Josh Dobbs turned in one of his best games of the season Saturday against Georgia, and it shows by his trophy case. The junior quarterback was named SEC Offensive Player of the Week and Davey O’Brien Quarterback of the Week for his 430-yard, five touchdown performance in which he ran for 118 yards and two touchdowns on 18 attempts.
Dobbs has racked up 368 yards on the ground this season, averaging 5.04 yards per carry and 61 yards a game. When he’s rushed for more than 48 yards as a starter Tennessee is 6-1, and offensive coordinator Mike DeBord has continued to get him going with his legs to keep the Vols’ offense chugging.
“We’re always trying to look for ways for him to run the football because of what he can do in his legs,” DeBord said. “We’re continuing to look for ways too.”
The first-year offensive coordinator also utilizes Dobbs’ legs to help neutralize talented defensive fronts. Rolling Dobbs out to throw and have the option of running has helped Tennessee become the No. 3 rushing team in the SEC.
“Do you want to sit in there against a great front and let them tee off or do you want to get the ball on the edge to where they’re not now a factor as much,” DeBord said. “Some of it is game plan too.”
MARTIN MOVING UP
Cornerback Justin Martin is continually growing into his role as Tennessee’s spot corner after rehabilitating from a knee injury he suffered in fall camp. Martin’s minutes have steadily increased as his knee heals, and while defensive coordinator John Jancek said he isn’t ready to start yet, his progression has been encouraging.
“That’s huge for Justin to get out there, get some fundamental work in there and go out now and make corrections with his technique and fundamentals,” Jancek said. “That’s really big for him.”
Cameron Sutton feels Martin’s practice habits make him a viable option at the other corner spot.
“I’m real comfortable because he showcases it in practice,” Sutton said of Martin. “It starts in practice and what he does throughout the course of the week, how he prepares throughout the course of the week and just his overall mindset of the game and how he approaches the game. It’s definitely going to help him out a lot throughout the course of the week.”
THREE DOWN FOR NOT
Quay Picou has been tabbed as the fifth defensive tackle in the rotation now that Shy Tuttle is gone for the season with a broken fibula and torn ligament ankle ligament. Picou is a "long ways away" according to Jancek, however, and will only be used in emergency situations.
With how depleted the defensive line rotation has been lately, it’s about the only option Tennessee can make.
“There’s really no moves that we can make at this point, other than maybe grabbing an offensive lineman, but that would be hard to do,” Jancek said. “We’ve just got to keep those guys healthy and continue to battle.”
Butch Jones mentioned the team could potentially go into more three man fronts with the absence of Tuttle, but Jancek believes that will be a tall task this late in the season with a primarily four-down mentality
“That’s really hard to do at this juncture to translate that,” Jancek said. “We do have some three down things in our system and in our package, but we’re primarily using those on third down. To go to a first or second down mentality on that would be really hard to do.”
HALL AND JONES
Freshmen Jack Jones and Chance Hall got thrown in the deep end without life jackets Saturday when they were thrust into duty after injuries to Jashon Robertson and Mack Crowder. Both players performed well in their first extended roles and, while improvement in technique is continous, DeBord was certainly happy with how they played.
“I think both guys will tell you they had some things they did well and some things they have to do better,” Jones said.”I talked to Jack yesterday and I just told him, he had improved so much on his footwork up until that game, and then in the game there were times when he was inconsistent with it a littlee bit. I told him that happens sometimes.”