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Tennessee Stat Book
Dooley, who spent part of his Sunday afternoon acquiring details about the early morning arrest of freshman defensive end Jacques Smith, said he hadn't had time to sit down with junior Matt Simms or freshman Tyler Bray, but would later in the night.
"I'll probably address where we're headed on that (today) just because I feel like we need to sit down and talk to the players - like I do every week," Dooley said on his Sunday afternoon teleconference. "I just haven't had that chance."
One week after rotating time with Bray throughout the Alabama game, Simms, who has started every game this season, worked through the entire first half and was largely effective in Saturday's 38-24 loss at South Carolina. He completed 10 of his 13 passes for 153 yards and helped send the Vols into halftime tied when he connected with tight end Luke Stocker for a 12-yard touchdown pass.
Simms, though, had trouble holding onto the ball. Stationed at South Carolina's 12-yard line in the second quarter, he fumbled away a prime scoring opportunity after taking a sack from his blindside. He coughed up the ball again early in the third quarter, a play that quickly led to a South Carolina touchdown and prompted Dooley to go with Bray for the rest of the game.
After the game, Simms was outspoken regarding Dooley's decision.
"I was playing really well, extremely well," Simms said. "Probably the best game I've played all year. It's rough but hey, they made a decision and they stuck with it."
Bray's first pass resulted in a pick-six touchdown for the Gamecocks, but he rebounded with strong throws on back-to-back drives to ultimately help UT tie the game, 24-24, early in the fourth quarter. He finished 9-of-15 for 159 yards.
On the season, Simms is 110-of-189 for 1,406 yards, eight touchdowns and five interceptions. He's taken the vast majority of UT's SEC-worst 31 sacks allowed.
In spot duty, Bray is 25-of-47 for 303 yards, two touchdowns and three interceptions.
Asked specifically about Bray's progression throughout his freshman season, Dooley was brief Sunday, likely saving further detail for today's news conference.
"He's been getting a little bit better each week," Dooley said. "He's certainly not where we need him to be all the way."
Stonewalled: Freshman offensive lineman James Stone, who had been seeing regular action since JerQuari Schofield's foot injury Sept. 18 against Florida, did not play Saturday.
Stone started at left guard against UAB, LSU and Georgia, but was the odd man out of the rotation against Alabama when fellow freshman Zach Fulton took over at right guard. Senior Jarrod Shaw has started the previous two games at left guard.
Dooley said Stone is making the transition from guard to center, and, perhaps, needed some more seasoning.
"It wasn't really by design, but it was just one of those deals that you get a little nervous changing the center," Dooley said.
Lathers OK: Linebacker Herman Lathers "should be fine" after leaving Saturday's game with back spasms, Dooley said.
Hunting For An Answer: Wide receiver Justin Hunter was "OK" on Saturday, Dooley said, even though it appeared the freshman was hindered by a knee injury.
Since his four-catch, 110-yard performance against Georgia on Oct. 9, Hunter has rarely been targeted by either of UT's quarterbacks and has not caught a pass.