Simms' confidence going up

Transfer, Bray to get more of Stephens' work with first team

Matt Simms spent Tuesday evening answering questions.

The first round of queries came from reporters wondering how the Tennessee quarterback felt about receiving more first-team snaps this week in practice.

The second round came from his father, former Super Bowl MVP quarterback Phil Simms, who wondered if his son was keeping up the good work.

Phil Simms, who is now a football analyst with CBS, calls after most every practice. At times it's been creepy how soon he'll call after another UT workout.

There's been good news to report to the Simms family this week. UT's coaches awarded the junior with more work with the first team while freshman Tyler Bray will get more first- and second-team work.

And while no one is writing off any of the quarterbacks vying for the open positions, the message sent Tuesday was clear: senior Nick Stephens isn't unbeatable.

"It's a very tight battle. If this was a race, Usain Bolt wouldn't be in it," receiver Gerald Jones said, referring to the Olympic champion who regularly dominates other competitors. "It would be a neck-and-neck race."

Stephens had worked mainly with the first team until Tuesday, a day after UT's three top quarterbacks were told of the change in rotation.

"We're going to keep varying the reps so they all get equal opportunity," coach Derek Dooley said after practice.

Simms has won over some of his teammates, especially Jones, who appreciates how the transfer from El Camino Community College in Torrance, Calif., carries himself.

"I played for (former UT quarterbacks Erik) Ainge and (Jonathan) Crompton and he's a totally different quarterback," Jones said. "He has a different demeanor about himself. His swagger is positive. He's confident in himself and he's confident in the players around him."

That's quite a change for Simms, who admitted to confidence issues in the past amid the time he transferred from Louisville in 2009 to junior college.

Simms said he used to be a bit hard on himself after making a mistake. That changed thanks to some fatherly advice, the morale of which was to play fast, be confident and have fun.

"Be decisive," Simms said, recalling his dad's lessons. "Be confident even though you don't know exactly what you're doing. Just roll with it."

Then, there was some of the wide-ranging advice he received from his brother, Chris Simms, who is a backup quarterback for the Denver Broncos.

"You stink. You're good. You've got to get better," Matt Simms said with a smile as he rattled off snippets of conversations with his brother.

There's no doubt that all three quarterbacks could use improvement. Stephens is the only player with any SEC experience and he only has six career starts, all in 2008.

Stephens wasn't available for comment because of an evening class, but the shakeup has to be disconcerting, even if it's uplifting for Stephens' competitors. The sudden move with just two weeks left in spring practice proves that UT's new coaching staff isn't married to seniority.

"It definitely shows that they're watching and they're not afraid to make changes," said Simms, who will be a junior this season.

More changes might be afoot if Bray continues to develop now that he has a better supporting cast around him.

Bray was 8-of-13 for 69 yards, a touchdown and an interception in last Thursday's scrimmage. Stephens was 3-of-9 for 6 yards. Simms was 6-of-20 for 83 yards, a touchdown and an interception.

"(The stats) really did (stand out), and he's performing well," Dooley said of Bray, who enrolled at UT in January. "He hadn't had the same supporting cast, so he's really doing it with a tougher group around him. But he also doesn't have the same guys coming at him on defense.

"We're going to get him with some of the better guys and see if he can keep going."

Simms shared a short-term goal with the reporters asking questions on Tuesday, he'd like to start the Orange and White Game on April 17. But even if he does, he knows that won't mean much.

"I'm happy that I am getting more reps," Simms said, "but at the same time, we have a long way to go before we play our first game against Tennessee-Martin."

Austin Ward contributed to this report.

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Comments » 85

RaineyVol writes:

keep it up

bspurlingcac#225603 writes:

Three competitors will make the one starter tougher and the backup more ready to step in if needed. Go Vols!!!

Cldvols1 writes:

Whoever it is may the right young man win. Go Vols!!!

TitanandVolfan4life writes:

CDD is being very fair and extremely diligent to do a thorough evaluation under every situation and giving every QB time to work with the number 1's so that no stone is left unturned to be 100% certain exactly what they have at the QB position.

I love the wide open competition for every spot which will make all of them work harder and become better with CDD pushing all of them hard and demanding excellence.

I believe the O & W game and our 1st game of the season will be very vanilla and we won't see the real playbook getting opened much until we're facing Oregon just so they won't have much on tape to evaluate us by and try to plan against us.

All through the season I believe we'll see more and more of the CDD/Cheney secret playbook opened up with well planned surprises for every team we play.

GO BIG ORANGE !!!

OrangePsyched writes:

I think Simms starts because of that swagger. If Jones sees this you can bet the rest of the team and Dooley see it. Leadership is as vital as talent. Bray will be a Heisman candidate eventually, but I believe Simms will get us the grind it out wins in the immediate. Heard Dooley say that they are finding good talent here with good talent coming in. He is beginning to sound more optimistic for the now. I'm getting the vibe that this will be a team in the sense of selling out to each other to get the job done and exceed everyone's expectations. O/W game will give us a glimpse I hope.

CroKev writes:

in response to BamaBeacher:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Hey, did you read the Australian Prime Minister's "redneck" comment about Alabama yesterday? You folks evidently have an international reputation! ;-)

pdhuff#552644 writes:

Good to see them all getting a honest chance.

My confidence could go up a little, too.

HallowedHill writes:

Let the best man win.

GO VOLS!

PumpGuy writes:

If things are close in the Fall, I hope we see Bray in the starting role. It would seem to me a senior or even a junior, no matter what the system, should be way ahead of a freshman.

allntl1#565211 writes:

in response to BamaBeacher:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Hey, what time does WalMart open?

easleychuck writes:

in response to DC_10point0:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Break time is over so back on your head, little troll.

TommyJack writes:

in response to DC_10point0:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

TommyJack would need SOLID protection.

feathersax writes:

in response to BamaBeacher:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

bama troll...your posts are filled with hate for the Vols. Fine, 'cause you just might choke on your own one-syllable words.

feathersax writes:

in response to DC_10point0:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Don't you share a crackerbox condo with bama beacher down on Troll Lane? Cute couple, y'all.

OrangeCrush writes:

Good move CDD. This only makes the players and team better by opening up the competition. May the best man win!

Long_Time_Vols_Fan writes:

Simms and Bray seem like better choices than Stephens if they are close. We'd only get one year out of Stephens and then we're back to a QB with little playing time, as I don't see the non starter getting much playing time this year...Two from Simms, two for Bray to develop, then two from him.....

utvolz#637682 writes:

"the morale of which was to play fast"

Morale or moral? Whoever edits these before going to print needs to be fired...

bobbarbilly writes:

in response to DC_10point0:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

In bama land, "stiff" is a neck reference because of both the stretching of the neck to peep into UT practices and the innate inability to properly swallow their Viagra.

yabadabadoo1026 writes:

sounds like a questionalbe offensive scheme for there to me but 6 yard on 3 completes-------hope this OC isnt an advocate of the boring and often ineffective dink and dunk ala Cutcliff

Volmania writes:

Bray, Bray, Bray...He is talented and will only continue to get better with more experience. If it's close than he might have the best shot as he has more upside. If the job really comes down to who performs best, I think he will win the job. Plus, that would be sweet to have a returning QB with experience for the next few years.

bobbarbilly writes:

in response to DC_10point0:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Too late to try to associate PM with bama trolls.He passed on y-all years ago.

99gator writes:

folks.....

nick stephens did not beat out crompton. i'm talking about the crompton you saw against ucla and florida in 9/09. that crompton.

and when kiffin saw that crompton up close in personal in 9/09 and was asked about a qb change......he stuck with that crompton.

that crompton did improve. however, that is the guy stephens could not beat out.

GerryOP writes:

in response to 99gator:

folks.....

nick stephens did not beat out crompton. i'm talking about the crompton you saw against ucla and florida in 9/09. that crompton.

and when kiffin saw that crompton up close in personal in 9/09 and was asked about a qb change......he stuck with that crompton.

that crompton did improve. however, that is the guy stephens could not beat out.

You could be right 99, this appears to be the 3rd coaching staff that looks at Stephens and says "Ahhhh, no ... I don't think so."

Sad for the Nickster, but, given a choice, better to invest in a guy with more than one year of availability.

150 -- Fear the Dooley Dude...

rbhobbs73#226545 writes:

in response to 99gator:

folks.....

nick stephens did not beat out crompton. i'm talking about the crompton you saw against ucla and florida in 9/09. that crompton.

and when kiffin saw that crompton up close in personal in 9/09 and was asked about a qb change......he stuck with that crompton.

that crompton did improve. however, that is the guy stephens could not beat out.

I think that pretty much sums up Stephens....it appears that 3 separate coaching staffs all see the same thing...

Look, they are all Vols, so I don't have a favorite. I just want the best one in there, no matter class or upside, or whatever. I want to win games THIS year.

usnavyvolfaninva_still_getting_paid writes:

in response to CroKev:

Hey, did you read the Australian Prime Minister's "redneck" comment about Alabama yesterday? You folks evidently have an international reputation! ;-)

The main difference, of course, being that Aussie women are much hotter and have a full set of teeth.

usnavyvolfaninva_still_getting_paid writes:

this article just seems to me a long drawn-out way of saying that the QB job is still open.

usnavyvolfaninva_still_getting_paid writes:

in response to DC_10point0:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

I don't get it.... I wish KNS had a filter for bad jokes.

usnavyvolfaninva_still_getting_paid writes:

in response to 99gator:

folks.....

nick stephens did not beat out crompton. i'm talking about the crompton you saw against ucla and florida in 9/09. that crompton.

and when kiffin saw that crompton up close in personal in 9/09 and was asked about a qb change......he stuck with that crompton.

that crompton did improve. however, that is the guy stephens could not beat out.

3 different coaching staffs can't be wrong.

Ayres_Hall writes:

Where is Lamaison?

ReverendOrange writes:

Let's hope Phil Simms doesn't hover around a la Craig James at Texas Tech. Too many cooks........

tnsportsman writes:

in response to OrangePsyched:

I think Simms starts because of that swagger. If Jones sees this you can bet the rest of the team and Dooley see it. Leadership is as vital as talent. Bray will be a Heisman candidate eventually, but I believe Simms will get us the grind it out wins in the immediate. Heard Dooley say that they are finding good talent here with good talent coming in. He is beginning to sound more optimistic for the now. I'm getting the vibe that this will be a team in the sense of selling out to each other to get the job done and exceed everyone's expectations. O/W game will give us a glimpse I hope.

Good Post justsayn! Leadership is always a major part of any team!

IMO just make sense with Simms and Bray as the short term (Simms) and long term (Bray) for the future!

This team will play tough, smart, hard and with a chip on their shoulder! That wins football games!

GO VOLS!

always_vol (Inactive) writes:

This is a strangely written article:
-"times it's been creepy how soon he'll call"; Why??? Maybe he has a practice schedule taped on the fridge??

-"he sudden move with just two weeks left in spring practice"; well, spring ball is about 4 weeks long. At any point, you can use the word 'only' in referring to time.

The gist of this seems to be 1) Nick is being a world-beater and 2) the other guys are getting shots, basically in chronological order.

usnavyvolfaninva_still_getting_paid writes:

Guess Dave called ahead to get into practice! lol.

VolGrad writes:

in response to yabadabadoo1026:

sounds like a questionalbe offensive scheme for there to me but 6 yard on 3 completes-------hope this OC isnt an advocate of the boring and often ineffective dink and dunk ala Cutcliff

What are you talking about? You pull out Nick Stephens stats from his worse day at practice, and suggest that will be typical of our offense this year. Idiotic.

Then you make a crack about former OC Cutcliffe's offenses being ineffective while his teams consistently averaged over 30 points a game?

I'll assume you are simply ignorant.

OrangePsyched writes:

Seriously, did anyone else here the CNN report that statistics say that most married couples in Alabama met their spouses at a family reunion? DC and Farragut are products of these marriages. I am glad they spend so much time on the site though because between serious football discussions it's nice to have a laugh now and again. If we were irrelevant they wouldn't be on our blog site. If you're scared...say you're scared. As I said before, I think Simms starts because it seems the starters are really getting behind him. It's early but I believe these guys have already made their choice and the coaches see it. However, if Bray clearly separates himself from the pack that can change.

TommyJack writes:

The reports of Nick's demise may be a bit premature. Wouldn't want to bet based on most of you mopes predictions.

volpreacher writes:

in response to BamaBeacher:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

He will run all the way to the dressing room after beating Alabama this year. And I can't wait.

usnavyvolfaninva_still_getting_paid writes:

in response to VolGrad:

What are you talking about? You pull out Nick Stephens stats from his worse day at practice, and suggest that will be typical of our offense this year. Idiotic.

Then you make a crack about former OC Cutcliffe's offenses being ineffective while his teams consistently averaged over 30 points a game?

I'll assume you are simply ignorant.

Yeah, I was kind of wondering about that... maybe he meant to say Clawson.

nola_vol writes:

in response to usnavyvolfaninva_still_getting_paid:

I don't get it.... I wish KNS had a filter for bad jokes.

I wish KNS had an online translator for 'Bama postings.

1 grunt = "no"
2 grunts = "yes"

It gets pretty nuanced after that...

FearTheVols1252 writes:

in response to DC_10point0:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

You can be a real jackarse, but I got to admit... that made me laugh.

DenverVol writes:

Not that this really proves anything new about the lack of research Hooker and the rest of KNS does (or is it doesn't do), but Chris Simms has been out of job for a while. He got cut by the Broncos when they traded for Quinn. Not sure if he's been picked...I'm not paid to do research for KNS's articles.

On another note, all the bashing the OL is taking for being wet behind the ears, IMO, is only going to serve as motivation. They've got the size, the talent, and now definitely the coach. They may turn out to be the best OL in the SEC before the season's over. I never played OL but seems to me, during my playing days, the OL always worked best off negative trash.

Go Vols!

RollTideJoe writes:

in response to CroKev:

Hey, did you read the Australian Prime Minister's "redneck" comment about Alabama yesterday? You folks evidently have an international reputation! ;-)

Well, we don't have a fight song singing about moonshine stills and no telephone bills. Listen to what people say about you.

RollTideJoe writes:

in response to volpreacher:

He will run all the way to the dressing room after beating Alabama this year. And I can't wait.

Wouldn't bet the farm on that one, fella.

volsn3 writes:

You think the VOLS were lucky in 98...It makes me sick to think about them "arm pits". And Colt McCoy would have destroyed the TIDE...But lets face it a little luck and the BIG ORANGE may go all the way this coming year...Face it BAMA turds....You were lucky

givehim6 writes:

For whichever gits the starting job Nick or Matt CDD might want to put Bray in the 2ND half of the UTM game, because Nick and Matt have both played football at the collage leavel Bray hasn't. It would be better for him to get his feet wet vs UTM than say UF, Bama or UGA.

OrangeSwarm61 writes:

in response to RollTideJoe:

Well, we don't have a fight song singing about moonshine stills and no telephone bills. Listen to what people say about you.

Envy will get you no where, Joe.

GreerVol22 writes:

in response to FreeTDTN:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Patrons pick their nose too, but Dupree was picking his nose with his middle finger...I think that was the flaw in his plan..

bobbarbilly writes:

in response to RollTideJoe:

Well, we don't have a fight song singing about moonshine stills and no telephone bills. Listen to what people say about you.

And I sympathize with you but honestly, " every bama man's behind you" gives me a weird feeling and " pluck and grit " sounds like a bama menu item involving chicken and a single piece of hominy.

mj2454#655272 writes:

Aside from jokes about serving bacon bits at Wendy's, does anyone know the real story about why Lamaison is never even mentioned in stories about our QBs? Has he left the team, did he do something to get on Chaney's s**t list? Just puzzling that there is never any mention of him in QB articles.

AtLeastMyTeamHasPerfectSeasons writes:

in response to DC_10point0:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Because "You know when it's real!"

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