Tennessee Stat Book
Tennessee assistant coach Darin Hinshaw passed for more than 9,000 yards and 82 touchdowns at the University of Central Florida. But the passes don't all run together.
One from his sophomore season still sticks out.
He detected a blitz, checked to a post route, threw a touchdown pass, and thought, "This is pretty cool."
What happened after that was pretty cool, too, if you were a UCF fan. Hinshaw kept progressing, and the offense advanced right along with him.
"By my senior year, I was (checking off at the line of scrimmage) 75 percent of the time," Hinshaw said following a UT bowl practice. "The coach was calling the play but I knew what he wanted versus a defense."
Where Hinshaw has been is where he wants UT freshman quarterback Tyler Bray to go. The coach is confident the quarterback can get there.
Much of what Bray accomplished in five starts as a freshman was more about throwing than thinking.
You saw him throw four touchdown passes in the Music City Bowl against North Carolina on Thursday night. You also saw him throw three interceptions in a 30-27 double-overtime loss.
He has room to grow both physically and figuratively. And his growth could be one of the most intriguing aspects of UT's off-season.
The game plan already is in the works.
"He played at 195 to 200 pounds (this season)," Hinshaw said. "If we're at 210 or 215 next year, I would say that's a pretty good goal.
"Because he's so long at 6-foot-6, he can put on 25 pounds - not next year but over the course of his career. You're not going to see a ton of mass change that will cause a change in his throwing motion.
"He needs to continue to build mass. That will be big for him when he comes back in January."
For a quarterback, mass is armor. Self-protection at that position also is related to self-awareness.
Bray proved this season he could take a hit as well as avoid one.
Such attributes were hardly predictable since he demonstrated no prowess as a runner and looked frighteningly fragile by SEC football standards, but both became apparent under the heat of a pass rush.
Neither an innate sense for defensive pressure nor durability is a substitute for the armor that an off-season workout regimen can provide. Consider it prevent defense, administered to the Vols through the booming, passionate voice of strength and conditioning coach Benny Wylie.
Gaining weight isn't the only goal that Bray hopes to achieve in the weight room.
"Getting quicker would be nice," he said before the Music City Bowl. "Of course, arm strength will come with getting bigger."
He already has seen a difference in arm strength after one year in college. Throws he couldn't make in high school now come easily, he said.
"Strength can only take you so far," he adds, referencing his pursuit of an advanced degree in football.
A weight-room drill sergeant can't assist with that. It's more of a solo mission but no less important.
"He has got to understand defenses better," Hinshaw said. "And he's getting better at it every time he goes out on the field."
Bray won't take the field again until spring practice. There's even more time between spring and preseason camp.
That's a lot of time for homework. That's also a lot of time for UT's promising young quarterback to get stronger and quicker.
And elevate an entire offense in the process.