Nothing is final.
Derek Dooley is also adamant that he’ll need two quarterbacks to make it through the season.
But after one scrimmage, the Tennessee coach hasn’t seen anything that would make him realign his depth chart. Tyler Bray may have posted better numbers during the closed workout on Tuesday night at Neyland Stadium, but the starting job under center for the Vols still appears to belong to Matt Simms.
“They’re both really doing well and they’re both different,” Dooley said. “I think ultimately we’re going to evaluate them on how well we move the ball and score points, it doesn’t matter how we get there. They’re different, they’re different. Tyler does some things better than Matt. Matt does some things better than Tyler.
“I think Matt stays ahead at this stage of the game because of his experience and his knowledge of the offense and his command, those sort of things. But we’re going to need both of them, I’m just going to tell you right now. ”
For the moment it still looks as if Simms will be the first one up for the Vols, though his 9-for-21 passing performance for 80 yards and a touchdown clearly isn’t the sole determining factor.
The junior-college transfer actually lost a statistical battle to Bray according to numbers provided by UT, with the true freshman completing 11 of his 22 attempts for 153 yards and a long scoring strike to Denarius Moore to keep pace with Simms.
“You can never be comfortable, especially the way that we practice and the way that we compete with each other,” Simms said. “Every day I get a little better, Tyler gets a little better and even (freshman) Nash Nance gets a little better. We need to continue to push each other so we can help move this offense forward.
“I thought as an offense today we really did well, we really executed the run game really well and the young offensive line is really coming around. There’s not much to compare with (personally) because I didn’t play well in the Orange and White game. So, definitely improved, definitely getting better with some of the smaller details of our offense and I feel good about today. But it’s a small steppingstone.”
The Vols still have several more of them to take before the season opener against UT Martin on Sept. 4, and Dooley doesn’t appear to be in a rush to name an official starter this early in camp.
And with both quarterbacks playing well and Tauren Poole leading a strong running game by breaking huge runs virtually every time he steps on the field, there’s no real reason for Dooley to make a final decision.
“Matt had a very good day running the offense, hit some big third downs to Denarius,” Dooley said. “Tyler Bray had a good day. He had some series with the ones and hit a big third down to (Mychal) Rivera, hit a long touchdown to Denarius, so I was real pleased with the progress the quarterbacks are making.
“They’re both good players, we’re going to need both of them and I’m happy with where they are. Doesn’t mean we’re ready to go play with them, but I said this in the spring, all I care about is seeing (progress). I just don’t want to see the dip.”
Dooley didn’t see one from either quarterback during the first big test of the fall. The status quo still leaves Simms on top.