Prior to Saturday, the Tennessee Volunteers had not defeated the Florida Gators in over a decade. Josh Dobbs had lost to the Gators twice himself heading into the game, but he would walk away with a different result than he had in the previous two seasons. In the tale of two halves, Tennessee snapped their decade-long losing streak to Florida, beating the Gators 38-28 at Rocky Top.
By: Derrik Klassen
The Gators dominated the first half. Their defense was lights out and had every aspect of the Tennessee offense smothered. Heading into the half, Florida had a seemingly comfortable 21-3 lead. As is typical of this rivalry game, chaos ensued in the second half and Florida quickly unraveled. Dobbs threw touchdown after touchdown past a hobbling, disoriented Gators secondary to give the Volunteers the lead and ultimately the victory.
- ADJ = Adjustment from receiver
- DE = Drop w/ effort or defended pass
- DB = Dropped blatantly
- TD = Touchdown
- INT = Interception
|25+||2/2 (1 TD)|
|21-25||1/1||1/1 (1 TD)||0/2 (1 DB, 1 INT)|
|11-15||1/2 (1 ADJ, 1 INT)||1/2 (1 DB)||0/2 (1 DE)|
|6-10||0/1 (1 DB)||3/4 (1 DE)||2/2 (1 TD)||0/1 (1 DE)|
|1-5||0/2 (1 DE)||0/2 (1 DB, 1 DE)||2/4 (1 DE)|
|Throwaways: 0||Left Outside||Left Middle||Right Middle||Right Outside|
Total: 15/32 (46.88%)
Dobbs’s passing chart this week is one of the weirdest single-game samples that I have ever recorded. The sub-50% completion rate immediately stands out, but considering that Dobbs only threw two passes behind the line of scrimmage and suffered from four blatant drops, it’s tough to weigh how Dobbs actually threw the ball. Tennessee’s offense asked a lot of him and he provided them with a mixed bag of results, not necessarily poor results.
This game, and Dobbs’s performance, was broken into two halves. Florida dominated the first half, holding Dobbs to seven completions on 20 passes, though four of the eleven incompletions were blatant drops. The Gators forced Dobbs into a red zone interception, too, as cornerback Quincy Wilson undercut an in-breaking route that Dobbs’s target was running. Tennessee managed a field goal before the half, but the game looked over right then and there.
The Gators secondary fell apart in the second half. Their defensive front was still generating pressure on Dobbs, but Tennessee’s wide receivers were open so quickly that it did not matter. Despite being pressured on eight of his twelve passes in the second half, Dobbs completed nine of his twelve passes, including three touchdowns in less than ten game time minutes to put the game away. The Gators secondary blew a handful of different plays in coverage, but Dobbs still had to find the receivers and complete the throws, and he did just that.
Pass Rush Breakdown:
- 4 Man Rush: 19 Times, 5 Pressures – 9/19 (1 ADJ, 2 DB, 3 DE, 1 TD, 1 INT)
- 5 Man Rush: 12 Times, 8 Pressures – 7/12 (1 DB, 3 DE, 2 TD, 1 INT)
- 6 Man Rush: 1 Time, 0 Pressures – 0/1 (1 DB)
Passing When Pressured: 7/13 (1 ADJ, 1 DB, 3 DE, 3 TD, 1 INT)
Dobbs was better when the Gators had fewer players in coverage. When Florida only rushed four and forced Dobbs to sift through heavy coverages, he struggled to find receivers. It was easier for Dobbs to find his target when Florida brought more heat. He looked comfortable under pressure and got ample protection from his offensive line considering how talented Florida’s front is. Florida made Dobbs play fast and he responded well.
- Play Action: 5/10 (3 DB, 1 DE, 2 TD)
- Rollouts: 3/5 (1 DB, 1 DE)
- 3rd/4th Down: 5/13 (1 DB, 4 DE, 1 TD, 1 INT)
- Red Zone: 2/6 (1 DB, 1 DE, 1 TD, 1 INT)
Tennessee’s wide receiver’s robbed Dobbs of statistical success on play action and rollouts. Dobbs was very accurate on those types of plays all day, but his receivers failed to capitalize a handful of times. Dobbs did struggle in situational play, though. He failed to complete at least half of his passes in both the red zone and on critical downs, plus he threw a third-down interception in the red zone. Luckily, Dobbs was bailed out by a number of big plays before being put in those situations, but one or two fewer blown coverages and Dobbs may have been put under much more situational pressure.
Route Break Key:
- S = Screen, Shoot, Swing
- O = Out-breaking
- I = In-breaking
- V = Vertical
- C = Crossing
|O||3/9 (1 DB, 4 DE)|
|I||6/8 (1 DE, 1 TD, 1 INT)|
|V||5/9 (1 ADJ, 1 DB, 2 TD, 1 INT)|
|C||0/4 (2 DB, 1 DE)|
Dobbs had a rough go of things on vertical routes last season, but put up great numbers there versus Florida. Granted, that can be partially credited to Florida leaving players wide open a few times, but Dobbs still executed well. Dobbs only really struggled on out-breaking routes. Dobbs does not have the best natural arm strength, nor does he have exceptional mechanics to maximize what arm strength he has, making those out-breaking throws tougher to hit.
|Jalen Hurd (No.1)||2/2|
|Josh Malone (No.3)||4/7 (1 DB, 2 DE, 1 TD)|
|Alvin Kamara (No.6)||1/3 (1 DE)|
|Latrell Williams (No.8)||0/1 (1 DE)|
|Tyler Byrd (No.10)||3/4|
|Jauan Jennings (No.15)||3/5 (1 ADJ, 1 TD, 1 INT)|
|Jason Croom (No.18)||1/2 (1 DB)|
|Josh Smith (No.25)||1/5 (2 DE, 1 INT)|
|Ethan Wolf (No.82)||1/3 (2 DB)|
For the most part, Dobbs spread the ball around. Nine different Tennessee players caught a pass, and only four of those players caught more than three passes. Dobbs kept the Gators defense on their toes and avoided being too predictable with his targets. Wide receiver Josh Smith did not look to be on quite the same page as Dobbs, but Dobbs did a fine job of getting the ball to most every other receiver, especially Josh Malone. Once Dobbs settled in during the second half, he diced up the Gators by throwing all over the field. He became tough to stop.
Josh Dobbs was not outright incredible, but he took advantage of a stumbling Gators defense. He began looking more to his playmakers in 1-on-1 situations and trusted them to make plays, and often times they did. Dobbs rode the wave of momentum that the Vols were able to generate in the second half and lead the charge to victory, giving the Volunteers their first win over Florida in eleven years. After a big win versus Virginia Tech and now Florida, Dobbs may have a newfound confidence that will help him soar through the remainder of the season.