The Monday Mailbag

You know the drill. You ask 'em, we answer 'em, everyone smiles and nods their head.

What will it take to get Quinten Dormady on the field to see if the passing game will open up? — ACGVol

Coming right out of the gate with a hot take! I expect nothing less after yet another debilitating loss by Tennessee to Florida, but let’s pump the breaks here for a second. There’s absolutely no way Dormady should be playing right now for a number of reasons. First and foremost, the passing game woes can’t be attributed solely on Dobbs. The Vols have struggled to throw the ball this season, as evidenced by just 83 passing yards against the Gators’ extremely good secondary, but it starts at the offensive line and branches out. The O-line has experienced trouble pass blocking, specifically the right side, and the receivers have struggled to get open at times on passing downs. Dobbs shoulders some of the blame as a quarterback for sure, but as Butch Jones likes to point out when asked about this, it takes all 11 guys on the offense to throw the ball successfully.

And let’s not forget the added dimension on the ground Dobbs brings to the run game. Tennessee’s QB led the team in rushing yards Saturday despite Jalen Hurd racking up 102 himself. Take away that dynamic from the offense and insert a freshman pocket passer in his first extensive playing time and I maintain it’s a much different outlook Saturday afternoon. Dobbs is the guy right now, and it’s unfair to pin the passing game’s woes on him. He’s in no way blameless, but the players around him and the offense’s identity as a run-first scheme also play a big part in why Tennessee hasn’t been able to find much success in the air this season.

How would you like to see Tennessee work in the passing game without disrupting the rushing attack and overall flow of the offense? — andy112382

DISCLAIMER: I am dumb. Like really dumb. Nobody should ever listen to me when it comes to football. With that said, here’s what I would do! The key to me is working the middle of the field, which has been done successfully when Butch Jones and his staff choose to do so. The Western Carolina game was a perfect example of how to get Josh Dobbs’ confidence up by mixing in some high percentage throws with a couple of shots down the field to keep defenses honest. The intermediate routes over the middle sprinkled in with a massive dose of Jalen Hurd and company would do the offense some good, which is easy for me to say as I spill Flaming Hot Cheetos into my belly button.

Injury status and report after the Florida game? — Mulley

The biggest question mark leaving Florida was the health of cornerback Cam Sutton, who was seen after the game with an ice pack on his face. Butch Jones said Monday Sutton does not have a broken jaw and is expected to be ready to play Saturday against Arkansas. Wide receiver Pig Howard was called “day-to-day” while he nurses an ankle injury, while fellow receiver Johnathon Johnson dealt with a hamstring injury Saturday that deemed him only available in an emergency situation.

Vols are ranked 13th in the country in third down conversion defense at 26 percent. What's the struggle on 4th down? — volsbc

Jones didn’t have a definitive answer for why Tennessee has struggled so much on fourth down. But since we’re all about giving you what you want to know (and lazy), here’s Jones’ explanation for why his team struggled so much on fourth down Saturday and what problems the defense have faced in do-or-die situations.

"I think it is a combination of each fourth down play having a story of its own,” Jones said. “There was one play where they threw the ball to the tight end, and our players were in the perfect coverage and our defender is right there. It's a quarterback throwing the ball on his back leg and a player making a great play on the ball in the air, and you couldn't defend it any better. To our player's credit, he was right where he needed to be. They just made a play. On the fourth and long, we were supposed to be robbing the dig area, and we looked the wrong way -- the eye discipline that we talk about -- and they were able to capitalize on that. The completion is made, we need to rally and get the ball down and force them, i believe, 20 yards to go. I think it was a combination of little things: eye discipline, understanding the situation, what they are going to run. That's the thing; we did such a great job to generate those fourth down plays. We did a great job on third down, now we need to capitalize from what we did on third down to fourth down, and we will continue to work on that."


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