Matt Simms on his return: 'I played terrible'

Senior QB shoulders blame after loss to LSU

AMY SMOTHERMAN BURGESS/NEWS SENTINEL
Tennessee quarterback Matt Simms walks to the huddle against LSU at Neyland Stadium on Saturday, Oct. 15, 2011.

Photo by Amy Smotherman Burgess, ©KNS/2011

AMY SMOTHERMAN BURGESS/NEWS SENTINEL Tennessee quarterback Matt Simms walks to the huddle against LSU at Neyland Stadium on Saturday, Oct. 15, 2011.

Matt Simms wasn't looking for a brighter side.

Shortly after his return to the Tennessee lineup at quarterback wrapped up, the senior was back at the postgame podium and breaking himself down in brutal, honest fashion.

The receivers dropped balls that were thrown pretty well, Simms again proved he could take a hit and he was praised for his ability to manage UT's running game against one of the best defenses in the nation. But other than a chance to knock a little rust off on Saturday at Neyland Stadium, Simms wasn't able to do much with the opportunity he'd been waiting nearly a year for and was visibly bothered by it after a 38-7 loss to No. 1 LSU.

"I played terrible," Simms said. "Simple as that. I played terrible.

"It was tough, and it starts with me. I'm just really disappointed in myself."

He kept the finger pointed at himself following his first outing since taking over thanks to Tyler Bray's broken thumb, an injury that puts Simms back in charge for at least a month and possibly the rest of the regular season.

There were some ready-made excuses available, starting with the aggressive, physical defense the Vols (3-3, 0-3 SEC) were facing and including issues that had plagued them even when Bray was at the helm.

The offensive line didn't allow a sack but wasn't able to take all the pressure off Simms in the pocket or keep him from taking some vicious shots from the Tigers (7-0, 4-0 SEC). The running game was improved with Simms able to check UT into some better plays, though 111 yards on 29 carries doesn't exactly qualify as lighting it up on the ground. And while Da'Rick Rogers appeared to embrace the challenge the LSU secondary was providing, he finished with just three receptions for 63 yards and contributed to the handful of catchable balls the receivers put on the ground.

But even with all that on the table, Simms shouldered the blame for an ugly 6-of-20, 128-yard passing performance that included a pair of interceptions on deep balls, with the picks clearly at the front of his mind.

"I mean, I felt good," Simms said. "Obviously I was looking forward to this game, but the one interception there, I mean, both interceptions in the first half were just terrible decisions.

"On the one play, where I tried to throw the post to Rajion (Neal), I just read it as the wrong coverage, and they made me pay for it. I'm just extremely disappointed in myself for those two plays. They ended up hurting us."

The first cost the Vols a touchdown that opened the scoring and staked LSU to an early lead after a scoreless first quarter, though it was the 89-yard return by Morris Claiborne that really did the damage.

The second didn't actually end up producing anything for the Tigers after UT responded to the turnover by forcing a quick three-and-out on defense. But with the Vols unable to ever establish a rhythm or find a bit of consistency offensively, just one mistake was all it really took for LSU to be on its way to ruining the hopes Simms had of a happy return.

"I think in any game versus any opponent, really, you just can't have mental mistakes like that, breakdowns in execution of a play," Simms said. "You know, we didn't help ourselves, and I definitely didn't help the offensive line by turning it over twice like I did. And I definitely didn't put the defense in a good position either by turning it over twice like that.

"I'm just disappointed in myself, and I need to get better."

Austin Ward covers Tennessee football. He may be reached at 865-342-6274. Follow him at http://twitter.com/Vols_Beat and http://blogs.knoxnews.com/ward.

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Comments » 92

twin942 writes:

Well, what can you say? I like Matt, love his spirit and really like that he wants to succeed for the Vols. But he didn't play well. Those picks weren't good.

scvols writes:

Yeah, a little over 100,000 saw it live, while a mil saw it on TV.

born2ride writes:

Simms can't throw the ball.

We can't run it.

The defense can't stop anybody.

Kicking is an adventure.

Coaching is poor.

The only remaining games we are sure to win are against MTSU and Kentucky.

Vol737 writes:

in response to twin942:

Well, what can you say? I like Matt, love his spirit and really like that he wants to succeed for the Vols. But he didn't play well. Those picks weren't good.

True story. If you watched the replay on both of those picks, there was a tight end or other WR (not sure) wide open both times down field about 20 yards or so. You don't always have to play the hero and thread a needle. My dad used to tell me on the golf course when I had a tough lie..."take what it will give you and move on." Same for Simms. Hit the open guy, doesn't matter if he's 5, 10, 20, 30 yards down field. Take what the defense gives you.

dvols writes:

the kid mans up!

TN would not have won with Bray, Hunter, and Dorsett!

TN fans got your back Matt!

Hope Bray is enjoying you taking on LSU and BAMA two yrs in a row!

VolinCalif writes:

in response to twin942:

Well, what can you say? I like Matt, love his spirit and really like that he wants to succeed for the Vols. But he didn't play well. Those picks weren't good.

Yep. But I think Matt will show up for Al.We have to remember this is his first start in a year, and I am sure he was too pumped up to do great that it got in his way. I know that I would have been. But take away those picks and he did a fair job. He is going to play much better the rest of this year If he and the Rec's get it together and Poo keeps improving we may well only lose to Al. That could also be an upset but don't really think so this year.
Go Vols

fshnhol writes:

The only bright side of this game was Devrin Young! This kid is going to be tremendous for Tennessee.

volinlouisiana writes:

Keep plugging away Matt. Obviously, still a couple of years away from being able to compete, but I love the coaches and guys like Simms, who give it their all.

rabidvol1998 writes:

I like Matt. I wish he were as good of a QB as he seems to be a man. I'll be there to watch him beat SC. Go Vols

beartn#223846 writes:

There were some bright spots. Devrin Young, as somone already mentioned. We also make huge strides in the running game against a tough defense (going from horrific to mediocre in one week is a big step. IF the OL continues to improve at this pace through this season, that bodes well for next year). I also think our two freshmen LB's are going to be very good. DL played pretty well until they ran out of gas. We need more bodies at DT (does Crouch play much? never heard his name called). I'm cautiously optimisitic about the 2012 season.

murrayvol writes:

in response to born2ride:

Simms can't throw the ball.

We can't run it.

The defense can't stop anybody.

Kicking is an adventure.

Coaching is poor.

The only remaining games we are sure to win are against MTSU and Kentucky.

"we"??? Get serious.

murrayvol writes:

Two bad things happened on the Claiborne int. One was obvious. The other was not checking down to a wide open TE over the middle.

Walk it off Matt. Manure happens. We got games to play.

oldster writes:

Matt Simms is not the kind of QB that can win games by himself. He could be a winner with a team like LSU or Alabama. That being said, he gives his best effort for his team, his coaches, his school and his family. He has taken disappointment and dealt with it and been there when needed. Phil Simms might not have bred another NFL QB, but he raised something more important, a man. Way to go Phil!

oldster writes:

in response to SpongeBobOrangePantz:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

About what pity party are you talking? Surely, you were not directing that comment at Matt Simms. There did not appear to be any pity or request for pity in his statment. He was taking the blame for a loss on himself. That is not anything close to saying, "poor, poor pitiful me."

oldster writes:

in response to fshnhol:

The only bright side of this game was Devrin Young! This kid is going to be tremendous for Tennessee.

I think you must have been watching the game with sunglasses on. I also saw other bright spots. Our offensive line actually opened some holes. Our running backs ran with some conviction. Our DB's did not give up a bomb. Our kicker actually kept both his kickoffs in the field of play and got them inside the 5. We had no punts blocked and no real bad punts and gave up no returns. In other words, our special teams and running games actually began to show some signs of life. Those things are every bit as encouraging as Mr. Young.

oldster writes:

in response to MerlOT_GoVols:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

There were not 10 dropped passes. Each of the Rogers dropped one each on third down that would have continued drives (Da'Rick's 4th such in 6 games) and Zach missed another that would have been a tough, but not impossible catch. However, are you suggesting that coaches teach these guys to drop passes? Do you think that they do not work on catching passes? Do you think that they should not play anyone who ever drops a pass? If coaches did not play anyone who ever droped a pass then even Jerry Rice would have never played. There is no one who ever played a "skill" position other than QB for even as long as a year that never dropped a pass (well, maybe some FB's who only served as blockers).

oldster writes:

in response to Bryanbleedsorange:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

So you think a "name" coach can make a silk purse out of a sow's ear. Well, Monte Kiffin was and is about as big a name in defensive coordinators as there was when he came here. I do not recall his defensive teams exactly setting the world on fire while he was here. In fact, I do not think I have ever seen a defense any less prepared for a game than the bowl game when VA Tech dismembered and humiliated us.

BSweet writes:

Matt just needs to make his reads instead of forcing the ball into coverage. Hopefully when he watches the game film he'll see the importance of that. On that first pick to Da'Rick, Mychal was running wide open down the center of the field. Focus more on keeping drives alive and less on making spectacular plays.

VolinCalif writes:

in response to oldster:

Matt Simms is not the kind of QB that can win games by himself. He could be a winner with a team like LSU or Alabama. That being said, he gives his best effort for his team, his coaches, his school and his family. He has taken disappointment and dealt with it and been there when needed. Phil Simms might not have bred another NFL QB, but he raised something more important, a man. Way to go Phil!

Oldster I like you . I too am older than dirt.

kantanuuv writes:

in response to born2ride:

Simms can't throw the ball.

We can't run it.

The defense can't stop anybody.

Kicking is an adventure.

Coaching is poor.

The only remaining games we are sure to win are against MTSU and Kentucky.

True dat. Fortunately for you, MTSU ain't no Wyoming.

posivol writes:

practice squad qb at best,whers cooter whgen you need him.

volpreacher writes:

in response to fshnhol:

The only bright side of this game was Devrin Young! This kid is going to be tremendous for Tennessee.

And a defense that played really well, especially in the first half, running the ball for over 100 yds against a defense that previously only allowed one team to run for over 100. This team is getting better. Had Bray and Hunter been playing all year, who knows what would have happened. I'm not convinced that we wouldn't be sitting 6-0 going into Alabama week had they been healthy all year.

rsummie#211799 writes:

"He kept the finger pointed at himself following his first outing since taking over thanks to Tyler Bray's broken thumb, an injury that puts Simms back in charge for at least a month and possibly the rest of the regular season."

All I can say is if Simms is in for the remainder of the regular season, I think any chance of a post season is in doubt...

flatrock writes:

in response to MerlOT_GoVols:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Yeah, our WR coach only has about a million years of coaching some of the NFL's finest.

Keep popping off, Merlidiot, but you will have to really work hard to come up with a more idiotic statement.

flatrock writes:

Check down, Matt, check down!

eaglehim2 writes:

Matt, you had some rust to get rid of and the only way to do that is to play in games. Your team did not support you very well at times and they deserve lots of blame for the loss. You need to demand a Center who can get the ball to you without any failures. Some of those tosses from him were terrible and it cost you valuable time. Just keep working on your game and demand that your teammates improve their game too. We like your courage and your willingness to fight to do better.

volsfannsc writes:

in response to TheBlue:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Two days later and you're still copying and pasting your comment. I understand that your intelligence doesn't allow your brain to come up with much but geez, a new comment every 24 hours would be nice. You're not even a good troll.

tennvolsman19651965 writes:

Although I was optimistic at half time, the game turned out just like we all thought it would turn out. I know that it is tough to keep saying, "wait until next year", but with Bray, Hunter and Rogers back, plus an improved Lane, Young, O-line and Defense, we will start getting some of the signature wins we need.

SummittsCourt writes:

He did play terrible to use his words, but his receivers didn't help him out at all with those int's.

The first one - great play call, had he threw the ball a little further Rogers has a chance at a TD. However, the defender played him pretty well but Rogers has to come back and play defender instead of just continuing to run.

The Second one - all on Simms for throwing into coverage, but once again the receiver needed to turn into a defender and do something instead of watching the int.

Give credit where credit is due. LSU is one of the best teams in football and their defense is why they are that good. They may win the national title with only Alabama to stop them.

Speaking of Bama, if Simms doesn't play much better in this one it will be a long night again on national TV. Here we go Vols! Shock the world.

tennvolsman19651965 writes:

in response to volpreacher:

And a defense that played really well, especially in the first half, running the ball for over 100 yds against a defense that previously only allowed one team to run for over 100. This team is getting better. Had Bray and Hunter been playing all year, who knows what would have happened. I'm not convinced that we wouldn't be sitting 6-0 going into Alabama week had they been healthy all year.

Well Preacher, we dont have Bray and Hunter, so we need for you to pray for us this weekend! Cause I am hoping that BAMA doesnt leave us saying, " If we only had Rogers, Young and Poole, we might have been able to beat Vandy, Kentucky and Middle Tennessee State and might be sitting at 6-6.

tennvolsman19651965 writes:

As much as I really dont care for Simms ability to play the position, he really did have a lot of dropped passes. He probably should have been 12-20, but the INT's would have still overshadowed the 12 completions. But I have to give one thing to Simms this weekend, he didnt take his usual 8 sacks for -120 yards. He was asked to come into a pretty bad situation against LSU and BAMA. I hope he holds up so that we dont lose Worelys redshirt this year.

THEKIDWISCONSIN writes:

I'm just impressed that unlike his last start (and pull)he didn't throw his OL under the bus...

It's going to be a long month until Tyler is back.

PHAT_VOL writes:

Players reflect there coach. We were pounded coach Dooley said and Matt maned-up for his performance. I like this attitude a lot better than "I'll have to look at the film" or some other pat answer that we were getting a few years ago.

GO VOLS !!!

punkin writes:

What has happened to the gator trolls?

fshnhol writes:

in response to oldster:

I think you must have been watching the game with sunglasses on. I also saw other bright spots. Our offensive line actually opened some holes. Our running backs ran with some conviction. Our DB's did not give up a bomb. Our kicker actually kept both his kickoffs in the field of play and got them inside the 5. We had no punts blocked and no real bad punts and gave up no returns. In other words, our special teams and running games actually began to show some signs of life. Those things are every bit as encouraging as Mr. Young.

This is true....

Tau_of_Tennessee writes:

On the fly route does the WR not have some responsibility to knock down a short throw to the inside? Not assigning blame but #12 could have gotten a little help form #21.

thevoice writes:

in response to Bryanbleedsorange:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Same here. I just wonder why don't we have any JUCO's here? At least for a short few years until Dooley's recruits can age a little.

Pullingguard writes:

in response to born2ride:

Simms can't throw the ball.

We can't run it.

The defense can't stop anybody.

Kicking is an adventure.

Coaching is poor.

The only remaining games we are sure to win are against MTSU and Kentucky.

MTSU for sure and then you should put a ? beside the Ky game... Face the facts, this UT teams is not a good team and any Saturday can go really bad.

Volunatic writes:

in response to MerlOT_GoVols:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

So you're saying that half of the passes thrown by Simms were drops, and he really should have been 16 of 20?
What a load. If that were the case, the coaches would have been praising Matt Simms' effort after the game.
Did you watch the game?

Volunatic writes:

in response to murrayvol:

"we"??? Get serious.

Agreed, MurrayVol. It is amazing how many of the trolls pretend that they are actually Vol fans.

underthehill writes:

in response to CrippledCoon:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

True..how many players would stay around like he has and do his best to help..

Colliervol writes:

I appreciate Matt's honesty and his grit. But all it did was remind me why he was running second string and why Tyler is sorely missed. He is just not equipped to be an SEC starter. Although I mostly blame the coaches for the play call for the first interception (that cost us momentum), it was a perfect example of why you don't let him throw that pass. He doesn't have the arm strength to make it.

Mind you I don't think that it would have made any difference in the long run but, after we get set up on the 40 yard line and have been playing them toe to toe, the coaches should never have called that play. (And by the way, how do 10 guys not get close to the DB until Matt throws himself in front of him to try and tackle him?)

Pretty much summarizes the season. We go nose to nose for a half and then get worn down. And that is only solved with talent and depth. Not much anybody can do about it till we get more (and better) players.

bfowler1161#262198 writes:

in response to MerlOT_GoVols:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Wow, guess the big contracts make the coaches want to teach the guys to make mistakes. Or is this your way of letting to people know to remove doubt when questioning your IQ?

bfowler1161#262198 writes:

in response to Colliervol:

I appreciate Matt's honesty and his grit. But all it did was remind me why he was running second string and why Tyler is sorely missed. He is just not equipped to be an SEC starter. Although I mostly blame the coaches for the play call for the first interception (that cost us momentum), it was a perfect example of why you don't let him throw that pass. He doesn't have the arm strength to make it.

Mind you I don't think that it would have made any difference in the long run but, after we get set up on the 40 yard line and have been playing them toe to toe, the coaches should never have called that play. (And by the way, how do 10 guys not get close to the DB until Matt throws himself in front of him to try and tackle him?)

Pretty much summarizes the season. We go nose to nose for a half and then get worn down. And that is only solved with talent and depth. Not much anybody can do about it till we get more (and better) players.

There was a perfectly wide open receiver 15 yards down the field. The play call was not the problem it was the execution of it.

Colliervol writes:

And I'll go ahead and say this so I don't have to waste time after Bama gets done with us Saturday. It is difficult to get in a gun fight when the other side has AK-47's and tanks and all you've got is water pistols. Sorry to say it but this is where our talent level is and especially so since Bray, Hunter and Janzen Jackson are missing. Few teams can survive the loss of the best QB and the best WR in the conference and especially not us given the lack of depth that we have now.

The good news is that I haven't seen them quit like they did in Fulmer's last season. At least this coaching staff has them fighting in the face of some overwhelming odds.

underthehill writes:

in response to Colliervol:

I appreciate Matt's honesty and his grit. But all it did was remind me why he was running second string and why Tyler is sorely missed. He is just not equipped to be an SEC starter. Although I mostly blame the coaches for the play call for the first interception (that cost us momentum), it was a perfect example of why you don't let him throw that pass. He doesn't have the arm strength to make it.

Mind you I don't think that it would have made any difference in the long run but, after we get set up on the 40 yard line and have been playing them toe to toe, the coaches should never have called that play. (And by the way, how do 10 guys not get close to the DB until Matt throws himself in front of him to try and tackle him?)

Pretty much summarizes the season. We go nose to nose for a half and then get worn down. And that is only solved with talent and depth. Not much anybody can do about it till we get more (and better) players.

I think Dooley made it clear on his show that Rogers had the responsiblity to tackle the DB who made the interception..I agree the play calling this year is much worse than last year..the one that got me was against Fla..they had scored (7-0) and we responded with a good drive..3rd and 1 and we run the middle for a loss..then miss a field goal..game over..No reason to even think about running the middle..a play action pass should have had a better than 50 50 chance against a 0 percent chance running..

underthehill writes:

in response to Colliervol:

And I'll go ahead and say this so I don't have to waste time after Bama gets done with us Saturday. It is difficult to get in a gun fight when the other side has AK-47's and tanks and all you've got is water pistols. Sorry to say it but this is where our talent level is and especially so since Bray, Hunter and Janzen Jackson are missing. Few teams can survive the loss of the best QB and the best WR in the conference and especially not us given the lack of depth that we have now.

The good news is that I haven't seen them quit like they did in Fulmer's last season. At least this coaching staff has them fighting in the face of some overwhelming odds.

I agree it is a huge credit to the players and coaches that this team does not quit ..they are just getting beat by better teams..I do think Poole lacks intensity when he anticipates contact..but other than that..I don't see any lack of effort..

RatherBeDrivingaTitleist writes:

in response to punkin:

What has happened to the gator trolls?

I do not know the gator sites but I would imagine that some of their so-called fans are bashing Muschamp like our so-called fans are bashing Dooley. All programs go through the rebuilds at some point, but it sure is painful for the fans.

daporter22#1402249 writes:

Simms is tough but doesn't read the defense like he should as a Senior. He shouldn't throw the ball over 10 or 15 yards. Tight end in the middle should have been his bread and butter play. Plays outside of his capabilities. Real him in and throw the screen, short slants and "fake" the post and hit underneath. Running game will be improved. Wrong thinking produces wrong actions.

Stanman08 writes:

smart coaches make smart players. It starts with the coaches and these guys are clueless.

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