Simms upset with benching after fumbles

Game recap: UT vs South Carolina

COLUMBIA, S.C. - Thirty minutes of football had passed, and Tyler Bray was under the impression that Saturday wouldn't be his day to play.

"I thought (Matt) Simms was doing great," Bray said. "He was moving the ball downfield, making the right reads. I was fine with sticking with Simms as long as he was doing a good job."

Simms agreed - even after his second fumble of the game directly led to a South Carolina touchdown to open the second half.

"Nothing much I can do about getting hit in the back and the guy stripping the ball from me," Simms said. "That's one of the better defensive lines in the conference. Hey, if you get hit a lot the ball comes out.

"It wasn't like I dropped back and threw it back to the other team."

As Bray finished the game as Tennessee's quarterback, rallying from throwing an interception for a touchdown on his first pass attempt to lead two Vols scoring drives, Simms paced back and forth on the sidelines, visibly upset during the game and still fuming afterward.

"They were going to give (Bray) plenty of chances," Simms said. "That happens."

Coach Derek Dooley said he didn't want to discuss UT's turbulent quarterback situation heading into next week's game at Memphis. He did not, however, hesitate to explain first, why he pulled Simms in favor of Bray and, second, why he stuck with the true freshman after his costly mistake resulted in a Devin Taylor 24-yard interception return for a touchdown.

"Matt did some good things early but we held the ball twice and then gave up a turnover twice on a sack," Dooley said. "You just can't do that. Those are critical mistakes."

Simms' first fumble prevented the Vols from scoring seven points and eventually led to a Marcus Lattimore 1-yard touchdown run. The second resulted in a quick seven for South Carolina to start the second half, snapping a 10-10 halftime tie within the first three minutes.

On third-and-goal from the 12-yard line midway through the second quarter, Simms, hampered a bit by a sore left knee, stood in the pocket and surveyed his options. By the time Simms opted to throw it away, South Carolina's Cliff Matthews brought him down from his blindside, popping the ball loose into the hands of Taylor.

Simms was brought down in nearly exact fashion two plays into the second half, and Dooley had seen enough.

"We can't put the ball on the ground when we get hit," Dooley said. "Couple of bad events. We have to learn from it, grow from it and move on."

Dooley just didn't move in a new direction after Bray's interception, the result of South Carolina's defense dropping Taylor, a defensive end, back into coverage. It was something Bray had never seen before, Dooley said, and "I didn't want to beat him up too bad over that one play."

After Spencer Lanning's extra point put the Gamecocks up 24-10, Bray, shortly after he learned he would be returning to the field, gathered his wide receivers and running backs together on the sideline.

"I said 'Guys don't worry about it,' " Bray recalled. " 'It's my fault, we'll move on from here and let's put a drive together.' "

After a Chad Cunningham fake punt run breathed new life into a stifled Vols' drive, Bray threw his best pass in a Vol uniform to date, hitting Denarius Moore in stride for a 30-yard touchdown pass. On the following offensive possession, Bray escaped the pocket and found Moore wide open for a 62-yard completion. He hit Gerald Jones with a strike for a 16-yard touchdown pass one play later to tie the score, 24-24.

Bray's success, and UT's as a whole, hit the skids thereafter, as he finished 9-of-15 for 159 yards.

"I went out there and did my best," Bray said. "Whatever they decide is their decision."

Simms, who finished 10-of-13 for 153 yards, wasn't as politically correct.

"I wish I could say that I'm definitely the starting quarterback," Simms said. "It's unfortunate they took me out. I felt like I played really well. I feel like I could have made all those throws because we had guys wide open down the middle of the field.

"I feel like I'm a good enough quarterback to make those plays and I'm just still upset that I got taken out like that."

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 » 203

txvolsfan writes:

Thought Bray looked good!!!
What did OKU do to earn the doghouse?

ViT writes:

I'm sure Matt wasn't referring to Tyler's interception with his comment about throwing it to the other team, but the coaches shouldn't have let him speak to the press after the game as he was obviously upset with being pulled and that was reflected in his selfish comments.

ZALWEED writes:

Sims should be upset...he is by far the best quarterback out there. All good QB's fumble the ball on mulitple occasions in a game...you heard him, it was the OLine's fault. And he would have hit those 'wide-open' receivers in the second half if Dooley hadn't pulled him. This is ridiculous!

Lean_and_Hungry writes:

I agree with Matt. No knock on Bray.

wallingdad writes:

this reads to me that Simms is a legend in his own mind.

ridge_runner16#368042 writes:

It's to bad about Simm's, I think the play calling puts him in bad positions, then he holds onto the ball to long. Bray is our future so he needs to get some experience but we were in the game and if we would have run the ball on the 6 yard line maybe Simms doesn't turn it over and maybe he doesn't get pulled. 10-13 for 153 yards and a TD is not bad stats for a half. He didn't cause us to loose, bad play calling, stupid penalties and weak special teams did (the fake punt was nice though). I still think we need to hire a good O coordinator before we turn things around...why do you think Kiffin didn't take him with?

Bufforange00 writes:

if there were wide open receivers, then why weren't you hitting them, SIMMS?

Bray has much more upside and moved us smartly down the field (2 TDS).

A good comparison is Rick Clausen (Simms) and Erik Ainge (Bray). Clausen had a high completion percentage but was not dynamic and was not a difference maker.

IMHO, Bray is a difference maker in the making and Simms a retread, keeping the seat warm until Bray is ready for it. The wait appears to be over.

dwa7#337691 writes:

oh well.........early prediction:

UT 33
Mem fans 24 (I hope!)

shorttail writes:

simms and bray KNOW they have only 2 seconds to get rid of the ball, bash the off. line not the QB'S ----- AUBURN'S QB HAS TIME TO EAT A BOLOGNA SANDWITCH

ZALWEED writes:

send him to vandy!

flstf writes:

He should be upset. He has taken the punishment, made the throws and is the better QB. Bray would have been broken into by now. Simms has earned the job.

PUL4VOLS writes:

No matter we lost the game. Bray's int. for a td was as much part of the loss as anything Simms did. This team overall looked better. The last thing they need is a qb controversy. So coaches, you figure it out. No matter what we think, the coaches have the final say. I'm just glad we scored more than 10 points.

OTPVol writes:

Transition. Frustrating as it is, play as a team, keep the back biting in house. GBO!!!

shorttail writes:

in response to ZALWEED:

Sims should be upset...he is by far the best quarterback out there. All good QB's fumble the ball on mulitple occasions in a game...you heard him, it was the OLine's fault. And he would have hit those 'wide-open' receivers in the second half if Dooley hadn't pulled him. This is ridiculous!

THERE'S NOT QB IN THE SEC THAT COULD DO BETTER THEN SIMMS WITH THIS OFF. LINE, HE SHOULDN'T HAVE TO TAKE A HIT EVERY TIME HE THROWS THE BALL

jobrando#216494 writes:

in response to ZALWEED:

Sims should be upset...he is by far the best quarterback out there. All good QB's fumble the ball on mulitple occasions in a game...you heard him, it was the OLine's fault. And he would have hit those 'wide-open' receivers in the second half if Dooley hadn't pulled him. This is ridiculous!

Heck, I agree with you 200 percent. Matt was well on his way to legend status. Just not fair. Fire Doodley

jeffmoore126 (Inactive) writes:

Thought Simms got thrown under the bus by the coaching staff. If Bray is better then start him and stay with him.

Lostvolinhighweeds writes:

Simms has been making the same mistake all year, holding the ball to long. Too bad he doesn't take as long deciding what to say as he does deciding when to throw.
If I were Coach Dooley, I'd be tempted to glue his behind to the pine and his gums together.

RockyBears2009 writes:

really? you aren't phil and you aren't chris....you're matt simms and not the dynamic QB like your dad/brother- matt makes stupid little mistakes that a 4th year guy in college ball shouldn't do. period. i'm glad he transferred to ut and created some competition this season, but he's making freshman mistakes (interceptions that he can't blame on the OL and holding the ball for years at a time). play the better "freshman" in bray.

bray looked good today. 1 small mental error on that interception, but he looked really good for a young guy. heck of an arm, great size....this kid needs to work with peyton in the offseason and he may be the first really good QB we've had here in a long time-

kabulvol writes:

I didnt get to see the game here in Afghanistan. But, perhaps Dooley felt with Simms' lack of mobility due to the knee + our shoddy line play then he had to make a change. Simms needs to suck it up and quit talking to the press. Its natural to be upset but in the end, suck it up. Its a team game.

homeemailjan#1363799 writes:

At least this game we played 3 good quarters instead of 2....maybe soon we'll string 4 good ones together.....

GoVols1974 writes:

Bray is the better QB, period. Matt's blaming the O-line, Bray is taking responsibility, which one is the Freshman again?

FWBVol writes:

in response to ridge_runner16#368042:

It's to bad about Simm's, I think the play calling puts him in bad positions, then he holds onto the ball to long. Bray is our future so he needs to get some experience but we were in the game and if we would have run the ball on the 6 yard line maybe Simms doesn't turn it over and maybe he doesn't get pulled. 10-13 for 153 yards and a TD is not bad stats for a half. He didn't cause us to loose, bad play calling, stupid penalties and weak special teams did (the fake punt was nice though). I still think we need to hire a good O coordinator before we turn things around...why do you think Kiffin didn't take him with?

ridge_runner, I think you've been sampling some of what you are running on that ridge.

About the only thing I agree with that you wrote is that Bray is the future at QB.

Bray and Simms have basically the same plays called for them so how does that put Simms in any worse of a position than Bray because of the play calling.

I feel like a broken record posting this, but the OC, Jim Chaney isn't the problem. He was the OC for a guy named Drew Brees at Purdue.

The problem is there are times we have as many as eight first-year players on the field at the time.

Throughout a large part of the second half we had no fewer than six true freshmen on the field on offense and a sophomore center that was playing JC ball a last year. The upperclassmen, depending on how long they have been on the team, are now in their second, third or fourth offensive system.

Play calling is dictated by the personnel you have in the game and what they are capable of doing with the offensive package.

All that said, we had more than 400 yards in total offense today and that tells me someone was calling some good plays.

It's hard to blame the coaching staff for the penalties, and, the special teams play, other than the botched punt by Gordon, was pretty good today.

The problem I have with Simms is he seems to think he's entitled to an explanation from his boss...Derek Dooley.

I understand that he was upset about not playing in the second half, but belly aching about it to the press, and I'm sure anyone else who would listen to him, can be a poison for the team that needs to be united.

Simms needs to get over his false sense of entitlement and handle things like a man. He should accept his part of the responsibility for the fumbles and grow from it, but instead he makes excuses.

CharlotteVol writes:

in response to steviejanowski:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

I'm with you PL. Simms had a terrible game, and it sounds like he thought it was pretty good. If his standards aren't any higher than that, he should not be leading any football team. Go Vols

xpsyclonex2002 writes:

You can't hold the ball. That is Simms flaw. That is why he got benched. I could read Dooleys lips once in the second quarter when he dropped the ball. As Matt was walking to the sidelines you could read Dooleys lips telling him to get rid of the ball and you could see Simms saying "I Know" as he walked away like he was tired of hearing about it. Right now I hope they keep Simms in at QB. Bray needs to stay healthy this season so that he will be able to take the helm next season. This season is a write off.

volsreign writes:

in response to ZALWEED:

Sims should be upset...he is by far the best quarterback out there. All good QB's fumble the ball on mulitple occasions in a game...you heard him, it was the OLine's fault. And he would have hit those 'wide-open' receivers in the second half if Dooley hadn't pulled him. This is ridiculous!

"All good QB's fumble the ball on mulitple occasions in a game"? Really?? You sound like Terrell Pryor--"Everybody kills people". Sure, our line is bad, but on those plays he had 5 seconds to stand like a statue in the pocket before he got hit. Plenty of time to throw it away if no one was open. At least Bray tries to step up in the pocket and when he's hit in the back he holds on to the ball.

jbocap writes:

OK...I like Matt Simms...but this is a TEAM sport, not a Matt Simms sport. By this time in the season, Simms should have improved enough to not make those critical mistakes. I dont fault Dooley going with Bray.
Also, not a class act to dog your fellow freshman QB. "Its not like I dropped back and threw it back to the other team"... "Hey, if you get hit alot, the ball comes out"...Really Matt? Even if you're frustrated...some comments are not for public consumption. You have gripes...be a man, and keep it in-house. You win no brownie points with me with comments like that!

Vol737 writes:

Saw the press conference with Simms after the game.....he was still holding the ball.

ETownVol writes:

Bray looked to be the better of the two. Sorry Phil's son but you're a Big East reject in the SEC. Can't expect anymore chances than what you've already been given. Bray is the superior QB on this team as a true freshman. Speaks volumes of Simms' ability.

IN_Volfan writes:

Earlier this season, Simms was saying all the right things and seemed to be a team player - gained my respect. Now he starts losing his grip on the starting position and starts whining - losing respect.

ProwlinAndGrowlinSmokeyDog writes:

When Dooley pulled Simms in the third quarter, I questioned it because who's to say that he wouldn't have led the Vols to a TD on the very next drive.Chances are he probably wouldn't have fumbled again, plus his first half stats were really good.

I agree that he has taken a beating because a lack of protection from the OL, BUT he can't hang on to the ball for as long as he does and expect the protection to hold up with a VERY YOUNG offensive line.

I defended him prior in other posts prior to this game, but it's really hard to do after his selfish remarks..If he doesn't like it, then do something about it and practice that much harder to ensure that the starting job will be his.

I must say that I was impressed with Bray after the INT..He certainly made up for it with those two TD passes..The future is definitely bright at the QB postion especially with Justin Worley coming in next year.

Even though I question the decision to pull Simms, it is their decision to make no matter what I think.

phunpharm writes:

I would bench Simms for back-biting. There is no room for that. This team is playing their hearts out and it does not need the pressure of someone trying to divide the team. It is a priviledge to start at TN, not a right!
Go Vols!

TommyJack writes:

Let Bray have one bad game and you mopes will be sceaming for Simms.

CharlotteVol writes:

in response to jbocap:

OK...I like Matt Simms...but this is a TEAM sport, not a Matt Simms sport. By this time in the season, Simms should have improved enough to not make those critical mistakes. I dont fault Dooley going with Bray.
Also, not a class act to dog your fellow freshman QB. "Its not like I dropped back and threw it back to the other team"... "Hey, if you get hit alot, the ball comes out"...Really Matt? Even if you're frustrated...some comments are not for public consumption. You have gripes...be a man, and keep it in-house. You win no brownie points with me with comments like that!

Well said

lyafarre writes:

Seems like a bit of that infamous Matt Simms attitude leaked out during the press conference. As far as Dooley's decision, I agree with it. Simms consistently holds onto the ball for too long and seems to be unable to find guys when they're open. You might be able to coach a freshman out of that stuff, but not a fourth year player like Simms.
Bray's got issues, but also a lot more talent and upside. I think Dooley had already decided to pull the trigger on Simms, and his two fumbles just made it happen a little sooner.

volfan4life1998 writes:

These Matt Simms groupies know nothing about football. When your 2-6 you plan for your future. Bray looked better than Simms anyway. He just won the starting job and Simms know it thats why he's out whining to the media. The throw in the endzone to Moore Simms would have NEVER made because he can't anticipate throws. He would have thrown it late and it would have probably been picked. Just like the pick in the endzone against Bama was open he just threw it too late. Bray has way more of an upside and if we want to build our program back we have to have a QB for the future... which isn't Simms. Him making these comments to the media is ridiculous! He's only a team player when things are going his way. We don't need a cancer like that on our team.

GerryOP writes:

Simms is disappointed ... as he should be. But stop making it look like he is trashing Bray, Dooley, the team, and everyone else. From what I can find, the press is blowing up two paragraphs of Simms spouting off. He's just upset ... and he's still a kid.

Take a deep breath, sit back, and relax. Dooley'll handle it. We need both of these guys.

lyafarre writes:

in response to ZALWEED:

Sims should be upset...he is by far the best quarterback out there. All good QB's fumble the ball on mulitple occasions in a game...you heard him, it was the OLine's fault. And he would have hit those 'wide-open' receivers in the second half if Dooley hadn't pulled him. This is ridiculous!

Matt Simms comments from the year 2020:
"How much you wanna make a bet I can throw a football over them mountains? Yeah. Coach woulda put me in fourth quarter, we would've been state champions. No doubt. No doubt in my mind."

tapeworm writes:

Now we're beginning to see the Simms that Louisville basically ran off. I can't say that I disagree with his sentiments about being benched, but his concerns belong in the locker room with Dooley - not in the press. When he was at Louisville, his big problem was a sense of entitlement, and it was also advanced by his father, Phil as well. Needless to say, he was a divisive force in the locker room. That behavior bought him a ticket to a jr. college.

Ibleedorangeforlife writes:

It's a no brainer Bray is the new QB ! Simms is a cry baby . I keep reading how it's all the o-lines fault and poor pitiful Simms . Look the o-line can only hold their blocks for so long he has to learn to make a read and go all this holding on to ball created most of sacks . Simms does not the attitude to be a VOLUNTEER, he should go to USC besides they like self absorbed morons out there just look at their coach .

GoVols1974 writes:

in response to Vol737:

Saw the press conference with Simms after the game.....he was still holding the ball.

I saw it also, then he dropped the ball, wasn't his fault though, dang reporters!!!

homeemailjan#1363799 writes:

Rarely does a team play championship football using 2 quarterbacks. It only means you don't you have one that's good enough. Unfortunately, that's where we are right now. Whoever proves he's good enough to do it all should be our guy...Bray seems to have more potential, but Dooley is the guy who gets the big bucks to make those decisions, so let's hope he's smart enough to make it...

vol68 writes:

in response to shorttail:

simms and bray KNOW they have only 2 seconds to get rid of the ball, bash the off. line not the QB'S ----- AUBURN'S QB HAS TIME TO EAT A BOLOGNA SANDWITCH

I hope since it is Halloween weekend that you did mean to spell sandwich sandwitch.

The7Maxims writes:

Simms should feel confident in his abilities no matter what; we all saw the difference a little confidence made in Crompton. However, I disagree with Simms spouting off. As a senior, Tom Brady was bencher at Michigan for a minor league pitcher, and he never cried once. Some times, you've got to swallow your pride and take one for the team.

However, I think many of us felt that Bray would take over at this point of the season. The schedule gets a little easier. The OLine is playing better. Bray gets the ball out faster, and he is more accurate. I'd rather Bray get this experience in November so he's ready for 2011.

Personally, I expect Simms to go into media/communications like his dad; I think he has the personality for it. He may get an opportunity in coaching. I hope he has an opportunity to redeem himself, and I expect that he'll get chewed out by Dooley. But, I want to start building for 2011 and make sure Bray is ready to roll.

MrBamSeydu writes:

Matt,

You've had GAMES to get better. You're a 4th year (or 5th year???) junior. You're doing about as well as a true freshman with next to 0 college experience at this point.

Matt Simms has peaked. He's not going to get much better. Bray hasn't even scratched the surface of his potential. That's why you were taken out, Matt. Well... that and the fact that you want to stand and pat the ball after a 3-step drop (fumble #1).

Bufforange00 writes:

in response to Leeroyphi136:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

That's nonsense. B J couldn't even beat crompton or stevens out. He belongs at UTC or Carson Newman.

usnavyvolfaninva_still_getting_paid writes:

in response to shen24:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Why don't you take your own advice and go blog on your own team's site, troll?

slambob2#228938 writes:

We need both quarterbacks to gain experience. Frankly, Bray is the future QB and this year is totally shot, so we might as well get some time for these young guys.
Simms is tough and deserves respect. And he played well today, but he needs to start finishing drives. Bray looked good finishing.

Titan writes:

in response to FWBVol:

ridge_runner, I think you've been sampling some of what you are running on that ridge.

About the only thing I agree with that you wrote is that Bray is the future at QB.

Bray and Simms have basically the same plays called for them so how does that put Simms in any worse of a position than Bray because of the play calling.

I feel like a broken record posting this, but the OC, Jim Chaney isn't the problem. He was the OC for a guy named Drew Brees at Purdue.

The problem is there are times we have as many as eight first-year players on the field at the time.

Throughout a large part of the second half we had no fewer than six true freshmen on the field on offense and a sophomore center that was playing JC ball a last year. The upperclassmen, depending on how long they have been on the team, are now in their second, third or fourth offensive system.

Play calling is dictated by the personnel you have in the game and what they are capable of doing with the offensive package.

All that said, we had more than 400 yards in total offense today and that tells me someone was calling some good plays.

It's hard to blame the coaching staff for the penalties, and, the special teams play, other than the botched punt by Gordon, was pretty good today.

The problem I have with Simms is he seems to think he's entitled to an explanation from his boss...Derek Dooley.

I understand that he was upset about not playing in the second half, but belly aching about it to the press, and I'm sure anyone else who would listen to him, can be a poison for the team that needs to be united.

Simms needs to get over his false sense of entitlement and handle things like a man. He should accept his part of the responsibility for the fumbles and grow from it, but instead he makes excuses.

Well said. Hard to do, but I think we just saw the entire O Line get thrown under the bus.

Prostar writes:

If we all see it why can't Simms see it? He holds the ball entirely too long. He can't throw the long ball, Bray can. Simms needs to throw quick hitters. Tyler is playing with the same OL as Simms, know your limitations and work to your strengths. I liked DaRick today.

tmartin writes:

He sucks, his brother sucked. Now this one is a whiney b#$%^. I bet dad is proud.

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