Baggett 'very pleased' with freshmen

Hunter, Rogers not lacking confidence

Charlie Baggett's most experienced receiver is wearing a splint on his hand.

Two more have been wearing red non-contact jerseys seemingly at every practice.

But Tennessee's receivers coach doesn't look like he's lost any sleep recently over having to throw a pair of true freshmen into the fire three games into their UT careers.

"I think these two young guys are a little bit different than a lot of young guys," Baggett said of Justin Hunter and Da'Rick Rogers after Wednesday's practice

"They're very confident in their ability, they've got some game experience now, so I think that they'll be able to go in and play whether they've got to start or come in (off the bench).

"We don't worry about it too much."

With the broken bone in Gerald Jones' hand and nagging minor injuries to Denarius Moore and Zach Rogers, Hunter and Da'Rick Rogers have shown flashes of the ability that had them so highly touted coming out of high school.

"It's hard on young kids to come in and play right away," Baggett said, "but these two guys have come in and picked up the system real well.

"We're very pleased with where they are right now. The whole thing is preparation and knowing what to do when you get in the game, it becomes second nature to you.

"That's the biggest thing about being a freshman, and it's hard to do that until you learn how to do that."

The 6-foot-4 Hunter, the talk of the Vols' preseason camp, caught two passes for first downs and a 35-yard touchdown against Florida, following up his acrobatic grab that set up UT's lone touchdown against Oregon.

Da'Rick Rogers, a former five-star recruit out of Georgia, had his 16-yard catch against the Gators nullified because he wasn't lined up correctly.

Baggett, who spent 11 years coaching in the NFL, said Hunter and Da'Rick Rogers are working mostly on route technique, reading defenses and making adjustments on the run - all while adjusting to the speed of the college game.

"It takes time," he said. "I had rookies in the NFL that had problems, so it takes a little time, but they're getting there."

Better Returns: Saturday will be Eric Gordon's third game as the Vols' punt returner, and the redshirt freshman cornerback is hoping to get a real shot to show his skills.

The Vols (1-2) only have four returns on 17 punts this season.

"Hopefully I can catch one without fair-catching it," Gordon said. "They kick them so high, but they don't always go as deep."

Gordon may not have many chances Saturday against UAB, either.

UAB's rugby-style punter Trey Ragland ranks third in the country in punting (48.4 yard average), and the Blazers (1-2) are fourth in the country in net punting.

Only five of Ragland's 15 punts have been returned, those going for minus-2 yards.

Nevertheless, Gordon is hoping to jumpstart UT's struggling return game.

"I feel like that'd be big," he said.

"Everybody knows Tennessee ain't been good on special teams in years, I'm just trying to change that."

Status Update: A visit to a doctor confirmed a stinger for center Cody Pope, who is still day-to-day and unlikely to play Saturday.

Moore (ankle), Zach Rogers (shoulder) and tailback Tauren Poole (thigh) all wore non-contact jerseys at Thursday's practice.

Linebacker Herman Lathers dressed, but did not practice and wore a brace on his right ankle. Savion Frazier was working with starters Nick Reveiz and LaMarcus Thompson.

Patrick Brown is a freelance contributor.

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Comments » 59

Tester423 writes:

justdooleyit2: Bray isn't transferring. He is guaranteed starter as a junior and still has a legit shot at it next year. Wherever u get ur information from is terrible.

smokeybitesback writes:

in response to justdooleyit2:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

where did you hear that about Bray? If it's true then it will suck for our Vols, but if he's just wanting to jump ship because he's not the starter this year then oh well..if that's the kind of young man he is then he would be better of with the spoiled brat, loser coach out west at USC..we will Nance there and Worley coming in

TKO writes:

in response to justdooleyit2:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Source?

jobrando#216494 writes:

in response to justdooleyit2:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Just hope we dont experiment with another Juco qb. If this is true we now know the rest of the story. Cant see him walking on at USC if he could not beat out Simm's. They will laugh him off the USC campus.

GreerVol22 writes:

I'd settle for a kicker than can get it past the 20 and inbounds.

Mule_Days_King writes:

in response to justdooleyit2:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Name your source. Back it up. Don't BS like this unless you know it to be true.
Just because his family didn't like K'ville doesn't mean he is leaving.

Stupid.

nocleats writes:

in response to BAMAVOL1:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Just like Rogers and Hunter, Simms has only played in 3 games as well. (Behind a potentially great but currently bad offensive line.) Try to keep this in mind.

wigmeister writes:

Back to the receivers. They are a great nucleus, getting a lot of experience. This was always going to be a growing year. We are really going to be better next year!

utfan36 writes:

in response to justdooleyit2:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

come on man name your source!dont just leave us hanging show some proof!if its true were losing a better qb than simms

nocleats writes:

Also need to sign another stud WR this year as well, so that when injuries occur, depth is there!

ut_vols_fan writes:

I couldn't agree more with myfuzzyvolz. I am typically a reader to see what's going on in-house and news with the team. But damn, it's like everyone thought the Vols were going undefeated this year and the fact that they lost to 2 top-10 teams is all Simms' fault. Suddenly the roof is fallin in, Bray's leaving (supposedly) and we might not win any more games. Suck it up Vols fans, support your coaching staff and team, and watch with pride as they develop into a better team as time passes. I really like what Dooley is instilling in these players and foresee a future team that is deep in both character and ability. Depth and experience will fix a lot of the woes we are currently seeing on Saturdays. GO VOLS!!!

TNLawVol writes:

in response to justdooleyit2:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

From what I read, his family moved back because of his little brother, not Tyler. Don't know if this was true or not, but it is just as likely as your post is.

IBleedOrange71 writes:

in response to myfuzzyvolz:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Amen myfuzzvolz...amen! I guess that I can assume that some of these Vol fans remember the days of old when we were going into a rebuilding year and they smashed everyone in the mouth. I was also hoping for the same this year, but we aren't there yet, but we will be! I love my Vols through thick and thin!

clcvol writes:

in regards to Bray "leaving because his family doesn't like it here".. I don't even expect his family to be here, considering his brother is still in high school in Cali.. and playing football there.

IBleedOrange71 writes:

in response to ut_vols_fan:

I couldn't agree more with myfuzzyvolz. I am typically a reader to see what's going on in-house and news with the team. But damn, it's like everyone thought the Vols were going undefeated this year and the fact that they lost to 2 top-10 teams is all Simms' fault. Suddenly the roof is fallin in, Bray's leaving (supposedly) and we might not win any more games. Suck it up Vols fans, support your coaching staff and team, and watch with pride as they develop into a better team as time passes. I really like what Dooley is instilling in these players and foresee a future team that is deep in both character and ability. Depth and experience will fix a lot of the woes we are currently seeing on Saturdays. GO VOLS!!!

Absolutely!!! I for one, see some really good things about Simms....and this team for that matter. I am looking forward to watching them grow this year and even more excited about next year. The thing that bugs me the most, is that it seems we have more injuries than most other teams!!! Someone please shed some light on this subject...please!!!

NorthwestVol writes:

in response to justdooleyit2:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

There's a string on Volnation.com regarding this that seems to have a bit more substance that this apparent shot in the dark. According to it his folks moved back to Cal so his younger brother could finish high school (plays QB). It quotes his dad as saying they loved Knoxville. Also reports Tyler is happy here as well.

Both theories may be bunk, but I think we have more important things to be concerned with at this point. Here's hoping Simms and the young receivers tear them up this weekend.

utfootballgirl writes:

A little off subject but....Don't know how many of you on here read "Cooking With Paula Deen" ;) but she has a great story about Coach Dooley in the September/October issue. Don't think you can view it online, but it's a great article with lots of quotes--and also a great pie recipe from Allison! I just think it's pretty impressive that our new coach values family and tradition enough to appear in one the premier cooking magazines out there (even though Paula is a huge Georgia fan!). One thing in particular that CDD said was "We don't have to reinvent the wheel here. We just need to reestablish what was so good for so long." I think I'll just eat a piece of pie and watch him do just that!! GO VOLS!

tnsportsman writes:

Tyler Bray isn't going anywhere but Tennessee, give me a break! If he plays against UAB that will be the tell-tell sign, CDD wouldn't play people he knows is thinking about transfer.

On subject: Justin and Da'Rick will be Top WRs in the SEC for 3 years before going Pro! This team is coming together and making the corrections as a young team. Simms and Bray has to love the outlook with such great WRs! A QB's dream!

GO VOLS, WE ARE UT!

nicknack1 writes:

in response to Tester423:

justdooleyit2: Bray isn't transferring. He is guaranteed starter as a junior and still has a legit shot at it next year. Wherever u get ur information from is terrible.

Well, the way Simms has played so far and as many times as he's getting hit, Bray might get to play more this year. Simms is a tough guy, but if we keep getting all this defensive pressure from teams, then we're gonna need fresh QB's. Bray isn't gonna transfer. That guy's info is wrong...alot

doolicious writes:

I've heard the same thing about Bray. Too bad.

hikerdude writes:

Anyone that says Simms is a good qb hasn't been watching the games. Good qbs don't throw the ball three yards behind the receiver on EVERY slant.

IBleedOrange71 writes:

in response to hikerdude:

Anyone that says Simms is a good qb hasn't been watching the games. Good qbs don't throw the ball three yards behind the receiver on EVERY slant.

I've watched all the games and he doesn't miss on every slant...nice try though.

Ayres_Hall writes:

I can't say if Matt Simms is a good QB, or not because I'm not qualifed enough to judge. So I'll glady defer to Derek Dooley and Jim Chaney. Why not join me?

Are some of you guys REALLY surprised with our play and record, so far, this year? Really?

Raise your hand if you thought we'd play well enough to beat two Top 10 teams?

Some of you guys need to learn to handle some adversity, as well.

orangecountyvols writes:

Let's not get excited when someone throws out a rumor on here. Best bet is to go with credible information from credible sources.

Back to the receivers, if people want to bring defenses up and crowd the line of scrimmage, that's when it might be a good idea to do our version of flooding the field..............with these receivers.
Perhaps spread the field and go with multiple receivers.........the options are very good.........
IF that is IF, we can get them the ball. We might not have time to go deep as much as we'd like, but some short routes, tight end involved, also a back coming out of the backfield...........all is possible IF we can just get them the ball.

Mobbdeep4life writes:

in response to jobrando#216494:

Just hope we dont experiment with another Juco qb. If this is true we now know the rest of the story. Cant see him walking on at USC if he could not beat out Simm's. They will laugh him off the USC campus.

Bray's younger brother wants to play football at his old high school so the family is moving back. No word that Bray is leaving. On volnation.com posters were saying that Bray likes UT and has no intentions on leaving. Ignore that guy until he can provide a source (which he won't).

jack_2222#231746 writes:

"Everybody knows Tennessee ain't been good on special teams in years, I'm just trying to change that."

Amen.

tnsportsman writes:

in response to BrayforHeisman:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Thanks VolPride15! That is exactly what I thought about the Bray Family, class and wonderful people!

Isn't younger brother playing QB in a Knoxville HS? I thought I read when they moved to Knoxville he enrolled in HS, can't remember which one?

GO VOLS, WE ARE UT!

Mobbdeep4life writes:

I haven't seen either receiver make many catches yet but I know that will change. I will say that what I have seen from Hunter leaves me impressed and excited about his future. Once "Bones" adds a little more weight and muscle he will be scary. That kid has super glue on his hands the way he's caught passes so far. I expect Rogers to excel too. By their junior season how would the opposing defense stop both of them?

tdvol1989 writes:

in response to myfuzzyvolz:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

You are right. I know that we are 1-2 and that is not good, but we have not beaten Florida since Meyer got there. Realistically, this was not the year. And, other than the fact it ended ugly, who could expect us to beat Oregon? So, the point is, what is so bad? It is WAY TOO EARLY to get frustrated with Simms.

If he struggles all season and shows no progress, then we can debate it. The key is if the tough games against Oregon, Florida, and Alabama groom him for UAB, Memphis, KY, and Vandy. As long as he gets better, we should not complain.

EVERYONE and I mean EVERYONE with ANY sense whatsoever knew this year would be tough. We were picked friggin' 5th in the East. And, that was not a slap in the face either. So give all the new guys (coaches and players) a chance to improve and enjoy the ride. It will mean more if everyone stays on board while the depth and experience builds.

And, if you are still upset about Phil, please go somewhere else because there is absolutely no reason to be upset about this season. It has been 10 yrs in the making.

gold12#1389721 writes:

I know that we want to be optimistic and make ourselves think that Matt Simms is or has the potential to be a good QB. I would like to think that to, but Tyler Bray is our best option and he is not playing. It's not because he's not good enough, it's because the coach if fixated on this old mind and thinking that experience prevails. I like coach Dooley and I think he will be fine, but this type of thinking would be a grave mistake. If we are going to lose, then I would rather lose with a QB who has potential and young then lose with an upperclassman who has experience, but not the fortitude and talent. Sometimes you just have to face the facts and deal with life's issues. If you're not good enough, then you're not good enough. Being more experience does not always translate into winning. It would seem like people would know this by now. Tyler Bray needs to play. He has the talent. It's better to lose with youth and inexperience then to lose with a seasoned veteran. Stop the maddness of playing favoritism and play to win - play talent.

tnsportsman writes:

in response to myfuzzyvolz:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

I'm ALL THE WAY IN TOO myfuzzyVolz!

BIG ORANGE LIFER until last breath!

GO VOLS, WE ARE UT! BEAT UAB!

civilianvol_formerly_marinevol writes:

in response to nocleats:

Just like Rogers and Hunter, Simms has only played in 3 games as well. (Behind a potentially great but currently bad offensive line.) Try to keep this in mind.

Very good and valid point. Also, he has played against some pretty good defenses, and has had to rush several throws and take many hits.

Tennacious writes:

Perseverance. Realistically we haven't lost to anyone whom we should have beaten. Is the team improving week to week? I would say yes. Martin was a scrimmage against the JV. From the first true game to the second we definitely improved. I just want them to play hard every down and to show improvement each week. If we can do that, we will qualify for a bowl, which gives the coaches an extra two weeks of practices.

This was always set up to be a difficult season, without losing players and changing coaching staffs.

NeylandWest writes:

in response to justdooleyit2:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Is this related to the rumor that someone spread from Volnation? If not and if you have proof, please post the link.

volfan4life1998 writes:

It would be stupid for Tyler to tranfers. He's not going anywhere. He will probably get a shot at starting later in the year. I recall Dooley saying we will need both QB to make it through the year.I say he gets some looks against UAB and after LSU he will be the starter.

BeRealistic writes:

Which coach brought Bray & Simms to UT?

IBleedOrange71 writes:

in response to gold12#1389721:

I know that we want to be optimistic and make ourselves think that Matt Simms is or has the potential to be a good QB. I would like to think that to, but Tyler Bray is our best option and he is not playing. It's not because he's not good enough, it's because the coach if fixated on this old mind and thinking that experience prevails. I like coach Dooley and I think he will be fine, but this type of thinking would be a grave mistake. If we are going to lose, then I would rather lose with a QB who has potential and young then lose with an upperclassman who has experience, but not the fortitude and talent. Sometimes you just have to face the facts and deal with life's issues. If you're not good enough, then you're not good enough. Being more experience does not always translate into winning. It would seem like people would know this by now. Tyler Bray needs to play. He has the talent. It's better to lose with youth and inexperience then to lose with a seasoned veteran. Stop the maddness of playing favoritism and play to win - play talent.

I'm pretty sure that CDD evaluates both QB's every week, so I know he isn't playing favoritism. He has been telling us all along, Bray isn't ready to run this offense. I would be safe to say that Bray would not have as good of numbers as Simms to this point. He probably would even be hurt by now.

Smokey_Told_Me writes:

in response to BeRealistic:

Which coach brought Bray & Simms to UT?

Which football coach brought the NCAA to UT?

....Smokey knows where the bones are buried.

allvols4life writes:

in response to gold12#1389721:

I know that we want to be optimistic and make ourselves think that Matt Simms is or has the potential to be a good QB. I would like to think that to, but Tyler Bray is our best option and he is not playing. It's not because he's not good enough, it's because the coach if fixated on this old mind and thinking that experience prevails. I like coach Dooley and I think he will be fine, but this type of thinking would be a grave mistake. If we are going to lose, then I would rather lose with a QB who has potential and young then lose with an upperclassman who has experience, but not the fortitude and talent. Sometimes you just have to face the facts and deal with life's issues. If you're not good enough, then you're not good enough. Being more experience does not always translate into winning. It would seem like people would know this by now. Tyler Bray needs to play. He has the talent. It's better to lose with youth and inexperience then to lose with a seasoned veteran. Stop the maddness of playing favoritism and play to win - play talent.

How did you get access to practice? I thought they were closed. You have so much knowledge about the Quarterback situation and who should be playing, you must be watching them practice. I am sure that Derek Dooley just doesn't want to play Bray because he is young. I am sure that a coach would not want to put the player out there that gives him the best chance to win. I am sure that makes sense to some, but not to me. If Bray gave us the best chance to win, then I am positive that Coach Dooley would be playing him. Since I don't have the special access to practice that you have, I just have to trust the coaches in their decisions. I don't disagree that Bray is talented and I think, in time, he will be a really good QB. But at this point, how do we know who is really better? None of us are at practice.

NO_DIGGITY writes:

in response to BeRealistic:

Which coach brought Bray & Simms to UT?

Lil Knox's Diddy? I heard he is changing that boy's name to Crenshaw Normandy Kiffin to fit in with SoCal.

ghawk writes:

in response to justdooleyit2:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

"Bray is transferring after this year and I hear he is going to walk on at USC. Family has already moved back. Looks like another year of one read Simms".

Bray's family is moving back because their younger son wants to finish school in Calif. This was reported earlier. We have a QB that can get the ball to our receiver num nuts. If you don't understand football any better than your comment would indicate....just give it up.

bUTchVFL writes:

in response to Tester423:

justdooleyit2: Bray isn't transferring. He is guaranteed starter as a junior and still has a legit shot at it next year. Wherever u get ur information from is terrible.

I have also heard that rumor from a friend that works in the athletic department as a student trainer. Hope it doesn't pan out that way.

jobrando#216494 writes:

I think we will know Saturday about Bray transferring. If we get a big lead and Bray gets no snaps then it's true.

BeRealistic writes:

in response to NO_DIGGITY:

Lil Knox's Diddy? I heard he is changing that boy's name to Crenshaw Normandy Kiffin to fit in with SoCal.

Best one I've heard,LOL. I knew the answer, but wondered what responses I would get. (Smokey told me) talks to dogs too much, he should go see Witch Doctor. Kidding aside, I believe we will come out strong tomorrow & have a great game.

ProwlinAndGrowlinSmokeyDog writes:

in response to myfuzzyvolz:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Not much to say after that..Great Post!!!

ProwlinAndGrowlinSmokeyDog writes:

in response to ut_vols_fan:

I couldn't agree more with myfuzzyvolz. I am typically a reader to see what's going on in-house and news with the team. But damn, it's like everyone thought the Vols were going undefeated this year and the fact that they lost to 2 top-10 teams is all Simms' fault. Suddenly the roof is fallin in, Bray's leaving (supposedly) and we might not win any more games. Suck it up Vols fans, support your coaching staff and team, and watch with pride as they develop into a better team as time passes. I really like what Dooley is instilling in these players and foresee a future team that is deep in both character and ability. Depth and experience will fix a lot of the woes we are currently seeing on Saturdays. GO VOLS!!!

Your post is right up there with fuzzyvol's post..Nice work guys!!!

cloudodust writes:

in response to BeRealistic:

Which coach brought Bray & Simms to UT?

Which coach(es) brought 90% of this team to Knoxville..?

FearThisElephant writes:

What happened to the discussion about the freshmen? UT is right where I thought they would be at this point with the exception of Oregon. I thought they would jump out on them due to being home and hang on for a W. They will suffer the L's to SC & Bama. They can beat LsWhoo & the Mutts. Nobody in November continues so a bowling they will go.

Only big puzzle I have seen is the staff's inability to substitute to keep fresh legs. There is a depth issue so any snap a starter can sit out helps in the fourth. I understand the theory of putting the best 11 on the field in all situations but mixing in a snap here & there would payoff in the 4th. Fortunately it won't be a problem against Bama Light. But it will down the road. As the keyboard turns....

BeRealistic writes:

in response to cloudodust:

Which coach(es) brought 90% of this team to Knoxville..?

That's what I wanted to hear. This is what Dooley & the players are experiencing, getting to know & laying a foundation for another top level program. These players & coaches will be proud to say they were part of this.

Orangeatang writes:

We gave Florida a game without our best receiver. Things are not as bad as they appear.

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