KNOXVILLE — Mike DeBord knows he'll have an explosive group at his disposal in his second season as Tennessee's offensive coordinator.
And he knows it's up to him to maximize that talent.
Undoubtedly DeBord is spending time this summer reviewing what did and did not work last season and identifying how he can ensure the Volunteers are firing all cylinders, starting with quarterback Josh Dobbs.
"I think the one thing we're looking at from a coaching standpoint," DeBord said during a Tuesday morning interview on Sports Radio WNML in Knoxville, "is finding ways of getting him some higher-percentage throws early in the game and getting him off to a good start and also having those high-percentage throws in the game.
"Everybody wants to put the ball down the field and all that stuff, but those aren't as high-percentage throws as some of the other things. We've got to be able to mix both of those.
"I think Josh, he's working hard at improving basically everything. He never is satisfied with anything, and that's what I love about him. He works hard at everything, and that's what I know he's doing this offseason on his own right now."
Dobbs opened the break before his senior season with an aerospace engineering internship, spending the month of May in Montreal, and this weekend he'll head to Louisiana to serve as a counselor at the Manning Passing Academy for the third straight summer.
He's far from the only weapon DeBord can use to score points this season, though, and the coordinator knows it.
"I just came out of a meeting, and we're sitting in there and we're looking at all the ways we want to get guys the ball," he said. "I wish we had more balls to use on one particular play, but we've only got one football to give to somebody. But it's a good problem to have.
"We're going to play fast," he added. "I think that's an advantage for us. We're going to look at other ways of trying to do that maybe, but that's always going to be a part of our offense."
As they were last season, running backs Jalen Hurd and Alvin Kamara will be staples for Tennessee's offense.
During his break from school, Hurd has had a few videos posted on social media of his impressive workouts, including running 23.1 mph on a treadmill and one-leg squatting 255 pounds.
"Right now, he's got great motivation, which he's always had, but I think what he's done is he's looked at how he can maybe take it to another level and do different things," DeBord said. "That's what he's doing right now. He's extremely motivated, and he's in great condition as you can see in some of those videos.
"Jalen is really excited about this upcoming season, and he's preparing for it like that."
Tennessee's offense improved last season as DeBord found the best ways to use Kamara's home-run ability, and plans of expanding his role helped entice him to return to the Vols instead of jumping to the NFL. Kamara lined up as a slot receiver some in the spring, and Tennessee could use unconventional methods to get Kamara the ball in the open field, where his elusiveness and speed can shine.
"Any time you have guys that obviously have that play-making ability, it always helps you, no matter if it was another receiver or another tight end or whatever it may be," DeBord said. "Alvin, he brings quickness, he brings speed and obviously he can run the football, as we well know, but he can also do things out of the slot. He brings a lot, and we have to use that."
Though the Vols will be a run-heavy team again with who's in their backfield, DeBord acknowledged they must be able to complete deep throws and generate explosive plays in the passing game to loosen opposing defenses.
"That was another thing we were in the process of talking about right now today was just what those plays will be like and who we'll try to put in there and use in those situations," he said. "I think that obviously will back some people off, and we've got to do that. We've got to back some people off so that they're not all sitting around the box."
Contact Patrick Brown at firstname.lastname@example.org.