Bray 'still made the plays', despite struggles

Game recap: UT 24 vs. Vanderbilt 10

NASHVILLE - Turns out Tyler Bray isn't perfect.

Just his record is now.

The Tennessee quarterback saw his streak without an interception snapped, he didn't always see open receivers and there were times the worst defense in the conference made him look like a true freshman.

But even with a performance that didn't exactly build on his first two starts for the Vols, Bray's third still had the same result after he did just enough to pull out a 24-10 decision on Saturday night over Vanderbilt.

"Tyler struggled a little bit out there with his decisions and give Vanderbilt credit for that," UT coach Derek Dooley said. "But, hey, I knew this was going to be a tough game. We're not going to go out there and spray it around and light it up like everybody started thinking. Football doesn't work like that.

"Give the team a lot of credit, with all the mistakes we made . . . we won the game. We found a way to win, and that's what matters."

And if Bray runs his win streak to four next week against Kentucky, he and the Vols (5-6, 2-5 SEC) will both have a chance to make it five - perhaps right back in Nashville for the Music City Bowl.

But the UT offense will probably need better decision making than Bray had against the hapless Commodores, who flustered him at times during a 16-for-27, 232-yard outing that featured two touchdowns but a pair of interceptions, as well. In particular, Vanderbilt (2-9, 1-7) seemed to have success confusing him with shifts at every level and a variety of blitz packages, and without a consistent running game, Bray was largely on his own to manage an early lead and get UT through the second half without incident.

"This game, I don't know," Dooley said. "It's almost like I willed it to happen because all week I never felt good about our approach, especially offensively. Probably the worst week of practice we had on offense, not very good focus and it shows up in the mistakes.

"Penalties, turn the ball over, it was just a poor effort. But I don't want to take away from Vanderbilt, and I mean that. They did a great job mixing up their coverages, blitzing, dropping and we struggled. I knew this was going to be a tough game, give Vanderbilt a lot of credit because they brought it for 60 minutes. We really struggled, had a lot of opportunities to put the game away and we didn't capitalize."

UT took advantage of them early, jumping on the Commodores with impressive scoring strikes of 15 yards to Justin Hunter and 20 yards to Denarius Moore, looking exactly like the offense that rolled over Memphis and Ole Miss during Bray's first two starts.

But instead of building on that positive momentum, the Vols made bad decisions, threw into coverage, picked up a handful of offensive penalties and looked totally out of sync for most of the second half before Tauren Poole finished off Vanderbilt with a 28-yard touchdown run in the closing minutes.

"That wasn't easy," senior receiver Gerald Jones said. "The second half they made great adjustments and did a lot of movement with their defensive line and linebackers and even their (defensive backs).

"(Bray) made some mistakes, but don't expect the guy to be perfect. Every quarterback throws an interception. Yeah, he showed signs of youth, but then again he still made the plays that he normally makes. The guy is not going to be perfect, he's not Peyton Manning. He's going to make freshman mistakes sometimes and he's going to make bad decisions, it's just part of the game."

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.

Get Copyright Permissions © 2010, Knoxville News Sentinel Co.
Want to use this article? Click here for options!

© 2010 govolsxtra.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

  • Discuss
  • Print

Related Topics

Related Stories

Comments » 21

volinvegas writes:

I still expect great things from Bray over the next few years.

nocleats writes:

He is a true freshman who was starting his 3rd game, and he has a hurt shoulder.

VolWoman writes:

I agree on the Stocker call. Totally blew that one.

RockyToptoNeyland writes:

wow, we did not play well at all, and we still won by two touchdowns, i'll take it.

pdhuff#552644 writes:

Great win.

Now chomp on the Wildcats.

We are playing freshmen, you expect some rocky moments.

GBO

vestc#256986 writes:

how many interceptions did Peyton throw his freshman year? Wasn't it about 15? Seems like he threw 15 TDs and 15 INTs. Bray will be fine. We just have an extremely young OL...that has really overachieved. Our OL coach needs to be thanked for the job he has done.

iowavol writes:

in response to vestc#256986:

how many interceptions did Peyton throw his freshman year? Wasn't it about 15? Seems like he threw 15 TDs and 15 INTs. Bray will be fine. We just have an extremely young OL...that has really overachieved. Our OL coach needs to be thanked for the job he has done.

Not even close on Peyton's interceptions his first year. He threw one a game in games he started. However, I agree with your assessment of Bray. He's winging it right now - a la Brett Favre. He will develop and begin to understand what he's really doing. He will be a good one.

GerryOP writes:

One of the most painful wins I've ever watched. But it was still better than the painful losses we've had to suffer through the last 3 years!

One more test ... bring on the blue 'cats!

gatorhator4eva writes:

nobodys perfect. ints are expected for freshman. we won the game and thats what counts. lets get to the wildcats and nashville or memphis and look to next year... if we can get an o line, bray will be doing great things. cant wait.

snuffysmiff writes:

in response to jcvet33:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

The last touchdown play was a sell out play and Vandy bit on it. Poole broke to the outside and it was clear sailing all the way.

snuffysmiff writes:

We seem to have forgotten the Woody ball yrs at Vandy when even Manning couldn't destroy the Dores.

Pompey writes:

in response to VolWoman:

I agree on the Stocker call. Totally blew that one.

...the officating is getting worse and worse and worse.......where will it end?

rockytopatl writes:

in response to Pompey:

...the officating is getting worse and worse and worse.......where will it end?

Maybe Slive will suspend all the officiating crews for the first half of next season, substitute high school crews and realize they did a better job.

NeylandWest writes:

Even professional QB's throw picks. I've seen Manning throw his share. It happens. I'd rather take Bray and his two with a win than Simms and his two with a loss.

murrayvol writes:

in response to GerryOP:

One of the most painful wins I've ever watched. But it was still better than the painful losses we've had to suffer through the last 3 years!

One more test ... bring on the blue 'cats!

Or the previous couple of months.

This happens with freshmen playing key roles. If it happens next week, we'll be home for the holidays.

JohnnyVol writes:

in response to Euro_Vol:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

That would be good, except I don't know any fans who will be playing in the game itself.

By the way, is it possible that Stocker did anything early in the play to get the pass interference call? If not, then the call STUNK! Not only was it bad, but it should have been called on the defensive back instead.

realmenwearorange writes:

with a new QB coming in next year bray will get better or he will not start at least not the whole year!

mercyseat writes:

I think our kids get on this site and read all our smack talk, and lose sight of the goal. even Bray commented that they thought vanderbilt would roll over for them, which they did'nt. Just because we have beaten Vanderbilt and Kentucky every year does'nt guarentee a win for both this year. they play us extremely close every year. In 2007 we only beat Vanderbilt by one point, and with Kentucky it took 4 overtimes in 2007, and overtimes in 2008 and 2009. These kids need to stay focused and respect these rivalries for what they are. I've had a bad feeling all week about playing Vanderbilt "loose" (as bray put it). I pray they come prepared for Kentucky, because Kentucky is going to put out an azz whoopin on us and you can bank on it. So, cut down the mistakes and penalties and force some scoring turnovers, otherwise it's going to be very depressing on campus monday. GBO... kick their kat nippin behinds!!!!

volsgirl writes:

in response to realmenwearorange:

with a new QB coming in next year bray will get better or he will not start at least not the whole year!

I think he will star unless he hurt....new one have to be in line....
Bray gona be great next year,wait and see...GBO

ncvol17 writes:

I hope by next year he doesn't have to wear the wrist band and look at every play. I hope he and all the WR's play catch all summer long when not in the weight room. The O line needs to eat and lift all spring and summer..No player should go home this summer..

BigVolFaninSC writes:

The thing I like about Bray the most is that after all 3 of his ints, he doesn't let it get him down! He comes right back and makes plays! I like a little bit of gunslinger in him, just not TOO much like Brett Favre! A complete QB will learn when to hold 'em and when to fold 'em!

Want to participate in the conversation? Become a subscriber today. Subscribers can read and comment on any story, anytime. Non-subscribers will only be able to view comments on select stories.

Features