Bray attributes: tall, skinny and . . . elusive

Dooley: 'instincts' keep freshman out of trouble

Tennessee quarterback Tyler Bray throws a pass against South Carolina at Williams-Brice Stadium in Columbia, SC on Saturday, Oct. 30, 2010. UT lost the game 38-24, giving them a 2-6 record.

Photo by Amy Smotherman Burgess

Tennessee quarterback Tyler Bray throws a pass against South Carolina at Williams-Brice Stadium in Columbia, SC on Saturday, Oct. 30, 2010. UT lost the game 38-24, giving them a 2-6 record.

Tyler Bray is a big target, at least vertically.

The Tennessee quarterback is working behind an offensive line that's allowed more sacks than all but a small handful of teams, and the freshman isn't exactly the most mobile guy around, either.

Even with those factors working against him, though, Bray has shown an ability early in his career to shake off defenders or find an escape route from pressure in the pocket, which could come in handy on Saturday against Ole Miss (TV: WVLT, Noon).

But nobody is quite sure exactly why that is yet, even the guy pulling off the great escapes.

"I have no idea," Bray said. "I just try to avoid those big linemen because they're twice the size that I am.

"The more I avoid them, the less I'm on my back and that's better."

Any quarterback is going to be more effective when he's upright, and obviously that's true for Bray.

But the way he's gone about it, deflecting a handful of would-be sacks, stepping up in the pocket and extending plays outside of it has come as a bit of a surprise.

The Vols (3-6, 0-5 SEC) put their quarterbacks in green, non-contact jerseys at practice, so it's not likely a trait that's been learned through repetition. Bray is listed at 6-foot-6 and 210 pounds by UT, so it's surely not pure strength helping him hold off tacklers.

Even teammates and coaches who have seen him operate up close and personal struggle to come up with a concrete reason he's able to stay on his feet so well, though they're not really hung up on specifics.

"What you saw was his instincts," UT coach Derek Dooley said. "It's hard to put a better word on it. Pocket awareness -when things are moving he naturally moves away from it. He naturally steps up and you wonder how he sees that. Some quarterbacks just have that and you've got to have some of that to survive back there or you're going to take some shots.

"I think he's got more elusiveness in the pocket than you would think, being a tall, lanky-looking guy. That just comes from instinctively feeling where guys are and knowing them. Some quarterbacks can maneuver through the pocket, elude arms and some struggle to do it. He has shown the ability to do that."

The Rebels (4-5, 1-4 SEC) are more than capable of putting that to the test with a defense that has piled up 25 sacks this season, which is a potentially dangerous combination when paired with a UT offensive line that has allowed 31 through nine games - easily the highest total in the conference.

Bray did take three of them during his coming-out party two weeks ago against South Carolina. But that game also provided a glimpse of his potential elusiveness with his first completion coming off a scramble to his right that produced a first-down throw to Gerald Jones. And though Memphis didn't sack him at all last week, Bray was still under fire as an inexperienced line broke in a new center and dealt with another injury to a starter.

"It blows my mind, too, man," Jones said. "I mean, the guy's poise in the pocket is crazy, and even when he gets out of the pocket he makes something happen. He's got an incredible arm, his arm is what gets him out of trouble.

"(And it's) because he's 6-6 and he's skinny and a big target - a tall target, but it's not a wide target. He's just slim, and he's not moving fast but he's just slipping out of it and buying himself an extra two seconds to get the ball out."

Whether that's just instinctual or something else entirely, UT doesn't really care as long as Bray continues to buy himself that precious time.

Austin Ward covers Tennessee football. He may be reached 865-342-6274. Follow him at http://twitter.com/Vols_Beat and http://blogs.knoxnews.com/ward.

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Comments » 45

gatorhator4eva writes:

bray is lookin sharp. next up ole miss.

PUL4VOLS writes:

We can only hope Bray keeps up his good instincts and makes plays. Also we hope our O-line will stand up to a pretty good D-line for the Rebs. I hope he does not start forcing things and getting picked off. That can happen occasionally when a youngster gets pressured. So far, he has shown veteran type poise and we will need that Sat. and in the final two games. Go Tyler, Go Big Orange!

cgbtn writes:

After Bray committed, I followed his high school games on the website of the Kingsburg weekly newspaper. They showed highlights of his games. I posted weekly updates here and said, "He just never gets hit." Sometimes his moves were tiny, but they were enough. I wish all Vol fans could watch those highlights. This kid is good. A bad game or two will not change that.

cloudodust writes:

Maybe the description shouldn't be skinny and thin. Maybe it should be wiry and sinuous...

usnavyvolfaninva_still_getting_paid writes:

No more 0 for the SEC! It ends Saturday! GBO!!

RaineyVol writes:

Future star... he is a little Ryan Mallett

Voluvr writes:

Mallett wishes.

RoadTrip writes:

Bray is the real deal. He keeps it simple - it's a game, not nuclear science. He is now studying defenses more and understanding opposing schemes - he just needs experience. Hope the boys run the table, but if they don't it is still the right move for him to be the starter and leader.

I am starting to enjoy this season a whole lot more...

eb502us#225637 writes:

You can't teach the instincts Bray's got. You either have it or you don't.

Our previous two QB's, Simms and Crompton, had as much pocket presence as a deer in headlights. Frightening.

orangecountyvols writes:

Tyler is doing really well considering how few games he's played in. Looking forward to when he'll add maybe 20 pounds and even more strength. Simms.......
don't you give up, just keep working hard. We should be in really good shape at QB next year, and if the O L can also improve, things will be looking up.

Just get some more mean guys on both sides of the ball.

rich182x writes:

in response to FirstAndGoal:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Love you

hcjournals#206623 writes:

rich...too funny....

rich182x writes:

Im glad you got the joke.

jobrando#216494 writes:

in response to Euro_Vol:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

I assume the coaches wanted to bring him in slowly and use Simms as fill in. I'm sure they knew Bray had the talent and was the future. I still get stuck on the coaches holding him back because they wanted to recruit another decent qb before they turned it over to the freshman. Now with Worley coming the QB position is set for the next four years.

Fulton_Vol writes:

I watch the Elite Camp program that ESPN U did on his class and he looked sharp. They were shocked with his progress and his arm. He left camp with the most upside award and I am glad he is continuing to improve. He reminds me of Peyton as a freshman and if this kid can be that good the future is bright!

tennrich1 writes:

in response to RaineyVol:

Future star... he is a little Ryan Mallett

I got to say..Mallet just hasnt impressed me like I thought he would this year...He's big with a cannon arm but I have seen him make really bad decisions on several occasions this year. Plus, most QB's struggle when you get pressure on them but Mallet seems to struggle more than most. Thankfully for Ark., the O line seems to protect him fairly well. For Bray, his thinness still scares me. I will admit he does have a shotgun arm though. Hope he breaks all PM's records before he's done.

Bellem13 writes:

UT VOLS won an award, our only award this year, Freshman of the week!

THANKS Bray

Do it again!

pdhuff#552644 writes:

in response to Navalorange:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Naval, could you really tell us how you feel about wakeupworld?

lol

tnsportsman writes:

in response to Fulton_Vol:

I watch the Elite Camp program that ESPN U did on his class and he looked sharp. They were shocked with his progress and his arm. He left camp with the most upside award and I am glad he is continuing to improve. He reminds me of Peyton as a freshman and if this kid can be that good the future is bright!

Good post, I watch the Elite 11 several times last year and Bray stoled the show, the Upside Award certainly was earned by Tyler!

I got to see Peyton and Tyler throw side by side in pre-season when Peyton works out with the Vols and you couldn't tell them apart hardly except by number.

Tyler is 6' 8" LOL, they list him at 6' 6" for NFL standards. Not worried about his 210 lbs, he is only 18 years old and will beef up this off season.

NO EXCUSES for not beating these 3 teams! VOLS stay focused, protect the damn ball and we will be just fine!

GO VOLS, WE ARE UT!

mloaks#222092 writes:

his approach reminds me of allen cockrell. hope the end aint the same...

pdhuff#552644 writes:

in response to Navalorange:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Yep, it's everywhere. ck out al.com aubie vs bama, look at ajc.com Tucker's column on Richt thinking of Cam Newton as a tight end in recruiting days, etc..

They use several alias's, not as many as there seems to be.

Your response was 4***.

WestTennVol writes:

Bray elusiveness = Gumby style

illinoisvolfan writes:

in response to Navalorange:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Naval, some trolls come on here to kick the Vols while they're down. That's almost expected anymore and I've done the same thing (usually more light-hearted) to Bama and Florida fans that I know following a loss or a subpar season by their schools. No big deal...

What bothers me is the so-called Tennessee fans who come on here and trash all the Vols athletic programs worse than the rival trolls do. Memo: if UT $uck$ that bad to you, turn in all your orange gear and root for the latest ESPN favorite. I think it's TCU and Auburn right now, could be Oregon and Boise State in a day or two. You know who you are...

As for me and thousands of others, GBO always!!

licknpromise777#651578 writes:

5 TD passes against Memphis was good but 5 TD passes against Ole Miss means our first SEC win((Can't believe Iam saying that in Nov.))It's gonna take a 100 yard game from Poole and a team effort to get this win..Ole Miss isn't as bad as their record and Masoli could give our front 4 fits!!

BigOrangeArmy writes:

Bray is the TRUTH! So glad we dont have Simms back there getting sacked, fumbling, and throwing the ball to the wrong team. I truly believe the Vols will beat Ole Miss. The team is excited to have Bray back there! Just need the D to get to Masoli early and use the crowd! This season has been rough, but cant help but believe in the Vols! Now lets get this first SEC win under our belts, and fight for the rest of Nov!
We got this!
GBO!!!!!

Tnstar writes:

Go Vols ! Saturday will be a huge win if we can pull it off. A Bray/Poole effort should be the answer. Thanks for supporting Smokey as Mascot of the Year. The race is still competative with UTEP who is undefeated keep those votes coming for Smokey at http://www.capitalonebowl.com/vote/main

trubleoj#657755 writes:

I do wish TB would get a Peyton style long facemask. He is so tall and keeps his head back. I am afraid he's going to take a hat to the chin.

Volchief writes:

in response to wakeupworld:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Wow, I was thinking that same thing if I saw you in Bar Knoxville!

civilianvol_formerly_marinevol writes:

in response to usnavyvolfaninva_still_getting_paid:

No more 0 for the SEC! It ends Saturday! GBO!!

I hope you're right. How is everything on Granby Street? I had a good time there one night, until everybody found out I was a Marine.

navarrebeachvol writes:

in response to wakeupworld:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

talking about yourself?

RaineyVol writes:

in response to rich182x:

Love you

XoXo ;)

Mule_Days_King writes:

Remember folks, he is NOT the second coming of Manning. No one is. He is the first coming of Tyler Bray. I think comparing him to Manning ability-wise is fine. Comparing him to Manning in potential accomplishments is unfair to Peyton and Tyler. Let Tyler be Tyler and appreciate his talent. He's still a freshman.

Smokey_Told_Me writes:

in response to WestTennVol:

Bray elusiveness = Gumby style

Or "Mr. Bill" style (SNL a few years ago)... "OOOhhh Noooo!"...LOL.

Smokey will "tree" a "Sippi Bear" this weekend.

...Smokey knows where the bones are buried.

mercyseat writes:

I just read where Tom Deinhart and Eddie George was saying Cam Newton deserves the Heisman and that he was coming off his best game in his collegiate history, of 317 yds,4td's, and 1 run td in the first 17 minutes of the chattanooga game.(Yeah, and it only took him 3 collegiate years to get there).I guess they didn't read where our little ole suckey Tennessee Vol team had a FRESHMAN making his 1st debut named TYLER BRAY that threw for 325 yds and 5 touchdowns in the first half as well, and all of this while running for his life with an o-line that can't pass protect.A FIRST START FRESHMAN!
Dam, if he can out play a 3rd year college player in his first collegiate start, then maybe they are looking at the wrong heisman candidate. And, he is not an accused cheater or thief with good grades and character! Unfortunately one game does'nt define a quarterback but it dam sure overshadows any thing Cam Newton has done!

RockHillOrange writes:

in response to orangecountyvols:

Tyler is doing really well considering how few games he's played in. Looking forward to when he'll add maybe 20 pounds and even more strength. Simms.......
don't you give up, just keep working hard. We should be in really good shape at QB next year, and if the O L can also improve, things will be looking up.

Just get some more mean guys on both sides of the ball.

Just to remind.......Justin Worley is coming in. I live in Rock Hill and see him play every week. He is the real deal..50td passes 7 INTs this year..Playoffs up next

OrangePride writes:

in response to illinoisvolfan:

Naval, some trolls come on here to kick the Vols while they're down. That's almost expected anymore and I've done the same thing (usually more light-hearted) to Bama and Florida fans that I know following a loss or a subpar season by their schools. No big deal...

What bothers me is the so-called Tennessee fans who come on here and trash all the Vols athletic programs worse than the rival trolls do. Memo: if UT $uck$ that bad to you, turn in all your orange gear and root for the latest ESPN favorite. I think it's TCU and Auburn right now, could be Oregon and Boise State in a day or two. You know who you are...

As for me and thousands of others, GBO always!!

Absolutely spot on, Illinoisvolfan!! It is disgraceful how some "supposed" fans will come on here and trash Dooley or the team. These are many of the same people who sell their seats to Alabummer and Gator fans. So glad you called em out! GO VOLS!

GiveHim6TDTennessee writes:

A couple things to remember, ladies and gentlemen, Bray fell victim to 3 sacks, and a game changing INT against South Carolina, very similar to Simms who had 3 sacks and 2 game changing fumbles. All of that aside, let's look at another important factor: The receivers love Bray. When was the last time in the last four years you have heard Gerald Jones give praise to a QB, let alone a Freshman!? Jones was quoted as saying "I wish I could stay here for four more years," so obviously he is very confident about the future of our young team. Secondly, Bray is so confident in the pocket because frankly, the dude is freakin 6' 8". He has that ability to see over the OL and DL which takes away the possibility for deflections at the LOS because his release is much higher than Matt Simms's. Lastly, the guy has so much confidence in the pocket that it is extremely hard to think that the UK game isn't his last game in the orange and white (senior night). This kid is the future of the Vols, and I'm sure that Worley will take a red-shirt next year to ensure two years as a starter down the road. I am sipping the kool aid, but I ain't chugging it by any means. He looked STELLAR against Memphis which just happens to be #115 in the United States in pass defense. However, the poise, leadership, and confidence were so glaringly obvious that the opponent really didn't matter. Once this kid puts on the muscle mass and learns the system front to back, we're going to be a tough out. Next year I believe that 7-8 wins is likely, but watch out the next year. Two more fresh classes means two less Fulmer classes, and for a program looking for a new identity, that couldn't happen any sooner. GBO, beat the Rebs!

Rockytop38 writes:

Tyler Bray looked good against Memphis and also what time he played in the SC game. Can someone who is in on recruiting tell me if we are going after some really good receivers for 2011. A QB is only as good as his receivers. We do look like we have some good ones now, but I think Jones and Moore graduate. Am I correct? Stocker is giving me visions of Witton out there. Justin Hunter looked great on the deep ball catch for the TD. Thanks.

GiveHim6TDTennessee writes:

There is a 4**** recruit out of Michigan who is the number 6 overall WR and he is announcing tonight between UT, Cal, USC, Michigan, and Michigan St. His name is DeAnthony Arnett, and he announces TONIGHT!

mytrifecta writes:

You can tell this kid is a special player. I know we played memphis but I guarantee you none of our other qb's would have had the night he had. I'm a Simms fan but Bray is clearly a much better player. I look forward to watching him for the next 3 years...or until he goes pro.

GiveHim6TDTennessee writes:

GOT HIM

volfan8#549730 writes:

I am looking forward to watching TB continue to improve ( this past w/e not too much needed) To all you Veterans.. I appreciate all that you have done,. Each and everyone of you mean alot to me..Happy Veterans Day!

volvann writes:

in response to GiveHim6TDTennessee:

A couple things to remember, ladies and gentlemen, Bray fell victim to 3 sacks, and a game changing INT against South Carolina, very similar to Simms who had 3 sacks and 2 game changing fumbles. All of that aside, let's look at another important factor: The receivers love Bray. When was the last time in the last four years you have heard Gerald Jones give praise to a QB, let alone a Freshman!? Jones was quoted as saying "I wish I could stay here for four more years," so obviously he is very confident about the future of our young team. Secondly, Bray is so confident in the pocket because frankly, the dude is freakin 6' 8". He has that ability to see over the OL and DL which takes away the possibility for deflections at the LOS because his release is much higher than Matt Simms's. Lastly, the guy has so much confidence in the pocket that it is extremely hard to think that the UK game isn't his last game in the orange and white (senior night). This kid is the future of the Vols, and I'm sure that Worley will take a red-shirt next year to ensure two years as a starter down the road. I am sipping the kool aid, but I ain't chugging it by any means. He looked STELLAR against Memphis which just happens to be #115 in the United States in pass defense. However, the poise, leadership, and confidence were so glaringly obvious that the opponent really didn't matter. Once this kid puts on the muscle mass and learns the system front to back, we're going to be a tough out. Next year I believe that 7-8 wins is likely, but watch out the next year. Two more fresh classes means two less Fulmer classes, and for a program looking for a new identity, that couldn't happen any sooner. GBO, beat the Rebs!

Cool post. Completely agree. Bray is good, I lost a bet on this before the first game with a good friend tailgater who predicted this. I was the nay-sayer, now I an the now-payer. But with that said.... GO VOLS!!!!

volbald writes:

in response to Fulton_Vol:

I watch the Elite Camp program that ESPN U did on his class and he looked sharp. They were shocked with his progress and his arm. He left camp with the most upside award and I am glad he is continuing to improve. He reminds me of Peyton as a freshman and if this kid can be that good the future is bright!

Heck. T. Bray looks better than Peyton looked as a freshman. And remember that a good Memphis team beat UT in Peyton's junior year. Let's pray that Bray can avoid a career ending injury.

pdhuff#552644 writes:

in response to volfan8#549730:

I am looking forward to watching TB continue to improve ( this past w/e not too much needed) To all you Veterans.. I appreciate all that you have done,. Each and everyone of you mean alot to me..Happy Veterans Day!

TB will be fine. Good field presence already.

Thanks for the Veteran's nod.

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