Derek Dooley after practice, March 31, 2011
Tennessee vowed to throw the playbook at Tyler Bray, though it didn't exactly specify how much of it.
Through nearly two weeks of practice, offensive coordinator Jim Chaney has a much more exact idea of how much he's asking the quarterback to soak in right now.
And heading into Saturday's first scrimmage of spring camp, the UT coaching staff will try to come up with another number to gauge just how much of the offense Bray has nailed down with a test in a game-like environment.
"We have our ups and downs throughout spring ball, but as far as installation, we're throwing it all at him," Chaney said. "He's swamped with it right now; we've probably got about 90 percent of the offense in, so we're about done with installation.
"From last year (for Bray), it's about 50 percent more. There's a lot more to it."
With his figurative plate so full right now, it's almost beside the point that Bray still could use a few more helpings on the literal one to continue adding some bulk to his frame.
Bray obviously has plenty of time to work on both the mental and physical aspect of his game before his sophomore season opens in September, but in terms of live work against a full defense in Neyland Stadium, there won't be many more opportunities like the one this afternoon. And while it isn't going to make or break his future if the recent rough patch he's gone through in practice continues for another day, UT certainly would prefer to see some progress considering how much influence Bray has on the rest of the offense.
"I think Tyler has been struggling a little bit the last two practices because we've put a lot in and there's a lot on him," Vols coach Derek Dooley said. "And I think when you're thinking and not just reacting you don't perform as well. We'll hopefully try to shave it down a little bit for the scrimmage to get him to try to play a little faster and more decisive.
"Here's Tyler, he's a year into it and he's not even close - so it's a long journey. The more he grows, the more we give him. There's really no end. That's the thing people don't realize. There's not like, 'OK, you've got it. You're done.' We're going to do as much as the quarterback can do."
Bray proved he could do plenty last season, when he took over for the last five games, winning four in a row to earn a bowl bid despite his limited knowledge of both UT's offense and the defenses he was facing.
In some ways, that splashy debut only has increased the pressure, attention and expectations on Bray, which already were pretty high even before he stepped on the field but have soared now that he's clearly at the top of the depth chart for the Vols. A shaky outing in a scrimmage is unlikely to change that, no matter how well backups Matt Simms or Justin Worley play when given the chance. But a strong performance might allow Chaney to open up the playbook even more during the practices UT has left on the schedule.
"All quarterbacks have their days, and I think Tuesday was a difficult day," Chaney said. "We didn't do very well - because he didn't do very well. (Thursday) was a little bit better, so we just continue. . . . I look for individual development by play. Ultimately, it's his job to move the ball down the field and score points, so we get judged by that. How many do we score and how many we don't score, but we're looking for development as a football player right now.
"You're calling plays now and he understands what they are. He's seeing the bigger picture better, he's throwing the ball accurate like he always does and we're real pleased with his development. He's doing fine, growing up the way he's supposed to."
A scrimmage should help the Vols figure out exactly how quickly Bray is doing it.