Know your Vols - Matt Simms: Junior, quarterback
Matt Simms can handle the playbook and the huddle.
The Tennessee quarterback has also proven he can operate the offense without turning the ball over.
But coach Derek Dooley won't call Simms simply a game-manager though, because that backhanded compliment undersells his ability to do more than just avoid mistakes.
"I don't know why people view that (being a game-manager) as a negative," Dooley said Monday. "I think it's because people say it sometimes when a guy can't throw it a lick, when he can just hand the ball off real well. That's not what I mean.
"Matt's got a really strong arm. He makes throws that not a lot of guys can make. His game management is just a lot better than Tyler (Bray's) right now."
That difference has separated the junior college transfer from the true freshman, with Simms making the contrast even more clear by the end of UT's third and final scrimmage on Saturday afternoon.
Simms had a ball tipped at the line and intercepted by Gerald Williams, but that marked his only turnover in the game-like situations - and he claimed there haven't even been other close calls. On the flip side, Bray has struggled with the pressure of leading the offense and was apparently on the hook for four interceptions in the closed workout, effectively ending a race that Simms has led since spring.
"One is definitely good, but the whole key to that is just never turning the ball over," Simms said. "But I've come along way since spring, especially since in the spring I was probably throwing one (interception) every day. So, to come out there and just to throw one the entire camp in scrimmages so far, that's good.
"That's my mindset every day - just control the football, manage the offense. That was my demon, definitely, in the spring. Something that I was always trying to conquer over the summertime was just not forcing footballs, especially because I'm not in junior college anymore and I can't just throw into double-coverage and stuff like that because I have a strong arm. People in this conference will pick it off and laugh on the way to the end zone."
The Vols weren't able to do that much against Simms during camp, and that was perhaps one of the biggest factors as Dooley determined who would take the snaps when the season opens against UT Martin.
And now that he appears to have settled on a starter, Dooley will be expecting similar turnover numbers when they really matter.
"(One turnover) is good, and I hope we can say that at the end of the year - though we probably won't be able to," Dooley said. "That's the key though, and I've talked to Matt about that a lot. Coming out of the spring my biggest concern was our ability to protect the football. If we don't protect it we won't beat anybody on the schedule, I can tell you that right now.
"If we do protect it and don't turn the ball over, we'll have a chance. He's really responded to that part, and he's done so in a way (that) it's not like he's shutting it down and playing super-conservative. He's still trying to make aggressive throws, he's just doing it in better situations."
That's obviously part of being a productive game-manager. But the Vols aren't going to limit Simms by saddling him with a label.