You’ve probably heard the idea that Joshua Dobbs helps the running game thrown out at some point this week or even about the potential of that earlier in the season.
What exactly does it mean?
For one, he is a threat to run himself. Dobbs netted 75 rushing yards against Alabama, one of the top run defenses in the nation. He actually had 100 yards, though 25 were reduced through losses. That gives the Vols another ball carrier on the field and, when he runs, they have an extra blocker as well. That’s something the defense must plan for.
But perhaps just as important is how he takes defenders eyes off of other playmakers. That opened up the rest of the run game. Against an Alabama defense that came into the game giving up an average of just 64 rushing yards per game, the Vols were able to pile up just over 180 yards on the ground for one of their best performances of the season. It was no coincidence that it coincided with Dobbs’ appearance in the game.
Here’s a great example of what he does for the running backs:
On this key 44-yard run by Marlin Lane that set up Tennessee’s first touchdown and, in many ways, started the comeback, Dobbs makes a play despite not doing really anything at all. Notice the Alabama defensive end. His shoulders are square to the line as he respects the possibility that Dobbs might keep this handoff instead of giving it to Lane.
We know Lane isn’t a speed demon himself. He ended up getting tracked down by a 270-pound linebacker before he reached the end zone. But the honesty that the defensive end showed gave Lane just enough room to make it to the corner:
Throw in a couple key blocks on the perimeter, which UT did a good job on as well against Alabama, and Lane has a huge play. Note Dobbs carrying out his fake in the above picture. Again, he helped Tennessee make a play without really doing much of anything. Alabama had to show him some respect.
“Dobbs did a great job of giving the whole offense a different look,” running back Jalen Hurd said. “He did a great job of running and that opened things up for me.”
The Vols will have a different set of challenges this week now that South Carolina has had a week to prepare for Dobbs and some of the things he does to help the run game. But with South Carolina also having the worst rushing defense in the SEC, expect Dobbs to help the Vols put up some more impressive numbers on the ground on Saturday.