Scott Hall’s Take
Sloppy day for the Tennessee Volunteers in a 28-19 win over the Ohio Bobcats, moving the Vols to 3-0 on the season.
Plainly stated the kind of execution seen Saturday will not beat any of the next four opponents — Alabama, Florida, Georgia and Texas A&M — on the schedule. Defensively the Vols played well enough to preserve the victory by forcing four field goals and keeping the Bobcats out of the end zone drive after drive.
Team 120 looks vastly different than the first three versions under Butch Jones. This team is careless with the football and shows signs of being undisciplined. The Vols had four fumbles which matched the number in the opener and again were extremely lucky recovering all of them. Jalen Hurd had an undisciplined penalty in the first half along with 8 other penalties for 95 total yards.
On the first play of the fourth quarter Hurd came up big with a game-changing run of 27 yards. Without that extra effort run, the outcome of this game could have been very different. Looking solely at the stats, it appears Joshua Dobbs performed admirably as a passer, completing 19 of his 27 attempts but he missed at least four wide open wide receivers for big plays. The running game was stuffed by an inferior opponent and the offensive line continues to be a huge disappointment.
Bob Shoop continues to be the MVP of the Volunteers. No Cam Sutton, no Jalen Reeves-Maybin, no Darrin Kirkland Jr., no Malik Foreman, no Justin Martin, no LaTroy Lewis, NO DARN PROBLEM FOR BOB SHOOP. Whatever money that man is being paid it isn’t nearly enough. Tennessee very easily could be 1-2 without him.
Special Teams: C
Danny Parker’s Take
Which is it? Tennessee is finding a way to win and advancing through its schedule with a goose egg on the loss column? Or, the Volunteers are just getting lucky and playing far too much sloppy football considering the team’s experience, talent combo?
Answer: Bill Parcells: “You are what your record says you are.”
If you look through the smoke rising from the dumpsters and sift through the pile of pink slips from some Vols fans that fired Butch Jones and Mike DeBord, you’ll see that Tennessee is 3-0 and has won 9-0 straight.
That’s all in spite of sloppy football and a developing roster of injuries. Let’s take a look at who all was unavailable at some point Saturday:
NB Malik Foreman (suspended)
DE LaTroy Lewis (ankle)
LB Darrin Kirkland Jr. (ankle)
CB Justin Martin (ankle)
LB Jalen Reeves-Maybin* (shoulder)
LB Quarté Sapp (leg)
WR Josh Smith (ankle)
CB Cameron Sutton* (ankle)
* denotes Tennessee team captain
That’s the list from the key contributors. There are others that were unable to dress but are not in the two-deep. It’s a M.A.S.H. unit on The Hill. Director of sports medicine Jason McVeigh and his staff are about to get their money's worth and log some serious hours at the Anderson Training Center.
The excuses are plentiful but this is a team that must turn another corner and even a set of injuries to arguable the three most important players isn’t going to give anyone associated with Tennessee football a pass. If they fail next week, the Florida media guide will point to a winning streak reaching 12 and it will not have an asterisks next to the digit to explain how the Vols were not at full strength.
Joshua Dobbs wasn’t great against the Bobcats, but the senior also wasn’t bad. He only threw eight incomplete passes and helped the Vols get off to a much-needed fast start with a throw of quality to Josh Malone in the back of the end zone on their first series.
The three-headed backfield of Dobbs with Jalen Hurd and Alvin Kamara totaled 187 rushing yards on 40 attempts. Expected those numbers to be far better against a visiting MAC team, but they aren’t poor either.
Josh Malone (5 catches, 69 yards, 2 TDs) looks like the wide receiver he looked like he would develop into being when he started opening up eyes back in his prep days in Gallatin. He’s now up to four touchdowns in three games and never leaves the field no matter how deep the route he just ran or the scorching heat. He’s been absolutely huge for the Orange & White. Tight end Jason Croom (3 catches, 54 yards) got involved in the offense for the first time in almost two years.
Considering the woes in the secondary with the personnel missing, surrendering 230 passing yards on 46 attempts from a fifth-year senior quarterback isn’t bad. Bob Shoop and Willie Martinez rolled several players back there, mixing and matching as best they could. Three of the four leading tacklers were DBs, including Emmanuel Moseley registering eight stops. Will say that zero sacks and zero takeaways are poor numbers.
Trevor Daniel had one of his worst games statistically with 39.3 yards per punt. Aaron Medley was rushed out for a 55-yard field goal (had wind at his back) and skulled it. Evan Berry came up with a big-time kickoff return but a Gavin Bryant penalty negated that.
Special Teams: C-