JOE BIDDLE: Dobbs steers Vols’ ship

(Courtesy: WATE)

When the good Joshua Dobbs shines, life is good.

When the bad Joshua Dobbs shows up, the Vols often lose.

As Joshua Dobbs goes, so go the Vols.

In pursuit of a SEC East Division title, Dobbs was at his best against Kentucky Saturday in Neyland Stadium.

He was accountable for five touchdowns and 352 yards as the Vols rolled, 49-36.

If only Dobbs played this way every game, Vols coach Butch Jones would not have to get bombarded with negativity courtesy of Twitter, Facebook or other smart aleck media types.

Dobbs can see the finish line of his career and wants nothing more than going out in style, leading the Vols to a still possible SEC Championship Game.

The Kentucky Wildcats were on the Vols’ barbecue spit Saturday.

Even though Kentucky drew first and last blood, its 36 points came up 13 points short.

Dobbs was nothing short of brilliant for the Vols. They have now won 31 of the last 32 games against the ‘Cats. Dobbs will leave with a 4-0 record against the Wildcats.

Dobbs put up the best compilation of numbers in this game. It is one of three more games the Vols had to win in order to challenge Florida for the East championship.

Now it’s a two-game playoff.

Tennessee needs one team on Florida’s schedule to upset the Gators and the Vols will be in Atlanta to meet the West Division champion, which appears to be the Crimson Tide of Alabama, a team that is favored to win another national championship.

Florida dispatched South Carolina Saturday, and a makeup game against LSU in Baton Rouge Saturday appears to be Tennessee’s best bet to claim what they were predicted to do in preseason.

Offensive coordinator Mike Debord has been widely panned for his game plans having scant imagination.

His flea-flicker play had Dobbs handing off to running back John Kelly. Kelly took a few steps forward before flipping it back to Dobbs, who wound up and hit Josh Malone for a 51-yard touchdown pass after Malone broke one would-be tackler.

It was one of Dobbs’ finest hours.

“Joshua Dobbs did some really good things,’’ Vols Coach Butch Jones said. “If we can get Joshua in the rush game and the throw game . . . We had a good game plan and thought it was a football team that really came together.’’

They know what they have to do. Missouri is in Knoxville next week and the Vols will travel to Vanderbilt to close the regular season.

The absence of former rushing leader Jalen Hurd was barely noticed, if at all. The team seemed to be more excited, playing for each other and pumped up.

Kelly and a healthy Alvin Kamara is a better combo without Hurd.

“ This is a football team that really came together. Individuals put the team first. They wanted to play. They willed themselves to get back healthy,’’ Jones said. “I thought that it really sparked our team.

“I told them to never take winning for granted,’’ Jones said.

Wise words indeed.

Joe Biddle is a sports columnist. He is also a member of the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame. Contact him at