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Report Card: Tennessee’s 2014 Season

offensive line-1-2

 Offensive Line

Daniel: Remember that these are season grades, so some of the positive momentum from late in the season can’t override the fact that the O-line got thoroughly dominated for a lot of the season, even giving up five sacks to FCS opponent Chattanooga. This group collected multiple “F”s from me during individual game grades for its inability to protect the quarterback and create space in the run game. Missouri, Ole Miss and Florida stand out as game where the offensive line was a big liability for the Vols. But to its credit, it made improvements and, with the help of Joshua Dobbs’ mobility, the numbers got much better late in the seson. There were some good stories too – from the emergence of last-minute addition Jashon Robertson to the gutty performances by Jacob Gilliam – these guys battled all season and just came up short due to lack of experience and talent several times. Reality remains, however, that Tennessee probably wins more games in 2014 with just a decent offensive line, and this group, which returns almost everybody, will have a chance to take that step in 2015.  Grade: D+

Houston: Everyone knew when the 2013 season ended that the 2014 offensive line would be a work in progress, and that’s exactly what we saw this year. Nightmare games against Oklahoma, Florida, UTC and Ole Miss stand out among the rest as the worst of the worst, but there were few games in Tennessee’s first seven of the season in which the offensive line looked capable of taking the steps they did over the final six. Once Joshua Dobbs took the reigns at quarterback, however, the game changed for this offense – and especially this offensive line. Tennessee would average 207.5 yards rushing per game over the final six games of the season – winning four of them – and the offensive line appeared to play a much better brand of football once they realized that every mistake wasn’t going to result in a sack or a tackle for loss. They created running lanes that were nonexistent over the first half of the season and their protections improved drastically – a strong indicator that this group should be in line for a big leap in 2015 when every starter along the OL returns. What’s the old saying – it’s not how you start, but how you finish? The way this group finished the season helps this grade tremendously. Grade: C-

Reed: It should come as no surprise that the Vol offensive line ranks as our lowest graded unit this season. They were simply terrible against Florida, Oklahoma, Chattanooga, Ole Miss and Missouri. They ranked last in the SEC in sacks allowed and surrendered 12 more tackles for loss than any team in the conference. They did, for the most part, close the season strong. Joshua Dobbs’ insertion at quarterback certainly played a large role in that, but they were able to create clear running lines against Kentucky, South Carolina and Iowa. It’s also worth noting that some of their sacks early in the year were on Worley for holding the ball too long. That said – they were clearly the worst offensive line in the league by any measure. They should take a big step forward next season – they’ll have to for the Vols to meet expectations. Grade: D

Average Grade: D+

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