The plan isn’t set, but it’s certainly in the works.
Coach Derek Dooley said Monday he didn’t know how much or how little freshman quarterback Tyler Bray would see the field Saturday against Alabama. But Bray, fresh off an impressive drive against Georgia second- and third-teamers, is definitely going to play, and it’s likely going to happen sometime in the first half.
“We’ll figure it out,” Dooley said. “Let’s watch this week of practice and see where we go ... I don’t want to get to halftime and we haven’t, but you never know how the game goes.”
Bray has spelled starter Matt Simms on two separate occasions this season, neither of which came when the game was in balance.
Against UT Martin in the season opener, Bray was an unimpressive 3-of-6 for 24 yards and an interception. In the Vols’ ugly loss to Georgia, though, Bray was one of the few bright spots, completing 8-of-12 passes for 81 yards and nearly leading the Vols to a touchdown.
Now, he’ll be hoping to recreate that success against one of the SEC’s most feared defenses.
“I’ve heard commentators say they’ve never seen it work when it happens,” senior wide receiver Gerald Jones said of rotating quarterbacks. “Shoot, we’re going to have to do something. It’s worth a try. We’re 2-4. Why not look at somebody else?”
Simms, who has stood tough in the pocket and remained relatively healthy despite taking more sacks than any quarterback in the SEC, said Dooley’s decision didn’t bother him.
“In fact, it’s actually pushing me to practice harder and prepare more just for that little added competition going on,” Simms said. “I love competition and I’m going to battle with whoever tries to take my job.
“I try not to worry about it ... Hey, he’s going to play a little bit but he hasn’t taken my job.”
Center Of Attention: Jarrod Shaw has six or seven games left in his career at UT, but it’s apparently not too late for him to learn a new position.
Since the Georgia loss, Shaw has received extra repetitions at center, and could very well be playing there against Alabama.
Shaw said his experience at center is limited to one day in the spring and a little work over the summer because “I didn’t think I was going to be there this season.”
The move would likely be expedited if guard Jer’Quari Schofield (foot) returns to the rotation Saturday.
“It’s kind of challenging being the guy that has to make all the calls and has to be 100 percent on assignments,” Shaw said. “It’s more of a big responsibility. As far as a physical challenge, it’s not that different.”
Darin Gooch has had his ups and downs since he came on to replace Cody Pope (stinger) for the third game of the season against Florida. His bad snap against Georgia lost the Vols 23 yards and pinned them close to their own end zone.
New ’Do: Safety Prentiss Waggner went back home to Clinton, La., for the long weekend.
He left all of his hair there on a barber shop floor.
Waggner, whose hair has stuck out from his helmet in long dreads since he arrived at UT, had nearly five year’s worth of hair cut off Friday, giving him an entirely new look to the delight and surprise of his teammates.
“I’ve been telling all the guys in training camp that one day I’m going to show up with a haircut,” he said. “They were placing friendly bets and all that. The whole team gave me a hard time, slapping me on my head when they saw it.”
Least Of UT’s Concern: After a number of upsets over the weekend, all six teams in the SEC East were left with at least two losses.
That, however, doesn’t change the fact that UT is the only team yet to win a conference game, Dooley said.
“God, if we’re looking at the SEC East standings we’ve got real problems,” Dooley said. “We need to be looking at our team and how we can win a football game.”
Andrew Gribble can be reached at 865-342-6327.