Will Josh Dobbs be under center more going forward?
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Tennessee added a wrinkle in its offense during its Outback Bowl blowout of Northwestern in January.
The wrinkle worked and was certain to be in the playbook again this fall.
Offensive coordinator Mike DeBord placed quarterback Josh Dobbs under center during the 45-6 bowl game in Tampa. It was an effective look that allowed the power run game to be more of a factor.
Going under center also allows more of an ideal formation to fit running back Jalen Hurd’s stature. Even Alvin Kamara can run with power and elusiveness in the one-back set.
On Thursday night against Appalachian State, the Vols placed Dobbs under center six times. Each time, the Vols ran the ball effectively, gaining 34 yards.
The question now is whether Tennessee will use Dobbs more under center going forward. The Vols did not use the formation in the second half against Appalachian State, possibly due to playing from behind and needing quick points to overcome an unexpected 13-3 deficit.
Butch Jones met with the media Monday and offered his thoughts on the comeback win.
“We’re still building our identity but I thought there was a lot of things to really build upon from the game Thursday night,” he said. “We watched the video and at the end of the game we found a way to win a football game. To me that talks about perseverance, resiliency, and finding a way to win football games.
“We talked about that. That’s been a topic of conversation and we were able to do that, but I think we all know that we have to continue to move forward and make great, great, significant progress from Week 1 to Week 2 and we’re going to be challenged with a very, very good opponent Saturday night.”
The resiliency and perseverance could be a byproduct of Tennessee’s offensive approach changing in the second half. The Vols still were playing catch-up due to mistakes.
The running game totaled 127 yards, but was not effective inside the red zone. The Vols had two chances inside the red zone in regulation, and settled for field goals.
“We ran for about 130 yards, so we were doing some good things,” Dobbs said. “Anytime you run over 100 yards, it’s a productive day on the ground. Now, it’s about finishing drives in the red zone, and taking advantage.
“If you look back on it, during the second and third quarter they had the ball the whole time. We had three or four drives in two quarters. That was the situation I was given, and I had to take advantage of each opportunity I had the ball, and keep myself in good situations, and move the ball down the field effectively.”
Better situations can create better outcomes for Tennessee going forward. The more efficient the Volunteer offense is, the more Dobbs under center could take place to strengthen the ground game.
Times under center vs. Appalachian State
2nd-and-10 at ASU 22 (1st quarter, 7:59): Jalen Hurd 13-yard run for a first down
1st-and-goal at ASU 9 (1st quarter, 7:37): Jalen Hurd 3-yard run
1st-and-10 at UT 25 (2nd quarter, 8:53): Jalen Hurd 8-yard run
2nd-and-2 at UT 33 (2nd quarter, 8:19): Jalen Hurd 5-yard run
2nd-and-8 at UT 40 (2nd quarter, 7:37): Alvin Kamara 5-yard run
2nd-and-11 at UT 48 (2nd quarter, 6:15): Jalen Hurd run for no gain