A few numbers for your Sunday afternoon:
- Josh Dobbs completed 70.4% of his passes yesterday, tying his performance against Kentucky in 2014 (both 19 of 27) for his career high against FBS competition with 25+ attempts.
- Josh Malone has four touchdowns in three games. In Butch Jones’ tenure at Tennessee only Von Pearson in 2014 caught more touchdown passes (five) in an entire season.
- The 88 yards Ohio rushed for yesterday ties Missouri’s total last season as the fewest allowed by a Butch Jones defense at Tennessee.
- Tennessee has come away with points on all 11 trips to the red zone this year, including nine touchdowns (81.8%, 14th nationally).
- The Vol defense has allowed just seven plays of 20+ yards this year, 12th in the nation and tied with Florida for best in the SEC.
- Appalachian State did not make us look good yesterday. Virginia Tech made us look great in a 49-0 win over Boston College, last season’s national leader in total defense and yards per play allowed. The Hokies out-gained them 476-124, allowed only six Boston College first downs in the entire game, and Jerod Evans was 16 of 23 for 253 yards and five touchdowns through the air.
The Vols are an imperfect, flawed football team. So is everyone else. Don’t tell Louisville.
Our flaws are particularly frustrating at times because we feel like many of them are of our own making. But sometimes we can focus so much on the two passes Dobbs missed, we can completely overlook that he was as accurate overall as he’s ever been in a Tennessee uniform against the Bobcats. We get so caught up in legitimate questions about the offensive line, we may not give enough press to the legitimate answer emerging at wide receiver.
The ceiling might feel lower today, but the sky isn’t falling just yet. And even with what this team has put on tape so far this year, the ceiling is still higher than it’s been around here in a long time, and in this division the sky remains the limit. Tennessee suffered costly injuries to three of its least replaceable defensive players. Florida lost its starting quarterback. That’s football.
The Gators are still coming, and so is GameDay. Tennessee and Florida have plenty of unsolved mysteries. But both are also far from the disasters we sometimes allow ourselves to believe in the heat of the moment.
The Vols did some things pretty well on Saturday, most importantly in getting to 3-0 for the first time since 2004 and just the tenth time since 1974. Only 25 major conference teams are still undefeated. We’ve got issues, and trust me we’ll spend all week talking through them under an even bigger microscope. But we’ve still got plenty of good going for us too. So does Florida. Don’t forget that.
Breathe. You’re going to need your strength this week.