Even in their 38-24 defeat at South Carolina , Tennessee had a lot of things to be happy about Saturday: the resilience the young Vols showed on the road, a second-half comeback instead of a second-half collapse, the surprisingly effective performances (give or take a critical, game-changing turnover) from quarterbacks Matt Simms and Tyler Bray .
But if you're Simms himself, all those other positives don't matter nearly as much (if at all) as the fact that they end with "and Tyler Bray." The JUCO transfer apparently didn't intend on splitting snaps when he signed on with Tennessee, even after committing a pair of costly fumbles, and he's not making any attempt to hide it :
"I had no idea that I was going to get taken out of the game for [a fumble]. I was playing really well. Extremely well. Probably the best game I've played all year. It's rough but hey, they made a decision and they stuck with it ...Believe it or not, there's more :
"I wish I could say that I'm definitely the starting quarterback. It's unfortunate they took me out. I felt like I played really well. I feel like I could have made all those throws because we had guys wide open down the middle of the field. I feel like I'm a good enough quarterback to make those plays and I'm just still upset that I got taken out like that."
"Nothing much I can do about getting hit in the back and the guy stripping the ball from me," Simms said. "That's one of the better defensive lines in the conference. Hey, if you get hit a lot the ball comes out.The person who did "drop back and throw it to the other team"? That would be Bray. It's tough to get much more insubordinate than this in the press, or more dismissive of your teammate ... a teammate that, pick-six aside, did go an impressive 9-of-15 for 159 yards and a pair of scores. If Bray's capable of playing that well, it's impossible to blame Derek Dooley for getting the quarterback of the Vols' future some in-game repetitions now.
"It wasn't like I dropped back and threw it back to the other team."
So it's hardly taking a bold stance to say that Simms should clam up in front of reporters, work on his ball security, and take whatever complaints he has directly to his coaches. Between the 0-5 SEC record, the freshman defensive end arrested on assault charges , and the defensive issues that led to the 38 Carolina points, Dooley has enough to worry about right now without having to muzzle one of his players in the press. The way Bray has played, at this point, it would be an equally un-bold stance on Dooley's part to sit Simms for this week's date at Memphis in response.