Tennessee Stat Book
Tennessee wide receiver Gerald Jones flashed a bittersweet smile when he was reminded that freshman quarterback Tyler Bray can certainly hold his own when throwing the deep ball.
"I don't know how much I'm excited because they won't throw the ball to me down the field," Jones said. "They'll only throw it to Justin (Hunter) and Denarius (Moore)."
Jones, though, was in the minority of players and coaches who believe the UT offense will all of a sudden morph into a big-fly attack. That's good news for the receiver who's made his biggest impact felt on third downs with short, important catches and bad news for those who assume UT will usher in a new-look attack Saturday (TV: CBS College Sports, 8 p.m.) at Memphis.
Aside from a few tweaks here and there because of Bray's knowledge of the system, UT's offense will look identical with Bray at quarterback as it did with Matt Simms behind center, offensive coordinator Jim Chaney said Wednesday.
Chaney said Bray's ability to hit receivers downfield with accurate throws is "no bigger than Matt's."
Quarterbacks coach Darin Hinshaw defended Simms' arm strength, too, saying there are far more important areas to direct his focus toward in Bray's first start.
"We're going to game-plan," Hinshaw said. "They've got to make the right reads, right decisions. It's the same thing, whether Tyler's the starter or not.
"Right now, Tyler is going to start it off and we want him to make the right decisions and right throws."
Chaney said the learning curve won't be as sharp for Bray as it maybe would be if he were the coach. Chaney said coach Derek Dooley has mandated that the first- and second-string quarterback receive nearly equal repetitions during practice, something Chaney typically hasn't been accustomed to.
"Coach is a little more for the two getting adequate reps," Chaney said. "So it hasn't been that big of a change."
Snap Decision: Dooley said James Stone, who has been working primarily as the first-team center in practice this week, will be a "game-time decision."
Stone, who is being groomed as UT's center for the future, was held out of the South Carolina game because Dooley was apprehensive about Stone's chemistry with the quarterbacks.
"Let's see how everything goes," Dooley said. "If I see three fumbled snaps in warm-ups, I might say, 'Boys, we're going to wait one more week.' "
Injury Roundup: Dooley said he doesn't expect cornerback Marsalis Teague (turf toe) to play Saturday.
"I'm not sure we're going to get anything out of Teague this week," Dooley said. "I'm hoping he'll be ready next week, but we're still trying to get something out of him."
Daniel Lincoln (quadriceps) did not kick in practice Wednesday and will likely miss his fifth consecutive game.
Dooley said he hopes he can work offensive guard JerQuari Schofield (foot) into the game.
"He was still in his early stages of development, and when he missed that month, he didn't retain and couldn't pick it back up the way a veteran could," Dooley said. "It's almost like starting all over, but he's doing good."
Defensive end Chris Walker sported a brace on his right hand Wednesday, but said it wouldn't prevent him from playing. Walker, a Memphis native, also has battled nagging back and knee injuries this season.
"It's good. It just happens," Walker said. "Playing football, things get caught when they're not supposed to, so it's just kind of banged up a little bit."
Cornerback Naz Oliver (knee), who has yet to play this season but has seen increased participation in practice this week, will not be available Saturday, Dooley said.
Tragedy Hits Home: The passing of Mississippi State defensive end Nick Bell on Tuesday prompted Dooley to talk to his players about the fragility of life.
"It's tough on these young kids because they're having to deal with some issues that you hope you don't have to deal with them until later in life," Dooley said on Wednesday's SEC teleconference. "Also, it's a great reminder of perspective and how fortunate we are to be here."
UT freshman linebacker Raiques Crump was a friend of Bell's in high school. Crump, a year younger than Bell, was at Minor High outside of Birmingham, Ala., while Bell played at nearby Jess Lanier High.
Bell's funeral is set for Saturday afternoon in Birmingham.
Dooley said Crump would still travel with the team for the Memphis game.