Game recap: Georgia 20, Tennessee 12
Tennessee Stat Book
Thumb wrapped, Tyler Bray slightly adjusted his course on the way to the locker room and headed for the family section behind the north end zone.
The Tennessee quarterback didn't appear to be delivering good news.
With little going right offensively as the Vols tried to establish themselves as a threat in the conference race, bad seemed to get worse late in the fourth quarter as Bray's throwing hand found the helmet of a Georgia defender and sent him to the sideline. UT added a score while he was receiving medical attention, but it wasn't enough to crawl back in a 20-12 loss on Saturday night at Neyland Stadium.
"He's not a doctor, so he doesn't know (if it's broken)," Vols coach Derek Dooley said. "He hurt his thumb, that's what we know.
"We'll find out when we X-ray it."
Even without a medical diagnosis, it was clear as soon as Bray winged a pass out to running back Marlin Lane and started favoring his right arm that something was wrong as the Vols (3-2, 0-2 SEC) tried to climb out of a hole it had created while managing just a pair of field goals over the first three quarters.
A simple test on the next snap for Bray provided an answer as to whether or not he could continue under center, and when an attempt fluttered out of his hand he went directly to the sideline and didn't return.
Former starter Matt Simms came in and completed a pair of crucial fourth-down passes and gave the Vols their only touchdown against the Bulldogs (4-1, 3-1 SEC) with a short sneak, but the ensuing onside kick went out of bounds and a last-gasp effort in the closing seconds didn't go anywhere.
But even before that the Vols had been struggling to generate much offense. Bray finished the game with 251 yards and completed 18 of his 33 attempts, but he had no help from a toothless rushing attack, faced consistent pressure from Georgia and also contributed to some of UT's issues with penalties with a delay of game and an intentional grounding.
Those problems weren't as glaring during the first half, with Bray leading a couple long drives that produced field goals and another that ended with a missed attempt from Michael Palardy. But it all compounded after intermission, with the Bulldogs putting up a pair of touchdowns to break a tie and never allowing the Vols do much else after that.
"We were doing some decent things, but we weren't generating some big plays," Dooley said. "Couldn't push it down the field the way we normally could, and that's a good defense so it requires a lot of patience. You know, they were playing good coverage, and I think we were getting impatient a little bit. I don't know.
"I think it was, we just could not get in rhythm out there. Give Georgia credit because they were controlling the ball, but it's frustrating."
To an offense already without one significant piece after losing wide receiver Justin Hunter for the season with torn ligaments in his knee, an injury of any sort could add to that feeling for Dooley.
Simms did some positive things in a limited sample size, but regardless of UT's confidence in the senior, it surely wasn't planning on dealing with the possibility of playing without Bray as the nation's top two teams await the next two weeks.
"I'm not exactly sure what happened to Tyler," Simms said. "I just knew that everyone was screaming my name and I just ran over there."