KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Mike DeBord knew better than to doubt his offensive designs and play calls, fully aware it was just a matter of Tennessee players executing.
“It doesn’t matter what you call up, it’s what you can execute,” the 60-year-old Vols offensive coordinator said in the days leading up to the Vols’ 38-28 win over Florida.
Josh Dobbs proved his coach correct, passing four four touchdowns and rushing for another as DeBord’s offense gained 498 yards against what was previously the No. 1-ranked defense in the nation.
The No. 11-ranked Vols (4-0, 1-0 SEC) trailed the No. 23-ranked Gators (3-1, 0-1) by a 21-3 count at the half.
But Tennessee’s defense held Florida to a three-and-out on the Gators’ first possession of the second half, and the offense responded with 35 unanswered points to seize control.
“The biggest (halftime) adjustment,” Receiver Josh Malone said, “was just executing the offense.”
Maybe so, but former NFL quarterback turned CBS analyst Gary Danielson heaped praise on one of the more creative scoring plays of the game.
“Give credit to a great design from Mike DeBord,” Danielson said. “Watch the design of this play, (Malone) is coming out of the backfield, he runs a slant.
“They know Florida loves to play bump-and-run (coverage), they isolate him on the outside technique,” Danielson said, explaining the action during the replay, “and (Florida’s) Duke Dawson is way out of position.”
DeBord said on the WNML Sunday radio show, “The Nation,” that the Florida scheme was sound from the outset.
“We got in at halftime, and we usually make some adjustments, but really there was nothing to adjust,” DeBord said. “What we’re doing is working; we have to catch the football.
“After watching game film … Josh Dobbs made some throws that were unbelievable, I mean big-time,” he said. “Sometimes he got hit, they had a great front, but in the second half he was on fire.”
DeBord, whose Tennessee’s offenses have averaged 33.5 points and 458.5 yards in two meetings with the Gators, called a pretty hot game, too.