Tennessee running low on wide receiver options
The top-25 ranked Tennessee Volunteers are running out of options at wide receiver, as head coach Butch Jones announced that top WR Pig Howard is suspended for the September 5th season opener against Bowling Green. Howard graded positively a year ago despite shaky QB play (-20.8 between three QBs).
In addition to Howard missing time, the Vols will be without junior Jason Croom and freshman Vincent Perry, both needing knee surgery. While we did rank Tennessee second in the SEC East coming into the season, they’re heavily relying on QB Joshua Dobbs to keep the team afloat as they get past injuries and suspensions.
Howard provides a veteran presence on a young, inexperienced team. Bowling Green is no pushover after winning a bowl game in 2014 and relying on an offensive line that graded positively across the board. With Bowling Green cornerbacks James Sanford and Clint Stephens grading very well in pass coverage, the Vols will need to utilize Dobbs’ legs (+12.2 run grade) to secure a victory.
Dobbs was electric with the football in his hands forcing 22 missed tackles on just 96 carries and running for eight TDs. With a suspect offensive line in front of him, Dobbs also fared well under pressure, increasing his QB Rating 11.5 points and posting a better PFF grade (-1.8 under pressure vs -6.5 no pressure) in said situations.
While Howard’s suspension hurts, Dobbs ability as a dual-threat QB at least lessens the blow on the Vols’ receiving group, as he looks to improve with a full off season as the starter under his belt.