Bray-receiver relationship a long time coming relationship

Tennessee wide receiver Justin Hunter runs the ball for 80 yards to the end zone for a touchdown against Ole Miss during the first quarter at Neyland Stadium Saturday, Nov. 13, 2010.  The Vols defeated the Rebels 52-14.

Photo by Adam Brimer

Tennessee wide receiver Justin Hunter runs the ball for 80 yards to the end zone for a touchdown against Ole Miss during the first quarter at Neyland Stadium Saturday, Nov. 13, 2010. The Vols defeated the Rebels 52-14.

Game-day recap: Tennessee-Ole Miss

The seemingly effortless comfort Tennessee quarterback Tyler Bray has displayed with his wide receivers is by no means an overnight success story.

The trust between the freshman and his veteran-heavy wide receiver corps, senior wide receiver Gerald Jones said, has existed ever since their voluntary pitch-and-catch sessions under the blazing July sun.

"We saw the throws he was making," Jones said. "And then when he makes them in the game, when he first got a chance to do it, we were just like 'Hey, you do it in practice, you do it in the game.

" 'We trust you.' "

For Bray, it's clear he has UT's receivers' trust.

It's a reciprocal relationship, sprouted long before his first career start last week at Memphis, that was on display throughout the Vols' dominating 52-14 victory Saturday over Ole Miss at Neyland Stadium.

"I have faith that they're going to go up and grab the ball," Bray said after completing 18 of 34 passes for 323 yards and three touchdowns, becoming the first quarterback in UT history to clear 300 passing yards in his first two career starts.

"We have a height advantage over most teams we play, so that helps."

That certainly helped against an undersized and overmatched Ole Miss secondary Saturday, but Bray showed little hesitation throwing passes into tight coverage that forced his receivers to make a play on the ball.

Freshman Justin Hunter's second touchdown catch served as the best example. Bray saw one defensive back on Hunter's hip and another defensive back converging on the play, but saw a small amount of space where only the 6-foot-5 Hunter could bring it down.

All Hunter had to do was catch it.

"He knows where to put the ball to give them a chance," coach Derek Dooley said. "I think they know the ball's going to come and there's an expectation they're going to come down with it. That's how good throwing teams get that way."

There were plenty of chances for UT's other receivers to thrive, too, and Bray had no problem getting everyone involved for a second consecutive week.

Denarius Moore, Jones and tight end Luke Stocker all caught four passes, while Hunter snagged three for a game-high 114 yards. All four, plus backup tight end Mychal Rivera, caught at least one pass for 20 yards or longer, the second consecutive week that's occurred.

"He has confidence in his wide receivers," said Moore, who has 419 receiving yards over the previous three games and notched his third consecutive game with a touchdown by catching a 17-yard, first-quarter pass in tight coverage.

"He knows that he has some good wide receivers on the perimeter and he just gives it to us."

Though Matt Simms was considered UT's starter long before two-a-days, Bray received a number of repetitions with the first-team offense, a policy offensive coordinator Jim Chaney said earlier in the month that is unique to a Dooley-coached team.

Bray said that provided an essential head start. Now he knows what some of his receivers plan to do before they even do it.

"It helps knowing what they're going to do on a route," Bray said. "Gerald has a thing where I know if he's running an out or a slant just by how he moves his head. I can't really explain it, it's just something that happens."

Even on the first play of the game, when he intended to hit Jones on a crossing route, Hunter was looking for the ball to get in his hands. That was Hunter's explanation for why, instead of trying to bat down Bray's deflected pass, he was looking to catch it the entire time.

Eighty yards later, Hunter was in the end zone on a conceivably lucky play that may have just been the product of expedited chemistry between Bray and his receivers.

"It changes what you do mentally and physically," Moore said. "In our head we know we might have a chance to get the ball and physically we want to have our bodies in the right position to make the play.

"I really am amazed, just with him being a true freshman. I've never seen a true freshman do that before."

Andrew Gribble covers Tennessee football and recruiting. He may be reached at 865-342-6327. Follow him at http://twitter.com/Andrew_Gribble and http://blogs.knoxnews.com/gribble/

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Comments » 58

rockytopatl writes:

Bray certainly has had two starts to remember. Throwing for 300 yards is notable for a veteran, much less a true freshman. At this point in his young career, he compares very favorably with another tall, skinny kid who first ran out onto Shields-Watkins Field in 1994.

txvolsfan writes:

The kid has a pair

VolunteerLifer writes:

Couldn't you work the word "relationship" into the title of this article at least one more time?

spacehistorian writes:

After the dark days of October as a Tennessee fan it is always good to welcome November on the calendar as it has been traditionally a very successful month for The Big Orange. Last week wasn't too big a surprise as Memphis was a terrible team but I was impressed with the Vols complete game performance against a SEC-West opponent that embarrassed us last year down on their field. Two more games like this against Vandy & KY would get us to 6-6 & into a minor bowl which I would greatly celebrate this season. We may have discovered one heck of a QB in Tyler Bray. The bowl practices & game would really help give him more experience going into next season.

RoadTrip writes:

I haven't thanked the Liar Surfer Dude for much since he left, besides leaving. However, I will thank him for bringing in Tyler Bray. After that all the credit goes to Coaches Chaney, Baggett, and Hinshaw.

Mobbdeep4life writes:

in response to txvolsfan:

The kid has a pair

Bray is very confident he can make the throw. He's got a gunslinger's mentality which I like. The throw to Hunter should be on ESPN and had me jump out of my chair before the catch was even made.
So I wonder.........Bray or Hunter for Freshman of the Week?

givehim6 writes:

As fun as it's been watching the past few games it will be more fun watching him and his recivers next year and the next few to come.

RespectTradition writes:

If he is not the future then we are in for true greatness. Anyone who beats him out will have to be a future hall of famer. Maybe I have just drunk too much koolaid, but I am seriously impressed.

Go Vols!

bluetick writes:

Just think about 2 more years down the road. Hunter will be a stud. Then there will be Meline, Rogers, Rodgers and Rivera and see who all comes to play that is recruited this year and the next year as well. It's going to be fun to watch these guys.

Witch_Doctors writes:

Witch Doctor say Bray ONLY thing good kiffen do...only thing!@ Witch Doctor say this kid and freshman receiving corp could be special.
Bones never lie.

Orangeblood13 writes:

I think we should stop with the next Peyton talk
He's beat memphis & ole miss
Lets hope he turns into the next Bray and carves his
His own nich in vol history

BleedsOrangeinMO writes:

in response to Makeing_The_Call:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

We will lose all of our seniors. (Sorry I just could not resist). Except those who had a medical redshirt. So the question is how many players will we lose this year at years end and how many do we have coming in?

slipshuck writes:

i hope bray's impressive play hasn't caused justin worley to rethink his committment...ut needs worley...he's the real deal...

UTByrd writes:

in response to Witch_Doctors:

Witch Doctor say Bray ONLY thing good kiffen do...only thing!@ Witch Doctor say this kid and freshman receiving corp could be special.
Bones never lie.

Kiffin doesn't deserve the credit. That belongs with Peyton Manning, Tyler's football hero. TB wanted to play where PM did. Plus, it didn't hurt that PM was at UT dedicating a locker room when TB had his officail visit.
Truth be told, Tyler probably had to beg Kiffin just to look at his film, and not because he wanted to play for LK. He wanted to play for UT, period.
Go VOLS!!!!!

UTByrd writes:

By the way, Witch Doctor, every one is saying Tyler has "it". They can't define "it" but you and I know what "it" is. "It" is called MoJo and Tyler Bray is full of "it".
Go VOLS!!!!!

Fulton_Vol writes:

in response to Makeing_The_Call:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

There are 17 seniors listed on the UT roster:

89 Brent Slusher
94 Minor Bowens
52 Victor Thomas
18 Tyler Wolf
45 Kevin Cooper
74 Jarrod Shaw
57 Gerald Williams
96 Chad Cunningham
43 Savion Frazier
4 Gerald Jones
26 Daniel Lincoln
99 Ben Martin
6 Denarius Moore
56 Nick Reveiz
88 Luke Stocker
42 LaMarcus Thompson
84 Chris Walker

Witch_Doctors writes:

in response to UTByrd:

By the way, Witch Doctor, every one is saying Tyler has "it". They can't define "it" but you and I know what "it" is. "It" is called MoJo and Tyler Bray is full of "it".
Go VOLS!!!!!

Witch Doctor agree 100%.
Bones never lie.

Docrok writes:

in response to Fulton_Vol:

There are 17 seniors listed on the UT roster:

89 Brent Slusher
94 Minor Bowens
52 Victor Thomas
18 Tyler Wolf
45 Kevin Cooper
74 Jarrod Shaw
57 Gerald Williams
96 Chad Cunningham
43 Savion Frazier
4 Gerald Jones
26 Daniel Lincoln
99 Ben Martin
6 Denarius Moore
56 Nick Reveiz
88 Luke Stocker
42 LaMarcus Thompson
84 Chris Walker

Ben Martin will return next year as he was granted a medical red shirt this season due to the torn achilles tendon from the start of summer workouts

RickyHite writes:

it seems to me that we are set on offense for at least two to three years even with moore and jones leaving we have very young but talented offensive linemen and recievers an a nice young qb ive said for two years that d.moore has first round talent. we have to develop a d.line and a solid secondary to truly compete in the sec and hey whats up with chaney always rolling out the qb over and over the defense gets us everytime he tries that phooey 3step five step or shotgun no 6foot6 qb rolling out like drew brees in the big slow 10 that dont getb it in the sec

vols104 writes:

in response to RoadTrip:

I haven't thanked the Liar Surfer Dude for much since he left, besides leaving. However, I will thank him for bringing in Tyler Bray. After that all the credit goes to Coaches Chaney, Baggett, and Hinshaw.

Good point, I was just thinking the same thing myself before I ran across your post.

Southland writes:

in response to getsimmsout:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

easy to second guess Simms was pretty good He just hangs on the ball to long but a tough kid that helped us grow even though we didnt win.

murrayvol writes:

in response to Makeing_The_Call:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Every dang one of em. Happens every year. I hate it.

murrayvol writes:

in response to Fulton_Vol:

There are 17 seniors listed on the UT roster:

89 Brent Slusher
94 Minor Bowens
52 Victor Thomas
18 Tyler Wolf
45 Kevin Cooper
74 Jarrod Shaw
57 Gerald Williams
96 Chad Cunningham
43 Savion Frazier
4 Gerald Jones
26 Daniel Lincoln
99 Ben Martin
6 Denarius Moore
56 Nick Reveiz
88 Luke Stocker
42 LaMarcus Thompson
84 Chris Walker

Martin should get a medical redshirt.

VolunteerLifer writes:

in response to Makeing_The_Call:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

All of them

VolunteerLifer writes:

in response to VolunteerLifer:

All of them

Sorry, Making the Call, I didn't read all the other posts before I wrote that comment. I wasn't trying to pile on.

Huttdawg100 writes:

in response to Witch_Doctors:

Witch Doctor say Bray ONLY thing good kiffen do...only thing!@ Witch Doctor say this kid and freshman receiving corp could be special.
Bones never lie.

Amen Brotha! Bray already looks better than USC's Matt Barkley. I've been looking for news on Jesse Scroggins since the Memphis game, and he's riding the pine. I think it's clear that we got our money's worth in Bray and Hunter so far. I'm looking forward to Rogers developing.

BTW, "Witch_Doctors_ghost"? Did I miss something in my absence? Why would WD get banned?

utclassof1992 writes:

My, how karma has humbled this fan base. Now we whoop up on Ole Miss and Memphis, and crow how good we did. Under Phillip Fulmer, that was expected. We go 0 for October, and get destroyed, and everyone says "look to the future". Phillip Fulmer is laughing at you, and so am I. Wish we had you back,CPF.

volfan2002 writes:

We lose a lot at WR and TE but still have Rivera who is a good Te and with Hunter, Rogers, and Rodgers have three great WRs then add the redshirts and the incoming freshmen. Everywhere else we will be practically the same only with a year to get stronger and better. Hope both lines work hard we can be a good team next season.

utclassof1992 writes:

in response to TennVolFan:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

You obviously did not actually watch 1993-2007. I know 2008 was bad, but we averaged 8 wins a year and made 4 SECCG appearances, including one 11 months before he was fired. Also managed a NC. Beats this WAC guy and his moral victories.

aidensgrandpa#442215 writes:

UTclass of 92:
You are wrong wrong wrong. We would probably have the same record if Fulmer were here now. For the last 3 years of his time he sat on his fat butt thinking that because he won a national championship he could slide through for the rest of his career. He refused to improve his staff, he lost his touch in recruiting and he got beat out by more improvising coaches. Sorry, but I am glad he is gone. Aidens grandpa

wtnvolfan writes:

in response to utclassof1992:

My, how karma has humbled this fan base. Now we whoop up on Ole Miss and Memphis, and crow how good we did. Under Phillip Fulmer, that was expected. We go 0 for October, and get destroyed, and everyone says "look to the future". Phillip Fulmer is laughing at you, and so am I. Wish we had you back,CPF.

It must be a very lonely place in which you live...the past. Do you not have other things in your life in which change occurs. I hope if you do, that you can pick up the pieces, make adjustments and overcome. I too am grateful for the accomplishments of PF but I too now that the direction UT is going was not the direction PF was going and we needed a change. PF did wonderful things for this program and so will DD. We are 2+ years from PF, it is time to recognize that. Accept that it happened, it is not going to chnge and this is UT now. Either get with THIS program or get off the bus. It is not disloyal to PF to support this coach and this program...he would expect that, if he was as great as some make him out to be.

coltvol33 writes:

in response to utclassof1992:

You obviously did not actually watch 1993-2007. I know 2008 was bad, but we averaged 8 wins a year and made 4 SECCG appearances, including one 11 months before he was fired. Also managed a NC. Beats this WAC guy and his moral victories.

Time to move on, Classof1992. It's been 2 years since he was here. There is a reason he is no longer here. Great Tennessean and coach (over the first part of his career- hence the "overall" good stats). He ain't coming back. Sorry. Time to move to the present, and if you did not see the future yesterday, maybe you never will. Good luck.

Bogus writes:

in response to Fulton_Vol:

There are 17 seniors listed on the UT roster:

89 Brent Slusher
94 Minor Bowens
52 Victor Thomas
18 Tyler Wolf
45 Kevin Cooper
74 Jarrod Shaw
57 Gerald Williams
96 Chad Cunningham
43 Savion Frazier
4 Gerald Jones
26 Daniel Lincoln
99 Ben Martin
6 Denarius Moore
56 Nick Reveiz
88 Luke Stocker
42 LaMarcus Thompson
84 Chris Walker

I see alot of people who say Ben Martin got a medical redshirt, but he never redshirted in the first place. He took a normal redshirt.

Also, I believe Brent Slusher is the TE who transferred from Auburn. I think he's sitting out this year and they anticipate he's going to be pretty serviceable and will back up Rivera next season.

What will hurt us next year besides losing Jones and Moore at WR is that we're losing 3 linebackers. Probst and Crump will need to step up next year, and hopefully A.J. Johnson (?) keeps his commitment and turns out to be a stud.

kd45music writes:

in response to Southland:

easy to second guess Simms was pretty good He just hangs on the ball to long but a tough kid that helped us grow even though we didnt win.

I absolutely agree, and I hope Simms stays on. He's a tough kid who may yet get another chance. I'm still concerned some big d-end will break Bray in two.

mdvol writes:

in response to Orangeblood13:

I think we should stop with the next Peyton talk
He's beat memphis & ole miss
Lets hope he turns into the next Bray and carves his
His own nich in vol history

I guess that makes Bray BETTER than Peyton!

Peyton LOST to Memphis.

LOL!

rbut5252#220065 writes:

Is DaRick Rogers ever going to learn to run routes? I'd like to see him more involved in the offense than just the 'end around'. Teams are eventually gonna figure that one out.

acworthdave writes:

in response to Mobbdeep4life:

Bray is very confident he can make the throw. He's got a gunslinger's mentality which I like. The throw to Hunter should be on ESPN and had me jump out of my chair before the catch was even made.
So I wonder.........Bray or Hunter for Freshman of the Week?

I think that award is reserved for Mr. Lattimore at South Carolina this week. That guy is a M.A.N.

britt writes:

in response to Mobbdeep4life:

Bray is very confident he can make the throw. He's got a gunslinger's mentality which I like. The throw to Hunter should be on ESPN and had me jump out of my chair before the catch was even made.
So I wonder.........Bray or Hunter for Freshman of the Week?

Both had great games but id bet Lattimore gets it. 41 carries for over 200 yds

Pompey writes:

in response to rockytopatl:

Bray certainly has had two starts to remember. Throwing for 300 yards is notable for a veteran, much less a true freshman. At this point in his young career, he compares very favorably with another tall, skinny kid who first ran out onto Shields-Watkins Field in 1994.

...I am thinking the same thing.....

Pompey writes:

in response to getsimmsout:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

.....hindsight is a wonderful thing......

UTByrd writes:

I just read an article on UTSports that coined the term "StarBrayzer" for optimistic Vol fans. Consider me a "StarBrayzer".
Gerald Jones said it best the other day. He said nobody knows who is going to get thrown to so they all have to be on their toes. This translates to not running lazy routes. I like Simms but he seemed to lock on a couple receivers and that was it. The other receivers were getting lazy. "Why should I run my route when I'm not getting the ball?"
Tyler's talent for seeing the whole field has brought hope and enthusiasm to the whole offense. I am very impressed.
Go VOLS!!!!!

UTByrd writes:

We started the season short on 13 scholarships. I believe we currently have 18 recruits for next year. If we graduate 15 senior scholarship players, we will have a net gain of 3. We will still be short 10 SA's for 2012.
It would seem to me we can't "burn" up all scholarships for next year because we'll be short of offers for 2013.
If all goes well, we should have a full complement of athletes by the start of 2013, by which time we should be highly competitive on the national level.
The numbers may not be exact but you should get my point.
Go VOLS!!!!!

volcrazy333 writes:

in response to utclassof1992:

My, how karma has humbled this fan base. Now we whoop up on Ole Miss and Memphis, and crow how good we did. Under Phillip Fulmer, that was expected. We go 0 for October, and get destroyed, and everyone says "look to the future". Phillip Fulmer is laughing at you, and so am I. Wish we had you back,CPF.

I saw Fulmer Friday. I guarantee you he is not laughing at the state of our football team. He came to campus to watch the unveiling of the Neyland statue. I love Fulmer and I'm glad he bleeds orange, but it was time for him to go. He is supporting Dooley because he wants to see this football team succeed just as much as any other alumni. Support our troops, support our Vols. No matter if you agree with the decision or not. GBO. DO THE DOOLEY

Witch_Doctors writes:

in response to jcvet33:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Witch Doctor say really? Witch Doctor say Bray wasnt ready 3 months ago...lets look forward for a change.
Bones never lie.
Go Vols.

UTByrd writes:

in response to Witch_Doctors:

Witch Doctor say really? Witch Doctor say Bray wasnt ready 3 months ago...lets look forward for a change.
Bones never lie.
Go Vols.

I'll look back but not to criticize. As far as I'm concerned, Simms did one heck of a job with what he had to play with and the competition he faced. It almost seems unfair to sit Simms because the team has jelled somewhat and the competition is less of a problem.
Be that as it may, I remain a "StarBrayzer".
Go VOLS!!!!!

gatorhator4eva writes:

i see alot of people on here saying it. This kid reminds me of peyton manning, except he is even more elusive. he is for sure special, tennessee looks to be improving by the week.

OrangePride writes:

in response to utclassof1992:

You obviously did not actually watch 1993-2007. I know 2008 was bad, but we averaged 8 wins a year and made 4 SECCG appearances, including one 11 months before he was fired. Also managed a NC. Beats this WAC guy and his moral victories.

Let me begin with, I am full agreement that CPF was a great coach for Tennessee, had a LOT of great teams and seasons, and is a Tennessee Orange guy thru and thru. I really like and respect him. That said, I will not understand why you and some of the others who post here cannot get past his very unimpressive last three or four years and move ahead with Tennessee. Whether we like (and I frankly did not) the way his dismissal was handled, or whether it was reasonable to dismiss Coach Fulmer, at this point it just is what it is. As for yesterday's gameplan and execution, it was VERY different than what we had seen in just about any of the Fulmer years, especially the last 6. The come out throwing gameplan, keep throwing even with a fairly good lead, reverses on kickoffs, and just plain get out of that tunnel on fire were things that we Tennessee fans have not seen in quite a while. So yes, we are all crowing a little bit here and I hope, at least in my case, it isn't taken as a slight against our 1990's, early 2000's success or any of the previous coaches. Just GO BIG ORANGE, WE'RE LOVING THESE LAST TWO WEEKS!!

OrangePride writes:

in response to UTByrd:

We started the season short on 13 scholarships. I believe we currently have 18 recruits for next year. If we graduate 15 senior scholarship players, we will have a net gain of 3. We will still be short 10 SA's for 2012.
It would seem to me we can't "burn" up all scholarships for next year because we'll be short of offers for 2013.
If all goes well, we should have a full complement of athletes by the start of 2013, by which time we should be highly competitive on the national level.
The numbers may not be exact but you should get my point.
Go VOLS!!!!!

I think everyone's hope is that, should we grow by 3 or 4 scholarships a year for the next two, we will be competing releatively evenly with everyone on the schedule by no later that 2012. The key here is, UTByrd, what happens when these athletes get here and how does this staff mold them into a real physical, mistake-free, football team. So far, I like what I see and, with some continuing success, I believe the kids we bring to Tennessee are going to be real blue-chip people. GO VOLS!

mercyseat writes:

in response to utclassof1992:

My, how karma has humbled this fan base. Now we whoop up on Ole Miss and Memphis, and crow how good we did. Under Phillip Fulmer, that was expected. We go 0 for October, and get destroyed, and everyone says "look to the future". Phillip Fulmer is laughing at you, and so am I. Wish we had you back,CPF.

Fulmer never fielded a team as decimated as this one, and we are having to look to the future and that brings hope and praises, which brings confidence. A field of champions is only built from the bottom up. Our young kids read these posts, and if you tear down your freshmen, then you tear down their development,and confidence, and any hope for a future championship. So.... yes we are going to praise them and compare them to others. Praise them when they do good and collar them when they're not. That's a sweet recipe for success!

tennrich1 writes:

in response to steviejanowski:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

If the internet had been around after the 1951 season our fans would have complained that we let someone score on us....Its really unreal to read a comment criticizes a win like yesterday.

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