Film Study: Vols unleash Dobbs, diagnosing defense's slow starts

How Tennessee tweaked zone read to help turn Josh Dobbs loose and the missed run fits that cost the Vols defense a couple big plays.

After limiting Josh Dobbs to only four designed carries in game one, Tennessee turned him loose in Bristol and it paid off.
If you take away the sacks, Dobbs had 12 carries for 116 yards and two touchdowns on the ground.
Against Appalachian State, the Vols seldom used the zone read, one of the staples of their offense.  I counted only two uses of it and both times Dobbs gave the ball to the running back.
App. State and Virginia Tech tried to use a linebacker or defensive back to prevent Dobbs from running on the zone read.
In Bristol the Vols stuck a tight end of the backside of the line and used him to block that defender. It resulted in a fourth quarter touchdown.
A lot of talk this week has been about the slow starts for Tennessee's defense- giving up an early touchdown to App State, albeit on a short field, and allowing 204 yards in the first quarter to Va. Tech.
A couple of missed run fits, small mistakes, cost Tennessee a pair of big plays early in each of those games.
Here's what that means. There are gaps between the offensive line-  The A gap between the guards and center, B gap between the guards and tackles, C gap between the tackle and tight end, and D gap outside the tight end.
In Tennessee's usual scheme, each defender is responsible for one of these gaps on a run play.
On the second play of App. State's touchdown drive, the Vols end up with two defenders in one B gap and nobody in one of the A gaps, leaving a huge hole for a 20-yard gain. That gave the Mountaineers some momentum and they scored later in the drive.
Against Virginia Tech, the Vols gave up a 69-yard touchdown run in the first quarter.
It appears on that play, corner Justin Martin is what's called the force player. He is supposed to keep the running back from bouncing outside. He should "force" him back inside to the big defenders. But, Martin gets sucked inside and lets the running back get to edge for a big play.
"As we continue to improve, we have to do a much better job of limiting that and you know, you're going to have mistakes, nobody's ever played a perfect football game, but so much is being very detail oriented with our run fits," said Butch Jones at his Monday press conference.
"It's something we'll continue to work on and for the most part we've done a great job and again when we say a football game can come down to two to three plays that can make a difference, that's a prime example. We ran that blitz a number of times and fit it well and the one time we didn't, we gave up a long touchdown run and that just gets back to consistency."
So Tennessee still has some things to fix, but they are 2-0.


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