Tag:Tyler Bray
Posted on: January 20, 2012 4:34 pm
Edited on: January 30, 2012 2:31 pm
 

A first look at 2012's returning starters

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

It's never, ever too early to talk about the next college football season once the previous one has passed. But it's a lot less too early once the deadline for NFL Draft declarations has passed and teams can enjoy an accurate -- or at least semi-accurate -- gauge of what their returning talent will look like next season.

Thanks to data-cruncher Phil Steele, we can enjoy that same semi-accurate gauge. As he does every January -- among the teams predicted for big things at this time last year were Michigan, Alabama and Vanderbilt -- Steele has released a comprehensive list of FBS returning starters for 2012, ranking each team 1-123. Yes, 123, thanks to the arrivals of UT-San Antonio, Texas State and UMass; Larry Coker's UTSA Roadrunners even top the list with 23 total returning starters (11 offensive, 10 defensive, and both specialists) as they ready for their first WAC season.

But of course, UTSA has its work cut out for it to make an impact, no matter how experienced its players might be. Among programs college football fans are more familiar with, here's the numbers and teams from Steele's data that stand out:

  • Sharing the lead amongst all BCS programs are Texas Tech and Tennessee with 20 starters each, including quarterbacks Seth Doege and Tyler Bray, respectively. If Red Raider and Volunteer third-year coaches Tommy Tuberville and Derek Dooley can't turn that kind of experience into a better year 3 than their collective Year 2's, neither one should be surprised if they don't receive a Year 4.
  • Never say never with Chris Petersen still around, but this looks like the season Boise State's incredible run of dominance and top-10 finishes comes to a halt. The Broncos rank dead-last, rock-bottom, with just 6 starters coming back--3 offensive 2 defensive, and (infamous) kicker Dan Goodale. (Then again, in the newly TCU-less Mountain West, will anyone stop them regardless? The league leader in returning starters is Colorado State, with no other MWC program ranked higher than Fresno State at 29th.)
  • It's possible Badger fans will rue their back-to-back failures at the Rose Bowl even more than they do already; with just 10 returning starters, Wisconsin ranks at the bottom of the Big Ten and 116th overall. Big Ten fans should instead gear up now for an even-more-critical Ohio State-Michigan game than usual; the Buckeyes are second in the league behind Indiana with 18 starters, and the Wolverines are tied with Nebraska for third with 16.
  • The Vols, Auburn, Florida and Vanderbilt top the SEC list -- with 18 starters or more, all rank among the nation's 19 most experienced teams -- which means the league could see a more topsy-turvy season than usual; despite their cavalcade of young talent LSU returns just 5 defensive starters, national champions Alabama just 4. Despite major losses on the offensive line, Georgia looks poised to field the conference's best defense, with nine starters coming back for a unit already ranked fifth in the FBS.
  • Why is USC getting so much early preseason love? Pretty simple: of the 10 teams listed in Bruce Feldman's early-bird top 10, the Trojans are one of just two to have as many as 17 returning starters. The other is Oklahoma, and since the Sooners finished the year getting chewed up and spit out by Oklahoma State while the Trojans were busy upsetting Oregon in Eugene and annihilating UCLA, it's not hard to see why voters might go for the former.
  • Poor Al Golden: not only is his Miami team still laboring under the weight of the Nevin Shapiro allegations, not only do they rank 96th nationally and tie for next-to-last in the ACC with 12 returning starters, but according to Steele's data the Hurricanes are -- amazingly -- the only ACC team to not return its starting quarterback for next season. 
  • Gus Malzahn is going to be one of the FBS's most closely watched mid-major head coaches after his move from Auburn, and with six returning starters including QB Ryan Aplin on offense, the Red Wolves should be fine on that side of the ball. But with just three starters back on defense, ASU ranks 116th overall and last in the Sun Belt in total starters returning. Opposite Malzahn's punishing up-tempo attack, we'd like to place an early wager on the Red Wolves as one the nation's statistically weakest D's in 2012 ... and on Malzahn needing at least two years to return ASU to last year's championship perch.

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Posted on: December 2, 2011 4:05 pm
Edited on: December 9, 2011 7:20 pm
 

Dooley refutes reports on Vol WR Rogers

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

UPDATE, 7:30 p.m. ET: Despite mutliple reports across various outlets corroborating the initial news that Da'Rick Rogers was facing some degree of roster exile, Derek Dooley refuted them Friday afteroon.

"Da'Rick Rogers has not been suspended and is still a part of our football team," Dooley said through a statement.

This may be true. But frankly, the degree and strength of the reports from Friday afternoon -- see below -- suggest that if Rogers isn't suspended, isn't off the roster, it doesn't mean he's necessarily in the clear. Dooley may not like using the word "suspension" and definitely won't appreciate the leak in the wake of Vanderbilt-gate, but we're not convinced Rogers isn't in some kind of hot water.

So take the below with a grain of salt. But take Dooley's denials with the same.

-----------------------  

The news for Derek Dooley and Tennessee seems to just keep getting worse.

GVX247.com's Wes Rucker has reported that leading wide receiver Da'Rick Rogers is not a current part of the Vols' active roster, throwing his status for the 2012 season in doubt. Rogers has the opportunity to earn his way back onto the team, according to the report, but for now has been effectively suspended.

We say "effectively" since Rucker's sources -- and others' -- are avoiding calling it a suspension, comparing the situation to that of now-former Vol safety Janzen Jackson. Jackson left the team in the 2010-2011 offseason to work on "personal issues" before eventually returning to school in July ... and being dismissed in August. 

Per the Knoxville News-Sentinel, the reasons for Dooley's decision are not public knowledge at this time.

Vol fans will no doubt be hoping for a much happier ending where Rogers is concerned than they got with Jackson. Though his numbers may have benefitted from the absence of fellow receiving stud Justin Hunter for all but three games, they were most certainly not helped by the five games missed by starting quarterback Tyler Bray--and Rogers still led the SEC in receptions (67) and yards (1,040) while ranking second second in receiving scores with 9. Subjectively, the former five-star recruit gave the Vols a physical, clutch presence in the aerial game that at times was the only positive thing the often-toothless Tennessee attack had going for it in 2011.

In short: his departure would be yet another major blow to a reeling program that simply can't absorb many more like it and get back to where its fans (and administrators) expect it to be. Rogers isn't a goner just yet, fortunately, but until he returns we won't blame anyone in Knoxville for fearing the worst ... especially after the year the Vols just endured.
Posted on: November 27, 2011 12:59 am
 

SEC Winners and Losers, Week 13

Posted by Jerry Hinnen



WINNER: The Rematch. Before LSU and Alabama ever took the field Nov. 5, one of the hottest topics in college football was already whether the Tigers and Tide were so far out in front of the rest of the field that they could -- and maybe should -- meet again in New Orleans for the BCS championship. At that point, it seemed like outsized SEC hubris--not only did LSU and Alabama have to run the rest of the respective tables, but somewhere in the neighborhood of half a dozen teams had to suffer major upset losses.

But however you feel about the Tigers and Tide throwing out the results of their first experiment and starting from scratch for almost all the marbles (their loss in Tuscaloosa will at least cost the Tide a shot at an SEC title), the arguments at this stage are
all but academic; regardless of the results of championship weekend, LSU and Alabama are such clearcut Nos. 1 and 2 in the BCS standings that they'll almost certainly stay that way even if LSU falls to Georgia in Atlanta this Saturday. The tables have been run, right up through Friday's rout of Arkansas by the Tigers and Alabama's bludgeoning of Auburn Saturday. The half-dozen teams have suffered those upsets. Whatever hope Oklahoma State had of getting the nod from voters was probably extinguished by the overwhelming matter in which LSU and Alabama won. It's done.

LOSERS: SEC haters. All of which means the SEC is going to win its sixth consecutive national championship. And while maybe the league has gotten a little too much credit for that achievement -- the conference's reputation has helped mask that behind the LSU/Alabama/Arkansas/Georgia triumvirate, there's precious little real quality -- is anyone really going to argue that the Tigers and Tide aren't the nation's two best teams right now? That the season shouldn't end with one team or the other hoisting the crystal football? It ain't bragging if you can back it up, and when it comes to assembling national title-caliber teams, the SEC has backed it up. Again. Sorry, rest of the country.

WINNER: James Franklin. Since George MacIntyre left the Vanderbilt head coaching job in 1985, five different Commodores head coaches came and went with a combined 17 seasons in Nashville ... and no bowl berths. The one coach who has taken Vandy to a bowl game since MacIntyre managed it in 1982, Bobby Johnson, did it just once in one (utterly charmed) season out of eight. So how fantastic of a job has Franklin done to not only take the 'Dores to a bowl, not only do it in his first season, but do it in out-and-out style, with a 41-7 road win over Wake Forest that cemented that Vandy -- with its 0-4 record in one-possession SEC games -- was better than its record?

A fantastic enough of a job that we'll call it a shame if Les Miles wins the SEC Coach of the Year in unanimous fashion. Miles deserves the award ... but Franklin deserves to be part of the conversation.

LOSER: Derek Dooley. We've picked on Dooley a couple of times in Winners and Losers recently, and take no joy in singling him out again. But facts are facts: if we were ranking the 11 employed SEC coaches in terms of who we'd want to fill a hypothetical SEC coaching vacancy starting tomorrow, Dooley would be ranked dead last, 11th out of 11. 

The contrast Saturday vs. Kentucky couldn't be starker. With his offense struggling horrifically, Joker Phillips pulled the trigger on a crazy scheme change, moved Matt Roark to quarterback, gave up on the pass entirely ... and won the game. With his offense struggling horrifically, Dooley declared "steady as she goes" ... and will be at home for the bowl season. 

WINNER: Connor Shaw. It was only four games ago that Shaw took his Gamecocks into Knoxville and threw for fewer than 100 yards, just 4.8 yards an attempt, and an even 1-to-1 touchdown-to-interception ratio as the running game and defense did all the heavy lifting. Against Clemson, it was Shaw doing nearly all the lifting, and then some. In the air the sophomore hit 14-of-20 for 10.5 yards an attempt and a three-to-zero TD-to-INT ratio, but he was even more dangerous on the ground: 19 carries, 108 yards, and another touchdown. No one's about to mistake Shaw for Cam Newton, but if the only comparison you made was Shaw's stat line from Saturday to one from Newton's last season ... well then, you, might be forgiven. 

LOSER: The overall state of quarterbacking in the SEC. Oh, AJ McCarron was excellent vs. Auburn, Aaron Murray deadly vs. Georgia Tech, and Shaw you just read about. But in the nether regions of the conference ... yeesh. Clint Moseley was disastrous for Auburn vs. the Tide, and seemed to have lost the confidence of a subdued Gus Malzahn. John Brantley threw three first-half interceptions before being sidelined with a concussion, whereupon Jacoby Brissett entered to throw a pick-six. Tyler Bray threw one 53-yard touchdown bomb ... and on his other 37 passes averaged just 4.4 yards a pass attempt and tossed a pair of interceptions. Ole Miss's Barry Brunetti was barely there. And Kentucky, of course, didn't even use a quarterback.

Lots of SEC defenses have outstanding pass defense numbers. Some of that is because they are good. Much of that, though, is because of play like the above. 

WINNER: the Ole Miss Rebels. Not on the field, of course; on the field, the Rebels lost their third straight to their in-state archrivals at Mississippi State in a 31-3 laugher that was never competitive. But on the plus side, this apocalyptic 2-10, 0-8 SEC season is finally, mercifully over and the search for a replacement for Houston Nutt can start in earnest. And that is the best thing that's happened for the Rebels in weeks.

LOSER: the Florida Gators. Unlike the Rebels, Will Muschamp's team will head to a bowl at 6-6. And Muschamp will no doubt say that that will give him and his staff a key opportunity to develop his young, still scheme-adjusting team during postseason practice. But the abject misery of the Gators' offensive showing against Florida State -- 21 points essentially yielded on interceptions to 7 points scored -- and flood of injuries made the team  look for all the world like one that would simply welcome the end of this punishing season. They'll trod on to the Music City Bowl or something similar, but we can't imagine anyone in Gainesville is all that excited about it.

Posted on: November 26, 2011 4:18 pm
 

QUICK HITS: Kentucky 10, Tennessee 7

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

KENTUCKY WON: 
In and of itself, not a big deal. But they won against Tennessee. Kentucky never beats Tennessee. They hadn't done it in 26 years. They'd had a dozen golden opportunities over the years and never pulled it off. Apparently, what they needed was to plug in a wide receiver at quarterback and let him operate out of the Wildcat nearly the entire game; Matt Roark ran for 152 yards and tailback CoShik Williams added 68 yards and the one second-half touchdown the Wildcats would need. The much-maligned Kentucky defense held Tyler Bray below a 50 percent completion rate and picked him off twice -- once on the Vols' 4th-and-17 final desperate play -- and of course the Tennessee running game added nothing. Result? Wildcats 10, Vols 7. Yes, Virginia, Kentucky can beat Tennessee.

WHY KENTUCKY WON: As much attention as Joker Phillips' decision to go to Roark at quarterback and completely forsake the terrible Wildcat passing game will get -- Kentucky only attempted 6 passes, completing four of them for all of 15 yards -- this game was ultimately about how flat-out awful the Volunteer offense became over the second half of this season. Shooting blanks against Alabama or LSU or with Justin Worley at the helm is one thing; with Bray under center and facing the nation's 64th-ranked defense, the Vols should have been able to put at least a few points on the board, right? 

Aside from one 54-yard bomb from Bray to Raijon Neal that gave Tennessee a brief glimmer of second-half hope: entirely wrong. Bray averaged a just-better-than-terrible 5.7 yards an attempt, thanks half in part to some scattershot throws and half due to the Vol receivers failing repeatedly to get open. As always, the Tennessee running game did nothing, netting 61 yards on 24 carries. And with the game on the line in the fourth quarter, the Vol line could not keep Kentucky's defensive line off of Bray--thus the game coming down to "4th-and-17."

Derek Dooley is about to have a flamethrower taken to him by Vol fans and the Knoxville media, not that it will keep him from a third year at the helm. But his inability to find any way to get the Tennessee offense moving at all -- especially when contrasted with Phillips's ingenuity with Roark -- means some of that heat is justified.

WHEN TENNESSEE LOST: When Taiedo Smith picked off Bray on that 4th-and-17 from Tennessee's 31. With fewer than 90 seconds left and no Vol timeouts remaining, all that was left was the Wildcat victory formation.

WHAT KENTUCKY WON: I think they'll be happy with snapping the nation's longest annual series losing streak, don't you?

WHAT TENNESSEE LOST: Not only did the loss end the nation's longest annual series winning streak, not only will it crank up the heat on Dooley's seat to the hottest levels in the SEC (and maybe the nation), but this loss drops Tennessee to 5-7 overall--and will leave the Vols home for bowl season, depriving them not only of the prestige and payout but the extra practice that Dooley's young team desperately needs. There's no way to spin this as anything less than a total disaster for the Vols and their head coach. 

Posted on: November 20, 2011 2:32 am
 

SEC Winners and Losers, Week 12

Posted by Jerry Hinnen



WINNER: The top quarter of the SEC. Things are as good for the three teams that have perched at the top the SEC all season as they've been, well, all season. LSU? Just another ho-hum 49-point pounding of some hapless overmatched opponent, and now just two wins away from the BCS national championship game. Arkansas? A 27-point thumping of a team that's given them fits in the past, and thanks to the carnage across the country a certain spot in the BCS top five--potentially setting up the Hogs for an SEC West title if they knock off the Tigers. (We think. Maybe.)

But neither the Tigers nor the Razorbacks are as happy this weekend as is Alabama. Thanks to Oklahoma State's pratfall in Ames, Oregon's loss to USC, and Oklahoma's defeat in Waco, the Tide has now seen every conceivable obstacle between themselves and a hypothetical BCS rematch against the Tigers fall by the wayside. Win next week against Auburn, and the Tide are all but guaranteed to head to New Orleans ... one way or another.

LOSER: The other three quarters of the SEC. No one who's watched the SEC week-in and week-out would argue this is a vintage year for the league's depth, but the conference reached a new 2011 low on Saturday morning. With three SEC teams taking on three representatives from the FCS Southern Conference, the combined score of the three games midway through the collective second quarter was a tight 42-34 ... in favor of the SoCon.

Yes, Auburn eventually pulled away from Samford, Florida from Furman, and South Carolina from the Citadel. But when the conference's de facto No. 5/6/7 (in some order) teams have those kinds of struggles with FCS competition, "down year" doesn't totally cover it. And team No. 4 -- Georgia -- may have won the East, but anything similar to their sloppy, flat, lackluster performance against Kentucky will get them annihilated in Atlanta in two weeks.

WINNERS: Tauren Poole and Da'Rick Rogers. Even as Tennessee collapsed to a 0-6 SEC record, a handful of Vols continued to shine amongst the wreckage, and Poole and Rogers were two of the brightest spots. With a chance to salvage a bowl berth at home against a Vanderbilt team that some would argue had surpassed the Vols -- in the coaching department, on the recruiting trails, and on the field -- Poole and Rogers put the team on their back. Poole ran 19 times for 107 big yards and added 21 more in the receiving game. Rogers was even bigger--10 catches, 116 yards and two touchdowns, including a sensational one-handed grab to tie the game at 21 in the fourth quarter. The two late interceptions of Jordan Rodgers -- the game-winner obviously included -- were the Vols' biggest plays. But with Tyler Bray rusty, Poole and Rogers were their biggest players.

LOSERS: The officials at Tennessee-Vanderbilt. We want to be kind to college football officials, who have a thankless job we would never, ever volunteer for ourselves. But kindness only extends so far, and it doesn't extend past the phenomenal botch-job in the first overtime of 'Dores-Vols. If you missed it: Rodgers threw an interception to Eric Gordon, who returned it for an apparent game-winning touchdown. But Gordon was whistled down by the line judgeeven with replay showing he wasn't close to having his knee down. Unfortunately for the Vols, that play isn't reviewable ... except that the officials reviewed it anyway under the pretense of checking if the whistle blew. And even though it did, the call was overturned anyway. It's not just us saying this either--the official SEC response confirms that the call was butchered six ways from Sunday.

To be fair, the officials eventually arrived at the right call; Tennessee won the game fair-and-square on Gordon's play. But that it took two dreadful wrongs to get there was an embarrassment.

WINNER: Blair Walsh. Sure, the longest of his four field goals vs. Kentucky was just 39 yards. But Walsh has been so erratic this season -- just 13-of-23 coming into this game --that Georgia will take four routine makes in a heartbeat. The Dawgs won't feel better about their chances of winning the SEC after their outing today, but a Walsh with his head screwed on correctly will be a big positive nonetheless.

LOSER: Will Muschamp's defensive reputation. The transition from Urban Meyer's spread looks to Charlie Weis's pro-style schemes was always going to be a problem for the Gators. But with the bevy of athletes at their disposal in the front seven, Muschamp's coaching acumen, and a defense that ranked ninth in the country in total defense a year ago, the Florida defense shouldn't have taken that much of step back, right? Statistically, they haven't; entering this week, the Gators were still 11th in the FBS. But Muschamp's and coordinator Dan Quinn's defense has had a few notable lapses this season, maybe none bigger than somehow allowing Furman 446 yards and 32 points. Motivation couldn't have been easy to come by, but that's simply not the sort of defensive numbers put up by a top-notch SEC defense.

WINNERS/LOSERS: Rematch lovers/haters. The bottom line about one of the wildest weeks in BCS history: LSU vs. Alabama is now the clearcut most likely outcome for the BCS title game. Love it or hate it, we can at least say this: you'd better get used to it. 

Posted on: November 18, 2011 5:31 pm
 

Vandy's Franklin expects Bray to play for Vols

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

When last Eye on CFB checked in on Tennessee quarterback  Tyler Bray, the sophomore gunslinger had been cleared to practice, with Derek Dooley saying he'd be "crazy" not to give him the start if his broken thumb had healed enough for him to play. Four days of practice later, what's changed?

Nothing where the Vols and Dooley are officially concerned--Dooley's most recent official comment was that Bray would be a game-time decision, saying it "may come down to pregame warmups." But with Dooley also discussing how Bray would best handle snaps and no doubt desperate to avoid an 0-7 "start" to the SEC season, it'll be something of a surprise if Bray doesn't take the field; CBSSports.com Tennessee RapidReporter Daniel Lewis writes that "all indications" are that Bray will play.

So no one will blame Tennessee's Saturday opponent, Vanderbilt, for assuming they're going to see the largely successful Bray-led version of Vols from early this season rather than the offensive horror show they've been in his five-game absence. Commodore head coach James Franklin took Bray's inclusion as all but a foregone conclusion:
“Tyler Bray, getting him back … that will give them a spark of energy,” Franklin said. “When you’re able to get a guy like that back, it has an effect on the coaches in terms of confidence in what they can call when you have an experienced quarter.

“And then also, receivers just seem to run better routes when they’ve got their guy. Tight ends: same thing. The O-line seems to protect well. So it will have a spark for sure.”
The stakes are high for Franklin's team, which would clinch only the program's second bowl berth in its last 29 seasons with a win--not to mention being able to claim a victoy over the Vols for, likewise, just the second time in those same 29 years. Even if only by a point, the Commodores are favored for just the second time in the series since lines were established.

That makes the game a massive opportunity for Franklin and his 'Dores, and it's no surprise they're preparing for the best Volunteer opponent they can imagine seeing. As Dooley said: there's too much on the line for both teams to take the "crazy" step of holding Bray out if he's at all available.
Posted on: November 16, 2011 1:24 pm
Edited on: November 16, 2011 1:37 pm
 

Dooley inspiring Vols with orange dog statue

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

There's no easy, clever way to introduce this remarkable story from the Knoxville News-Sentinel, so we'll get right to the details: Derek Dooley attempted to inspire his struggling Tennessee team Tuesday by having a ceramic orange dog statue wheeled around practice on a dolly.

"It's just a reminder, you know, when you get something in your mind that is negative or you get down on yourself," Dooley said of the statue. After his team's 49-7 loss to Arkansas Saturday, Dooley refused to let his team watch the game tape and told them they needed to feed the "orange dog," a symbol of positive thinking, instead of the "red dog," its negative opposite.

"You've got one side that wants to be negative and wants to feel sorry for yourself and wants to make excuses and blame others," Dooley said. "Then you've got another side who thinks good thoughts and has a lot of encouragement, is a little more solution-oriented and isn't so emotionally drawn to the results. That's the side we need to feed ourselves with."

So what did this dog statue look like? Via the Vols' official athletics site, here's a photo of it being moved on its dolly:



As for the players' reactions, it doesn't sound like Tyler Bray is taking it too seriously--though at least it has his attention. Defensive end Marlon Walls seemed to get the message, though.

"When I first saw it, I laughed about it. But at the same time, I thought, 'This is something serious. We've got to learn how to be more positive,'" Walls told the News-Sentinel. "Especially right now, coming off a loss like that, got to be more positive. We've got to put it behind us and look at that orange dog and get focused and think of something positive to say to somebody else to help their day out. It was a good thing seeing it out there."

So we'll call the initial reaction ... mixed, and wait to see how well the Vols do against Vanderbilt Saturday before casting a final judgment on Dooley's motivational acumen. Which leaves just one question: where did Dooley come up with this idea of the "orange dog" and the "red dog"? Via our own Tom Fornelli, here's an artistic interpretation we think comes very close to the truth:



Orange dog statue photo credit* to UTSports.com

*Not a phrase we ever expected to use

Posted on: November 14, 2011 5:29 pm
 

Tennessee QB Bray cleared to practice

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

In the darkest hour his program has seen in years, could Tyler Bray ride in to save Tennessee's season?

It's still very much to-be-determined. But the first step in that direction has been taken, as Derek Dooley confirmed Monday that doctors have cleared Bray to return to practice. The true sophomore has missed the Vols' last five games with a broken thumb, five games in which his team has gone 1-4 and not once scored more than 7 points against SEC opposition.

That kind of despair is why Dooley made no secret of the fact that he's hoping Bray will be able to make a gof of it Saturday in the Vols' make-or-break game against Vanderbilt. A loss would drop Tennessee to 0-7 in the SEC and eliminate the Vols from postseason consideration.

"The reality is, if he's ready to go, we'd be crazy not to give him a shot," Dooley said.

But will he be ready to go? Dooley described Bray's status as "questionable" and said the quality of his reps in practice this week -- Bray is reportedly in line for the first-team snaps in Tuesday's practice --  would go a long way towards determining if the California gunslinger got the call against the Commordores.

I really won't know until we start practicing to see how he can take a snap, how accurately he can throw it, and then he's going to have a learning curve because he's been out of ball for five, six weeks. That's a long time, so we'll see," Dooley said. "We've still got to get the other guys ready to play and we'll just kind of take it day by day."

With all due respect to "the other guys," since Bray's injury those other guys -- Matt Simms and true freshman Justin Worley -- have combined to complete just 43 percent of their passes against SEC teams, for all of 5.2 yards an attempt and a 0-to-6 touchdown-to-interception ratio. If Bray can't take the field Saturday, a dangerous 'Dore secondary could easily ensure the Vols stay home for the holidays.

In short: this week is as a big a week of practice for Dooley since his arrival in early 2010, and it all rests on how well that thumb responds.

 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com