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Tennessee's Rushing Offense Is The Best In A Decade

Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

A Dominant Rushing Attack Against Missouri

Tennessee sophomore running back Jalen Hurd broke 1,000 rushing yards for the season, grinding out 151 yards on 34 carries against a tough Missouri defense. Quarterback Josh Dobbs added to the effort with 54 yards on 10 carries and lightning fast backup running back Alvin Kamara raced to 73 yards on 7 carries. In total, the Vols racked up 248 yards on the ground in Columbia-- by far the most gained against Missouri's stellar run defense all season. Tennessee's big day running the football pushed the Vols to 2,351 rushing yards for the season-- the most rushing yards in a season since Gerald Riggs, Jr. and Cedric Houston tag-teamed their way to 2,418 yards in 2004.

Tennessee Team Rushing Yards
Year Games Played
Team Rushing Yards Leading Rusher Leader Yards Team Yards Per Carry
2015 11 2351 Jalen Hurd 1,038 4.59
2004 13 2418 Gerald Riggs, Jr. 1,107 4.7
2013 12 2261 Rajion Neal 1,163 4.9

Rushing Records Within Reach

Here's the thing about that 2004 Tennessee squad-- they amassed those rushing yards over 13 games, including the SEC Championship Game. While we'd all prefer that this year's Vols had a date in the Georgia Dome after this weekend's game against Vanderbilt, Tennessee still has a chance to do something remarkable-- finish with more rushing yards than the 2004 SEC East Champions. The Vols need 68 team rushing yards against the Commodores to pass the 2004 team for the most rushing yards since 2001 (UT Sports only has online records going back to the 2001-2002 team-- if anyone has a print media guide with more information, update in the comments).

In addition, a strong performance by Jalen Hurd in the regular season finale could place him on the list of best single season rushing performances. With a game to go, Hurd has 234 rushes for 1,038 yards-- within striking distance of both Arian Foster (1,193 yards-- 10th place) and Reggie Cobb (1,197 yards-- 9th place) on the all time list. After leaving last year's Vanderbilt game with an early injury, a motivated and angry Hurd would need 156 yards on the ground to pass Foster, and a mere four yards more (160) to pass Reggie Cobb.

Tennessee Single Season Rushing Yards
Rank Player Yards Year
1 Travis Stephens 1,464 2001
2 Jay Graham 1,438 1995
3 Jamal Lewis 1,364 1997
4 Montario Hardesty 1,345 2009
5 Travis Henry 1,314 2000
6 Johnnie Jones 1,290 1984
7 Tony Thompson 1,261 1990
8 Chuck Webb 1,236 1989
9 Reggie Cobb 1,197 1987
10 Arian Foster 1,193 2007
NR Jalen Hurd 1.038 2015

A Full Season of Dobbs Takes Aim at Records

While Jalen Hurd has a shot at a place among the single reason rushing leaders, Tennessee's offense is still largely a product of quarterback Josh Dobbs-- as he goes, so goes the rest of the team. As the offensive line and skill position talent has improved around Dobbs, he's had more success, but overall, he's still the same player as last year-- similar completion percentage (59% in 2015, 63% in 2014), yards per attempt (6.6 in 2015, 6.8 in 2014), and adjusted QBR (73.4 in 2015, 73.2 in 2014). However, even though Dobbs hasn't necessarily improved much, a full season at the helm has placed him on track for some impressive accomplishments:

  • He is two touchdowns away from tying Peyton Manning's 1996 season and Dewey Warren's 1966 season for 10th on the Single Season Total Touchdown list.
  • He is 234 total yards away from passing Jonathan Crompton for 10th on the Single Season Total Offense list.
Records Within Dobbs' Grasp
Single Season Total Touchdowns Single Season Total Offense
Rank Player Touchdowns Year Rank Player Yards Year
10(T) Dewey Warren 23 1966 9 Andy Kelly 2,819 1991
10(T) Peyton Manning 23 1996 10 Jonathan Crompton 2,748 2009
NR Josh Dobbs 21 2015 NR Josh Dobbs 2,515 2015

Individual and Team Achievements Up for Grabs Against Vanderbilt

The Vols should have plenty of motivation at home against Vanderbilt this weekend-- beating the Commodores would move the 2015 team past Lane Kiffin's 2009 team for most regular season wins this decade, increase the likelihood of a better bowl game, and give individual players shots at the record books. If there's one thing Butch Jones has proved this season, it's that he understands how to motivate his team out of the locker room. With much to play for, expect Tennessee to come prepared to dominate Vanderbilt this weekend.