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Insider Mailing: Bye-Week Extravaganza

Joshua Dobbs-1-3

“If Josh Dobbs pulled a Grier, would you defend him, or would you know better?” – Tony Geist

Daniel: I would only defend him if there was a reason to. If he clearly took a banned substance, he, like any other college football player in the nation should sit a year as the rulebook says.

Houston: PED’s are serious business, and the rules are clearly defined. It’s one thing if a kid smokes marijuana or drinks a lot in his free time (stupid, but not one-year ban-worthy), but using any illegal substance that can improve your performance – especially by making you bigger/stronger/faster – well, that crosses the line and deserves a much harsher brand of punishment. SEC nutrition programs are among the best out there, and to think that these players don’t get everything they need to gain speed/strength the right way is foolish.

Will Grier knew EXACTLY what he was doing and got caught. Now, the focus shifts to…was he alone, and did Florida staff members know?

“Chances Steve Spurrier ends up as UT’s OC? (Please?)” – Jake Tidwell 

Daniel: That would be something, wouldn’t it? I’m going to say something in the range of 0-1%. I guess UT’s last offensive coordinator was kind of hired out of semi-retirement, so I guess you can never say never.

Houston: A man can dream…But, sadly, I think that’s all this is. A dream.

“Assuming Florida is ineligible. Can TN win the east?” – Corey Jeffreys 

Daniel: There’s no reason at this point to think that Florida will be ineligible, but in a hypothetical scenario where they are, I think UT would certainly have a shot in the East. The Vols would just need to take care of business after Alabama, and if they did that, I think, assuming Georgia drops at least one more in the SEC, then it would be Tennessee in Atlanta

Houston: I like this game of hypotheticals. The answer is yes…but until Florida is ruled ineligible or until they drop three games, it’s still hard to see them as anything other than the favorite for the SEC East.

John: Is that what it’s come to? Hoping to win the East because someone else was disqualified? I’ve seen a few people posting about Florida’s potential ineligibility and how that might bode well for UT, and I can’t even go there. I get why it would make some people excited, but it just depresses me. I wanna win the east. Not get it handed to me because some kid went on a GNC bender.

“Would you rather have Chance Hall and Jack Jones against BAMA or Brett Kendrick and J-Rob? Given they’re all healthy.” – Payton Price 

Daniel: That’s going to be an interesting decision for the coaching staff in the coming week. I have a hard time seeing Jashon Robertson getting pulled from the lineup in any scenario where he’s healthy. I think the true competition would be at right tackle between Kendrick and Hall. I’d say make that a truly open spot, split reps and let the best man in practice play in Tuscaloosa. This is the type of “tough” decision that coaching staffs enjoy making.

Houston: I’m with DL. If Robertson is healthy, then he plays…simple as that. Could you do some more shuffling to get JJ in there with him? Sure, but I don’t know that they would risk shaking things up that much. Hall is going to be a beast, and Georgia’s DL is good, but they aren’t Alabama. I think Hall’s ceiling is very, very high, but I just don’t know if it’s fair to expect him to be the best option at right tackle against – arguably – the best defensive front seven in football. That said, the bye-week will give him an opportunity to be as prepared as possible for this game, so there’s a shot.

“While being off this week, what will the Vols bring to Alabama as they have 2 weeks to prepare?” – Miles Hall

Daniel: I don’t think it’ll be anything too crazy. They’ve been close in every game and showed that they can finish against Georgia, so, sure, take some extra time to prep a few specific plays and concepts, maybe throw another trick or two in the bag, but I think the biggest focus just needs to be on sharpening up some fundamentals (especially tackling) over the bye, and get some rest, get some guys healthier and keep developing the younger guys.

If they were 2-4 with several blowout losses, I’d say blow it up a bit over the bye week and try something different, but I’ve seen enough of this team to say that it can compete with anybody if they do what they’ve been doing, and I think they can beat anybody if they coach and execute a bit better too.

Houston: I’d think a couple wrinkles will be installed…maybe a little more with the wildcat package with Jennings and/or Hurd, maybe a few more deep routes and concepts to get the downfield passing game going. I’d expect Tennessee to roll Joshua Dobbs out a few times against Alabama, so look for them to tweak that in order to give Alabama something different than what they’ve seen on film.

Tennessee won’t come out running the triple option, but they’ll have a few new items.

John: I’m hoping it’s a can of Whoop Ass. And I actually have a good feeling about the game. Not that the Vols will win, necessarily — they might — but I’m virtually certain they’ll be competitive. One of my “bold predictions” before the season started was that UT would hold a second-half lead in T-town. I still believe that because of another thing I’ve believed for a while: this staff and its team are way more comfortable as underdogs as opposed to favorites.

“Why do we not have a jumbo goal line set?  Why? WHY???” – @RockyTop10EC 

Daniel: Good question. I think Jones just doesn’t want to completely change what UT does when they get inside the 5. I see the logic, but it would be nice to have a really tight jumbo goal-line set where Dobbs goes under center when they get really close.

Houston: They do…they ran it against Bowling Green – for a touchdown – and it has never been seen again. I have no idea why they refuse to go to it when they need a yard.

John: Amen to this question. I respect the concept of wanting to run your offense consistently and not abandon it based on field position. But I miss power football, man. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t. And I really miss it inside the 5.

“Did the Georgia game and atmosphere sway any of the visiting recruits towards TN?” – Corey Jeffreys

Daniel: A lot of good comments came out from the recruits in attendance with guys saying things like it was the loudest they’ve ever heard a stadium. I think UT certainly helped its cause with several guys, but it’s hard to say at this point if that will lead to them landing any that were in attendance. But to beat Georgia, a team that many in attendance at the game are strongly considering, and to get better production from the wide receivers with Kyle Davis, Mecole Hardman, etc. in attendance was about best-case scenario for recruiting over the weekend.

“You are allowed to say only one thing to this team and coaching staff at this time in the season. What do you tell them?” – Thomas Davis 

Daniel: In general, I’d say just don’t play scared. They’ve proven time and time again that they can play with just about anybody. It only seems to be when they have a lead that they shrink up a bit and get worried about hanging on. Play and coach every snap like you’re down 24-3 until the other team mathematically can’t catch up to you.

Houston: The desire to win has to be stronger than the fear of losing. There is no room for fear in the SEC.

John: Charts, checklists, game analytics can be good things, indeed. But you gotta know when to leave the lab and get out the canvass. Because y’all have science-part of football covered, but you’re lacking the art part.

“If Dobbs has similar game against Bama, do we win?” – Jake Woods 

Daniel: I think UT is certainly in it if he does. He had more total yards on Saturday against Georgia than Ole Miss QB Chad Kelly did when Ole Miss beat ‘Bama, so if he puts those numbers up, UT should at least be in it late.

Houston: Yes. No qualifiers, no maybes. If he has another 300/100 game with 5 touchdowns, then the Vols are beating Alabama.

John: I’m with Houston. If Dobbs finds that kind of balance, it means Hurd will be able to do Hurd-like things, which begets even more balance. 300/100? Orange with the W. Mark it down and circle it.

“Why hasn’t anybody talked about the Von catch on 4th down? Really had to adjust to a not so good pass after slipping. … That being said are the WRs finally back to what people have expected?” – Tyler Dockery 

Daniel: Great point. The Evan Berry kickoff return to midfield and then that catch that you referenced were both overlooked as UT started its comeback. Without those two plays, UT may have headed to halftime down 24-3.

I think that was a great step for the WRs, but I’m not ready to say they’re back to expectation levels yet. Need to see it on a bit more of a consistent basis. They should be healthier after the bye, so we’ll find out a lot more about that group in the second half of the season, though Saturday was a much-needed boost.

“Can we expect to see more motion before the snap on offense? Moving @A_kamara6 (Alvin Kamara) around and confusing defenses?” – Corey Jeffreys 

Daniel: I think so. That led to two touchdowns on Saturday with both of his catches coming off of motion. I also like it when they go five wide, with Kamara split out, and then bring him into motion and hand it to him on a jet-sweep type of play. His numbers aren’t massive, but he’s emerged as a nice complimentary threat this year and UT would be wise to use him in as many ways going forward as possible.

Houston: They need to. It allows them to put themselves in favorable matchups while also forcing the defense to tip their hand as to whether they are in man or zone coverage. I think, THINK, that maybe, MAYBE, DeBord figured some things out about his team on Saturday. Here’s hoping it proves true over the next six games.

“Does Dillon Bates still play collegiate American football?” – @Chuck_Des

Daniel: I can confirm that he does. He’s a redshirt freshman, he’ll continue to get better, but I understand the confusion and frustration as to why he’s not playing more since he actually played more last year before his injury than he is this year.

John: Who?

“Where does Georgia’s dropped TD pass rank on all time game changers by a UT opponent (Stoerner is of course #1)?” – Doug Brooks 

Daniel: That’s a great question and something I’ve been thinking about since Saturday. It seems like it usually goes the other way around. I can’t think of a ton, but I think the personal foul on Dallas Baker in 2004 has to be up there (how that wasn’t an offsetting penalty though, I’ll never know). Obviously the Stoerner fumble is No. 1, as you said. But to answer your question specifically, the Reggie Davis drop on Saturday might be top five at least in recent history. If UT loses that game, as the Vols very well might have if he catches that, the entire trajectory of the season, and maybe the tenure of this coaching staff, changes.

“On Saturday of bye week, watch all the games or get away from football that day?”– Russell Walker

Daniel: I’m pro-football in almost every case. You only get 13 complete college football weekends, and this is one of the best ones, especially within the SEC (A&M vs. Bama; LSU vs. Florida). Yard work, getaways, errands, chores and all that stuff will still be there in the spring.

Houston: Both. I’m playing a golf tournament in the morning, but then I’m making sure to watch the second half of Bama @ A&M and all of UF @ LSU.

John: My answer is watching my daughter play in a soccer tournament in Bumblef*ck. Hooray.

“How many shots will Lane Kiffin take deep with Calvin Ridley after seeing the film vs Ga?  What are %s Ridley drops one?” – Keith Rouse

Daniel: I have a feeling Calvin Ridley could end being named an honorary “Cooper” in the next few years. He’s really good and Kiffin and Alabama will test UT’s secondary early and often next week.

Houston: They’ll look for him off of play-action often, but Coker has been erratic on deep passes all season long. Tennessee will have some opportunities to intercept him next Saturday if the defensive line can get any type of consistent pressure.

“How much did Dobbs freelance last week?” – Sean Walsh 

Daniel: That’s difficult to say without knowing all the calls and such. I saw at least a few plays on film where he made some reads, nothing was there and he used his feet to make a play. I think he has some flexibility to change things up and get UT in a better play/blocking situation, but I also think, for the most part, he runs the called plays and then has keys during the play to read off of.

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