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Tag:Tyler Bray
Posted on: December 17, 2010 4:32 pm
 

Ex-Volunteer Aaron Douglas signs with Alabama

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

It's hard to criticize much about the first year of Derek Dooley's tenure at Tennessee. After the sudden departure of Lane Kiffin from Knoxville and Dooley's whirwind hire, he still managed to hire a well-respected staff, salvage an impressive recruiting class, and drag the least-experienced Volunteer team in years to a bowl game behind rapidly-developing quarterback Tyler Bray.

Perhaps the only truly debatable decision Dooley has made has been to play hardball with a handful of Volunteers who asked for transfer requests in the wake of Kiffin's departure, notably former No. 1 overall recruit Bryce Brown and former freshman All-America lineman Aaron Douglas. Dooley denied Brown his release, apparently keeping him off scholarship at his hometown Kansas State program, and responded to Douglas's claims that he needed to get away from certain influences in Knoxville by granting him a waiver only on the condition that Douglas transfer somewhere eight hours' drive or further away. Those highly unusual steps -- taken to "protect the program " in Dooley's words -- may have successfuly sent the message that any future Volunteers who wish to transfer will need to be in good standing with Dooley ahead of time, but it also created a good deal of enmity between the program and Brown and Douglas.

Now that enmity may be coming home to roost in Douglas's case. After spending this season at community college Arizona Western, Douglas has transferred back into the SEC, and at the last school Vol supporters would want: Alabama.

For his part, Dooley says he's happy that Douglas has landed on his feet:

"First of all, I wanted to release him," Dooley said after practice this morning. "I didn't want to deny a release, which is what we normally do. I thought he needed to get away, and I thought it was good for our team that he wasn't close by, too.

"I thought everybody benefited, that we just get away from the deal for a little bit and I think it worked out well for our team and it worked out well for Aaron. Everybody should be happy."

But to hear Douglas say that he didn't originally want to play against Tennessee but that "the stipulations with my release opened up everything," it doesn't take a whole lot of reading between the lines to see that responding in kind to Dooley's less-than-accomodating decision was a motivating factor in his choice of new school.

If so, then certainly Douglas is opening himself up to his own charges of pettiness. But that wouldn't change the fact that if Dooley had simply approved a standard release, Douglas likely would have ended up somewhere that wasn't Tuscaloosa. Maybe the message sent to future potential transferees was worth it, but if Douglas plays a role in maintaining the Crimson Tide's recent success in the series (and judging by his play in his one season on Rocky Top, he does), it will have to be asked of Dooley if, maybe, it wasn't.
Posted on: November 13, 2010 11:06 pm
 

What I learned from the SEC (Nov. 13)

Posted by Tom Fornelli

1. South Carolina and Auburn will battle for the SEC title in Atlanta. It's official, even though the game is three weeks away, we know that no matter what happens from here on out, South Carolina and Auburn are headed to Atlanta to square off for the SEC Championship.  It'll be the first time since 2004 that the game didn't feature Florida, Alabama or LSU.   Coincidentally, that's also the last time Auburn played in the game, beating Tennessee 38-28.

2. Sources tell me Cam Newton is still awesome.   Distractions?  What the hell is a distraction?  Cam Newton sure didn't play like a kid who spent the last week dealing with the media circus surrounding his NCAA investigation.  Newton finished the day with 299 total yards and four touchdowns during Auburn's 49-31 win over Georgia.

3. I worry about Marcus Lattimore's future. Listen, I totally understand why Steve Spurrier and South Carolina choose to ride Lattimore's back.  The kid is a beast, and he completely changes the Gamecocks offense.  Still, when I see him get 41 carries on Saturday night -- along with 38 against Georgia earlier this season -- I do worry that he'll be worn out by the end of his college career.  We've all seen in the past at places like Wisconsin what happens to running backs who carry the ball hundreds of times in their college career when they get to the NFL.  I just hope Lattimore doesn't suffer the same fate.

4. The Cam Newton Saga seemed to have a bigger effect on Mississippi State.
  Newton played like Cam Newton against Georgia, but Mississippi State played like a team that should have coughed up the dough on Saturday night.  Sure, Alabama -- a ticked off Alabama team at that -- had a lot to do with it, but the Bulldogs didn't look very good in their 30-10 loss.

5. Tennessee has its quarterback. Who would have thought back in September or early October that Tennessee would have a chance to go bowling this season?  I certainly didn't, but thanks to the continued rise of Tyler Bray and his back tattoo, the Vols have played incredibly well the last few weeks.  Bray threw for 323 yards and 3 touchdowns as Tennessee destroyed Ole Miss 52-14.  Now, if the Vols can manage to win their last two games against Vanderbilt and Kentucky -- which isn't all that crazy -- they'll finish the season 6-6 and be bowl eligible.

6. Florida's offense is still terrible.
  Listen, you may have been fooled by seeing Florida score 41 points against Vanderbilt last week, and some pollsters might have been as well, but I wasn't.  An offense that has struggled all season did so again on Saturday night, managing a paltry 226 yards and 14 points against a Gamecocks defense that gave up 24 points to Tennessee, and 31 to Kentucky.  If Steve Addazzio survives this season, then somebody is going to burn Gainesville to the ground.
Posted on: November 13, 2010 2:14 pm
Edited on: November 13, 2010 2:32 pm
 

Masoli passes injury test, Nutt wishes he hadn't

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

Jeremiah Masoli was listed as an injury question mark all week after a head injury suffered in last week's win over UL-Lafayette , with the consensus wisdom being that the Rebels wouldn't have much of a chance on the road at Tennessee . So it appeared to be good news for the Rebels when Masoli was cleared to play and took the field in Knoxville.

In practice, though, the Rebels might have been better off simply going with backup Nathan Stanley . Masoli has suffered through a miserable first half, going 6-of-15 for just 72 yards (4.8 yards-per-attempt), rushing for just 15 yards on 6 attempts, and throwing one interception without a touchdown. That interception wasn't your garden-variety pick, either -- it was a horrific duck into the flat that Tennessee's Eric Gordon gratefully plucked with ease and returned 46 yards for a Vol score. Several other makeable quick throws have sailed on him in ugly fashion. A big first half for Rebel running back Branden Bolden (81 yards on 8 carries, two touchdowns) has kept Ole Miss from being run out of Neyland Stadium, but at this point he's the only thing the Ole Miss offense has going for it.

To be fair, Masoli hasn't been the Rebels' only problem; the eminently flammable Rebel secondary has been torched by Tyler Bray (yes, that Tyler Bray, the fencepost-thin true freshman) for 265 yards and three touchdowns. Giving up 24 offensive points in a half to the usually-low-fi Volunteer offense has to be a performance every bit as disappointing for Houston Nutt as his quarterbacks'.

But whether the greater share of blame falls on the defense or Masoli doesn't much matter: either way Tennessee has a 31-14 lead at halftime and barring a total collapse by the thin Volunteer defense, it's going to be the home team taking another critical step towards bowl eligibility.

UPDATE, 1:31 EST: And Masoli begins the second half by throwing another abomination of a pick-six, an easy lob well above his receiver's head and returned 10 yards for the Vol score. 38-14, and the Rebels now appear done.
Posted on: November 2, 2010 12:31 pm
 

Tyler Bray to start for Vols vs. Memphis

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

Yesterday on "As the World of the Tennessee Volunteers Turns," quarterback Matt Simms essentially called out both his coaches for replacing him in the second half of a loss to South Carolina and his backup, freshman Tyler Bray , for a pivotal Gamecock pick-six.

But with Bray recovering nicely from that play to lead a second-half charge and the coaches no doubt none too pleased with Simms' outburst, it's no surprise that today's development is that Bray is now your starting Volunteer quarterback :
“We’re going to start Tyler Bray this week, and I just feel like that’s the best thing for our team right now,” [head coach Derek] Dooley said during his weekly press conference. “The plan is going to be exactly how I went into the South Carolina game, which was, let’s see how he’s doing. If he needs to take a few series to kind of catch his breath a little bit, we’ll put Matt in and see how Matt does.
If that sounds on the charitable side for Simms given his statements to the press, rest assured that Dooley was certainly paying attention (emphasis added):

“Until a quarterback says, ‘Coach, you’re an idiot for not playing me all four quarters,’ by his play and not his words , then we’ll just keep sorting through it. Neither has had actions that say, ‘Play me for four quarters.’ There’s enough in both of their play to say maybe you should put the other guy in a little bit.
If you're Bray, there's never been a better opportunity to make those "actions" on the field; this Saturday's opponent is rock-bottom Conference USA outfit Memphis , the 119th-ranked (out of 120, recall) defense in the FBS. Dooley may be giving Simms the benefit of the doubt for now, but by giving Bray the opportunity to grab the kind of momentum that the hapless Tigers can offer, he's also likely betraying which of his two quarterbacks he'd prefer to see carry the baton the rest of the way.

At right: Bray's tattoo.

Posted on: November 1, 2010 12:38 pm
Edited on: November 1, 2010 12:42 pm
 

Matt Simms is one unhappy camper

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

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 ...

"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."
Believe it or not, there's more :

"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.

"It wasn't like I dropped back and threw it back to the other team."

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.

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.

 








Posted on: October 30, 2010 11:29 pm
Edited on: October 30, 2010 11:32 pm
 

What I learned from the SEC (Oct.30)

Posted by Tom Fornelli

1. The SEC East will be decided on November 13. A few weeks ago the SEC was up for grabs with just about every team in the division still in contention to win it.  Now, after Saturday's events, only two teams remain.  With their wins on Saturday, only South Carolina and Florida have a realistic shot, and they play in Gainesville in two weeks.  Florida has Vanderbilt before that, which they should win, and while South Carolina has a tough test with Arkansas next week, they can withstand one more loss.  Either way, the winner of that game on the 13th is going to Atlanta.

2. Auburn cares not for the BCS curse.   Oklahoma couldn't overcome it last week, and some folks wondered if Auburn would be the next #1 team in the BCS to suffer a loss, but it didn't happen this week.  The Tigers took care of Ole Miss 51-31 on Saturday night in Oxford, and the Cam Newton Heisman Locomotive kept on barreling down the tracks.  In fact, Newton decided he was tired of merely passing and running for touchdowns, so he decided to catch one this week as well.

3. Tennessee found a new quarterback.   And his name is Tyler Bray.   The freshman saw his first action last week, and came on in relief of Matt Simms against South Carolina this week as well, and it looks like he may have wrestled the starting job away.  Bray was far from perfect for the Vols, but he did throw for 159 yards and two touchdowns, getting the Vols back into the game before South Carolina pulled away late. Considering that Bray is the future for Tennessee, and the Vols have nothing left to play for, it only makes sense to roll with Bray the rest of the way.

4. Aaron Murray is going to be very good one day.  It's just not going to be this season.  At times on Saturday, Murray made fantastic plays to help lead Georgia back from a 21-10 deficit and force overtime against Florida.  Unfortunately, he also turned the ball over four times, including the back breaker in overtime.  Even so, Murray showed the kind of flashes on Saturday that have to make Georgia fans very optimistic about the future.

5. Chas Henry will rest peacefully tonight. I've felt incredibly sympathetic for Florida punter Chas Henry this season.  He's had to fill in for an injured Caleb Sturgis, and has missed a few huge kicks for the Gators, including one that led to a loss against Mississippi State.   Still, he made a very big one on Saturday night, nailing a 37-yarder to win the game in overtime.

Posted on: October 30, 2010 3:43 pm
Edited on: October 30, 2010 3:44 pm
 

Carolina survives, pressure on Gators, Dawgs

Posted on Jerry Hinnen

For once, it appears that the famed late-season "Chicken Curse" afflicting South Carolina -- which seemed to rear its ugly head in the first half of their match-up with Tennessee -- has passed the Gamecocks by, for at least a week. If any team was cursed in the second half, it was Tennessee, who 1. lost fumbles on two of their first three possessions of the half, including a muffed punt 2. saw Tyler Bray throw a simple pick-six on the other possession early in the half 3. had a punt bounce off the leg of a Carolina player setting up a punt return ... directly into the arms of a second Gamecock player.

Ultimately, though, it's not luck that has players like Alshon Jeffery and Marcus Lattimore on the Gamecock roster, and it was those two who made the difference. Jeffery turned a routine 10-yard slant route into a 70-yard touchdown after Bray had tied the game at 24 with a rope of a touchdown to Denarius Moore , giving Carolina a 31-24 lead. Lattimore made sure it stood up, punishing the Vols on an 8-play, 77-yard touchdown drive that sealed the win. Tennessee can feel good about Bray's surprising performance (9-of-15, 2 TDs) and that they didn't fold when Carolina appeared to take control of the game in the third quarter, but the team with Jeffery and Lattimore was always going to be the better team today.

As a result, the pressure is on Georgia and Florida -- with Carolina's win, it's official that the loser of today's World's Largest Cocktail Party is out of the SEC East race . For the Dawgs and Gators, it's win, or go metaphorically home.

Posted on: October 25, 2010 1:22 pm
 

Matt Simms doesn't enjoy sharing snaps

Posted by Tom Fornelli

In an effort to shake things up with his offense, Tennessee head coach Derek Dooley decided to give freshman Tyler Bray some snaps during practice last week and during Tennessee's loss to Alabama on Saturday night.  Obviously, considering the Vols only managed to score 10 points and gain 315 yards of offense in their 31-10 loss, not much changed with the two-quarterback system.

In fact, Bray struggled quite a bit, completing only 5-of-14 passes for 39 yards and an interception.  The man he took snaps away from, Matt Simms, didn't fare that much better, completing only 12-of-22 passes for 117 yards and throwing an interception of his own.  Still, Simms' performance was better than Bray's, and the junior quarterback thinks things would have gone a bit better had he been left in the game.

"I knew the plan going into the game was to get [Bray] a few drives or whatever," Simms said. "By the way things were going in the game at that moment, I really didn't think that I was going to get taken out -- later on in the game maybe. They stayed true to their plan, and I respect that, and I thank them for being honest with me, but at the same time those drives right there, I feel like I need to be out there, because I feel like I'm missing out on plays that could have been made or penalties that could have been avoided."

Simms did go on to say that he appreciated the coaches honesty in the whole situation, but that when it comes to sharing time with Bray that the coaches "know how I feel about that." 

It's easy to understand where Simms is coming from, because no quarterback who has spent the entire year as the team's starter is going to enjoy suddenly sharing snaps.  Especially when the team is losing.  Still, it's because Tennessee is losing that Simms needs to get over it.

While he hasn't gotten much help from his offensive line at all this season, Simms hasn't been very good.  He's thrown nearly as many interceptions (5) as he has touchdowns (7) on the year.  Obviously, Matt Simms: Full-Time Quarterback hasn't been a winning formula for the Vols.  So mixing in Tyler Bray, whom the coaching staff hopes can be the quarterback of the future, can only help in the long run.

So while Simms may not like sharing snaps, he should probably get used to it.  Then, when he is on the field, play so well that the coaches can't take him off the field.
 
 
 
 
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