Back to business after an FCS opponent. And this week business is booming for Josh Dobbs. I start the email chain that becomes this post, so I always get the benefit of picking first. But I think we're all in agreement this week:
Will Shelton - Josh Dobbs
I think there are lots of other answers here that could lead to a comfortable Tennessee win if they play really well. Jalen Hurd could go off, or Tennessee's pass rush could completely shut down Florida's offense. But if we don't see a heroic individual performance elsewhere, I think Dobbs becomes the most important factor in making this game a win instead of a loss. The offensive line is a big part of the equation here, but I think Dobbs has the better chance to take a step forward. He's never taken a snap in a game that meant something for the SEC East race. Whether it is or isn't for Butch Jones, this is the biggest game yet for our quarterback. He doesn't have to be great throwing the ball, he just needs to be good enough on a handful of completions and not get us beat on the rest. If he can do that, we're coming home a winner.
I_S -- Jalen Hurd
Look, the answer to this question is Dobbs. The passing game needs to get something if Tennessee isn't going to rely on the defense to play perfectly. But you don't want to read every single person giving the same analysis, so I'm going with Hurd. He's going to see a lot of stacked fronts, but he has the power to gain yardage against stacked fronts. If he can steadily chip away at Florida, maybe even break off a big play now and again, it will take the pressure off Dobbs. And that's before we even mention pass protection, where Hurd has been fantastic so far. When he's not running, the ability to give Dobbs just a little more time will be key to helping the pass.
Chris Pendley - Mike DeBord
Is this cheating? Probably, but if I'm making an aggressive move here, it'd be one more than DeBord's made so far this season. Talent at the skill positions is as good as it's been since the Fulmer era (the offensive line, maybe a little less so). After hearing that DeBord coming in wouldn't change the offense, some of the core concepts we saw in 2013 and 2014 have gone away. Were they just mothballed waiting for conference play to start? Have the last three weeks been a snow job? Tennessee isn't good enough yet to sit back and out-talent even games; if you want to get that Goliath mindset, you've got to be a little David to get the confidence there. It's on DeBord to fuse the two together, and if going a little David gets a lead, it's on DeBord to not retreat into a shell. Put on More Steam. It's in the Maxims and everything, Mike.
Or, heck, maybe it's on Dobbs to ignore half the calls from the sideline, audible to four verts, and keep the ball away from Vernon Hargreaves III. Whatever. I won't complain, but that's the only way we see anything that aggressive on Saturday.
ps heard it here first if Cameron Sutton has a better game than Hargreaves
Hunter Turner - Number One Wide Receiver
Since Dobbs is off the table, the answer to this question is NUMBER ONE WIDE RECEIVER. I don't know who this is, you don't know who this is, heck, Zach Azzani probably doesn't know who this is... but somewhere in that ridiculous collection of unrealized talent at the wide receiver position is a playmaker with killer instincts. It could be that Josh Malone flips his switch all the way to on, or Preston Williams turns his preternatural gifts into instant success, or Marquez North fights through whatever he's dealing with to emerge as an unstoppable force...but we know that the Gators are going to play press coverage, and at some point late in the game, Dobbs is going to throw up an off-target jump ball, and a Vols' wide receiver will need to come up with a crucial catch. Ole Miss has Laquon Treadwell, Auburn has Duke Williams-- Tennessee needs someone tough enough, strong enough, and ruthless enough to put a dagger right in the heart of the Florida defense.
There's a long line of Tennessee wide receiver legends that stretches from Alvin Harper to Cordarrelle Patterson-- the Vols need someone to join that group on Saturday.
Nathanael Rutherford - Alvin Kamara
The answer to this question is obviously going to be Josh Dobbs. The offense will live or die by his hand in The Swamp this Saturday, and he has to step up his game. That and he's making his first start against the Gators and in an SEC game that actually matters in the East race as well. But since he's the obvious answer everyone will give, let's look at someone else who will be nearly as important. Alvin Kamara will be crucial to Tennessee's offense on Saturday. Kamara was used sparingly against Oklahoma a couple weeks ago, and that cannot happen again. Kamara showed why he was brought on with the Vols against Bowling Green and Western Carolina, and even if Jalen Hurd is the "hot hand" once again this Saturday, Kamara needs more than 5 touches like he did against the Sooners. Kamara brings a different style of play than Hurd does in the backfield, and the Vols need to use their rushing duo to attempt to attack Florida's stout run defense.