Opinion: Looking towards bye week improvements, concerns

Though the Vols finished with an exciting OT win, there are things offensively and defensively that will need to be addressed over this bye week heading into the final stretch of the season.

Photo by Ryan McGill.

After arguably the worst performance by the Vol defense this season, the Dobbs-powered offense played at a level the Vols haven’t seen in quite some time.

With an overtime victory against arguably their toughest remaining opponent, the rest of the schedule could be promising for this Vols team, especially with another week of preparation in store.

Though the Vols finished with an exciting OT win, there are things offensively and defensively that will need to be addressed over this bye week heading into the final stretch of the season.

The Good:

Quarterback play and overall offensive productivity was the key to winning the game last Saturday. Quarterback Josh Dobbs completed 22 of 40 passes accounting for 301 yards while adding 166 yards on the ground by 24 carries. The offensive success was directly related to Dobbs who had two passing touchdowns, three rushing touchdowns, and 467 yards total offense.

The rest of the offense performed well too. Freshman Jalen Hurd had his most balanced and impressive game as a Vol, capitalizing on his performance with a fourth down touchdown in the fourth quarter. Pig Howard, Von Pearson and Jason Croom also added substantial yardage to the stat line and helped to put the Vols in the position to win.

The Bad:

The Vols secondary has been highly complimented this season for their efficiency, but did not show their poise this weekend. The defense allowed the Gamecocks to complete 21 of 34 passes for 34 yards and three touchdowns, while only recording one interception. In the upcoming weeks, the Vols need to find a way to involve DB Cam Sutton more than Justin Coleman against stronger receiving corps.

Also needing improvement are the special teams. Until the fourth quarter and OT when freshman kicker Aaron Medley made his big kick, he was having a subpar night only going 1/3 for field goals. Punter Matt Darr also struggled on the night, only having one good 55 yard punt.

The Vols get to rest for a week and then get to play at home against an upstart Kentucky team. This game could be a deciding factor in whether or not the Vols go to a bowl game, and a win next week would do a lot for this fan base and this team.

Edited by Will Lomas