The number 28 play in our countdown to determine the best plays of Tennessee’s 2015 season is Jalen Hurd’s big hit in the Georgia game.
Jalen Hurd had many big plays in 2015. The Vols star running back ran for 1288 yards, good for seventh in the Tennessee record books for a single season, and the best ever by a sophomore. Hurd scored 14 total touchdowns, easily the most by any one player.
But of all the great plays Hurd made in 2015, there is one that will stick in the memory of Vol fans for a long time.
Early in the Vols matchup with Georgia, Tennessee faced a third-and-nine at the Bulldogs’ fifteen yard line. Offensive coordinator Mike DeBord did not want to throw the ball deep down the field, so he decided to go with some deception instead.
The Vols ran a throwback screen concept. Quarterback Josh Dobbs aligned in the shotgun with Hurd on his right. Dobbs took the snap and began to roll right, while the offensive linemen all slid to the right. The design of the play was to get the defense moving to the right.
Hurd, after faking a block, slipped back out to the left. Left guard Dylan Wiesman, center Mack Crowder, and right guard Jack Jones all released out to lead the way for Hurd downfield.
This was a pretty good play call by DeBord. He didn’t want to risk a downfield pass, so he went with a screen. The play was designed to catch Georgia off guard, and hopefully get Hurd the ball in space.
However, the play did not work like intended. Georgia wasn’t really fooled. When Hurd caught the pass, his back was to the defense, and he had three defenders closing in.
Sometimes as a coach, you call a good play, but the defense is ready to stop it. DeBord’s reasoning behind calling a screen pass was sound. It just failed to deceive the Bulldogs. Fortunately, DeBord designed the play to put the ball in the hands of Hurd, perhaps his best player. Even though the play didn’t fool Georgia as intended, the Vols still had a chance because the ball was in the hands of their best playmaker.
And make a play Hurd did. He cut back towards the middle of the field, causing all three defenders to miss. Hurd shed the next defender’s weak attempt at an arm tackle, and then sent another Bulldog to the ground with a juke move as he ran past the first down marker. If you lost count, that’s five Bulldogs who’ve failed to tackle Hurd.
Hurd caught the ball six yards behind the line of scrimmage with three defenders in his face, and ended up running for the first down. What a play. But the best was yet to come. Georgia nickel back Reggie Wilson ran across the formation and squared up to tackle Hurd. The 240 lbs. running back lowered his shoulder and, quite simply, ran over Wilkerson. His big hit made this one of the most memorable plays of the season.
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