Sometimes one man can be enough if that one man plays quarterback. That's why UAB has at least a puncher's chance in today's 12:30 kickoff at Neyland Stadium. Joe Webb is only one man but he's a very versatile man who happens to be the Blazers' quarterback.
The 6-4, 220-pound junior rushed for 136 yards on just 18 attempts (7.55 per carry) in UAB's season-opening loss to Tulsa. He added 66 yards last Saturday vs. Florida Atlantic, and is averaging 101 rushing yards per game thus far.
Webb can throw a bit, too, as he showed by completing 26 of 48 passes for 326 yards last weekend vs. Florida Atlantic. He's averaging 247.5 passing yards per game thus far in 2008, with 4 touchdown passes and just 1 interception.
Here's another stat worth pondering: Through two games Webb is averaging 348.5 yards of total offense per game. Florida's Tebow is averaging 242.5.
Clearly, Webb can give Tennessee some headaches this afternoon at Neyland Stadium. The fact is, he already has given Vol defensive coordinator John Chavis some headaches this week.
"They play an offense (spread) that a lot of teams are using now, and the quarterback makes it go," Chavis said. "He's an exceptional athlete. I'd heard a lot about his running ability, and you can see that on film. And he does a lot better job throwing the ball than I wanted him to."
Like Cutler and Tebow, Webb's running ability makes him just as dangerous when he's flushed from the pocket as he is when he can stand in the pocket and throw. That's why Tennessee's defensive ends must concentrate on keeping him contained.
"We have to be very disciplined in our rush lanes because if we give him one little crease he's going to be off to the races," Vol end Chris Walker said this week. "He's a very good quarterback, very athletic, and he moves around well."
Tennessee's best bet to stop Webb is to pressure him from the opening snap to the final snap. The Vol front four couldn't sack UCLA's Kevin Craft in Game 1, however, and Craft isn't nearly as mobile as Webb. Even without recording any sacks, though, Tennessee's front four adversely affected UCLA's passing attack.
"We had great pressure, especially in the first half," Vol defensive ends coach Steve Caldwell noted. "I told my guys to just look at the four picks (in the first half) and how many times the quarterback had tackles and guards laying around his feet. It was hard for him to plant his feet and throw the thing.
"That's what you've got to have. You're not going to always get the sack but as long as you get pressure we're going to be happy."
With more and more teams relying on the three-step drop, quarterbacks are getting rid of the ball quicker than in years past. That's why sack totals are down nation-wide.
"In this day and time you're not going to have the number of sacks you used to," Caldwell said. "The key today is you've got to make that quarterback move around. You can't let him just sit there."
That's especially true when you're facing a guy like Joe Webb.