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Alabama Football 2015: Previewing the Tennessee Offense

A promising Tennessee offense was decimated by injuries early in the season and is still struggling to find an identity.

Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports

The 2015 Volunteer offense has been less than spectacular to this point. Injuries to top playmaking receivers Marquez North and Pig Howard left Tennessee floundering in the water at the onset of 2015 in the passing game, and a solid run game can only salvage so much.

For his part, junior quarterback Josh Dobbs has been solid for the Volunteers. As a passer, he's thrown for a middling 1101 yards on the season on a 58% completion rate. His 6.52 yards per attempt is also quite low. However, Dobbs has shown an aversion to making errors, as evidenced by the fact that he's only thrown two interceptions so far this season. Where Dobbs really does his damage, however, is on the ground. He's the second leading rusher on the team with 368 yards and 5 touchdowns. He can damage defenses both on designed runs and scrambles, and, all in all, is an exceptionally smart and athletic player.

At running back, Jalen Hurd returned from his phenomenal freshman season to become the feature back of this offense. The big guy has ground out 572 yards and 7 touchdowns on a workman-like 4.5 yards per carry. The 6'4" 240 monster is a playmaker any time he has the ball, but really makes his name in short yardage situations. Behind Hurd, former Alabama running back Alvin Kamara has become a staple in this offense. He has put up 255 yards on an impressive 5.7 yards per carry, and also is tied for second on the team with 15 receptions. Tennessee uses Hurd and Kamara similarly to how Alabama uses Derrick Henry and Kenyan Drake: a hulking lead back takes the brunt of the carries, while a smaller, quicker back is used as a change of pace and receiver out of the backfield.

The receiving corps has been in disarray with the absence of Howard and North, and Josh Dobbs has done a great job spreading the ball around to a myriad of pass catchers. Tight end Ethan Wolf leads the team 213 yards, with sophomore slot receiver, Josh Malone right behind him with 169 yards. Freshman Preston Williams has emerged as a deep threat, averaging 22.6 yards per catch on only 7 receptions. Josh Smith and Von Pearson also have both eclipsed 100 yards receiving on the season.

The Volunteer offensive line is very young. Left tackle Kyler Kerbyson is a senior, and right guard Dylan Wiesman is a junior, but the other 3/5 of the line are all sophomores.

The Tennessee offense had a lot of potential with a strong running game, heady and athletic quarterback, and a couple of proven playmakers at receiver, but was derailed by the injuries to the two receivers. While by no means a bad offense, the Volunteers boast significantly less of an offensive threat than Ole Miss, Texas A&M, Georgia, or even Arkansas did to the Tide.