has struggled to sustain drives recently:


In the final two quarters against South Carolina, Tennessee had to gain 6 or more yards nine times on third down in order to keep the chains moving. The Vols only had one third down that was less than six yards in the second half.

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The next week, on possessions when QB Joshua Dobbs was leading Tennessee’s offense against North Texas, the Vols had to gain 6 yards or more six times on third down and were forced to throw. The defense, expecting a pass, was able to use blitz packages to force mistakes or drop more men into coverage. Put simply, it’s tough for Tennessee’s offense to maintain drives when its offense has to gain six or more yards on the majority of its third-down plays.


The importance of Dobbs’ running ability goes beyond putting his team in position to move the chains. It opens up everything for Tennessee’s offense. In games where Tennessee has had success moving the football — against Bowling Green, Florida, Georgia and Kentucky — Dobbs has rushed for 89, 136, 118 and 51 yards, respectively.

In the second half against South Carolina, Dobbs had five carries for 17 yards, not including sacks. A week later against North Texas, Dobbs had four carries for three yards.  Tennessee’s offense relies on Dobbs’ ability to run with the football. When Dobbs finds success on the ground, it not only opens things up for Tennessee’s running backs, but it also allows Tennessee to call play-action pass plays and receivers to get open.

Dobbs may have reduced his running due to injury. But Tennessee offensive coordinator Mike DeBord said Dobbs is healthy again and ready for Saturday’s challenge against a stingy Missouri defense:

That’s good news for the Vols. If Tennessee plans on overcoming its recent offensive struggles, Dobbs is going to have to be an integral part of Tennessee’s rushing attack.