Metal plate inserted in Tyler Bray's thumb to aid recovery

Derek Dooley reviews the UT-LSU game

Players back Simms; Dooley says he can do better

Vols coming out flat in second half?

Consider it an appropriate step toward recovery, not a setback.

Tennessee quarterback Tyler Bray had a metal plate inserted in his hand Monday to help his broken thumb heal properly.

The procedure was anticipated and does not affect the six-week recovery period that was originally presented shortly after he suffered the injury earlier this month against Georgia, coach Derek Dooley said.

"They have to let the swelling go down and the plate is in only so the bone doesn't grow, so it doesn't heal crooked," Dooley said at his weekly news conference. "The plate's only to help the healing. The scar tissue heals but it can move. If it moves and then it heals, then you've got a crooked thumb. We certainly don't want that with our quarterback."

Former UT wide receiver Gerald Jones underwent a similar procedure last season.

With Bray out until mid-November, senior Matt Simms remains the Vols' starter and freshman Justin Worley is the No. 2 option heading into the game Saturday (TV: ESPN2, 7:15 p.m.) at No. 2 Alabama (7-0, 4-0 SEC). When asked if Worley would only enter in an emergency, injury-related situation, Dooley said it was too early to speculate.

"Matt's our quarterback," Dooley said. "He's played one game, so I just think it's a little premature right now."

Simms completed just six of his 20 attempts for 128 yards and two interceptions in his first start of the season. Afterward, he described his performance as "terrible."

Dooley didn't completely disagree with the assessment.

"I think it's fair to say that he didn't play the way he's capable of playing and made some mistakes that really hurt us in the game," Dooley said. "He knows that. We need better play out of the quarterback position for us to compete against good football teams. Really to compete against anybody.

"If you can't get good quarterback play you're not going to beat anybody."

Big Talk: From top to bottom, Dooley and the Vols (3-3, 0-3) nearly ran out of positive adjectives when describing No. 2 Alabama.

Defensive tackle Daniel Hood said Alabama's offensive line, which has spearheaded the way to 241.5 rushing yards per game, was a tougher matchup than No. 1 LSU's was Saturday.

"It looks like Alabama's offensive line is exponentially more physical than LSU's," Hood said. "Of course, they've got the great running back who's probably the best one in the SEC right now. It's going to be a tough game."

That great running back, junior Trent Richardson, is coming off the best game of his career, as he ran for 183 yards and four touchdowns against Ole Miss on Saturday.

When asked to compare Richardson to former Alabama running back Mark Ingram, who won the 2009 Heisman trophy, linebacker Austin Johnson said Richardson was better.

"They're different backs, but Trent Richardson kind of developed into his own pretty early," Johnson said. "He brings a little bit more than what Mark Ingram did. Mark Ingram is obviously an unbelievable back, first-round pick, but I think Trent Richardson is going to be that top back for them."

Dooley focused on the Crimson Tide's defense, which was promptly ranked among elite company.

"This is Nick (Saban's) fifth year, it's his best team," Dooley said. "Probably as physically a dominating a defense as I've seen in the modern era of football. I know that's a strong statement but I believe it. You catch yourself watching them and not studying them.

"Incredible talent at every position, great coaching and just a relentless, physical, dominating style of play."

Safety Dance: Though nothing official was presented in the latest depth chart, changes could be on the way in UT's secondary.

With freshman safety Brian Randolph playing his best game to date Saturday against LSU and with cornerbacks Marsalis Teague and Izauea Lanier struggling to generate turnovers or break up passes, safety Prentiss Waggner could see more playing time at his natural position of cornerback.

"We may not have a choice but to do that," Dooley said. "We need to play better at the corner position. So we're going to keep moving it around.

"We put Prentiss out there in the game and he does some things a lot better. But then there's other things. It's getting a lot of snaps. Brian's got to handle the load at safety."

UT is one of five teams in the country with only one interception. The Vols are tied for 115th in total takeaways with five and have not produced a turnover in the last two games.

Rivera Honored: Junior Mychal Rivera was one of 25 players in the country Monday slated on the mid-season watch list for the Mackey Award, which honors college football's top tight end.

Rivera is second on the Vols with 19 catches and third with 248 yards.

Players of the Week: In Dooley's weekly awards, running back Tauren Poole (19 carries, 70 yards, touchdown) and right guard Zach Fulton were named UT's co-offensive players of the week; defensive tackle Malik Jackson (eight tackles) and linebacker A.J. Johnson (11 tackles) garnered defensive recognition and cornerback Anthony Anderson was singled out for his performance on special teams.

Andrew Gribble may be reached at 865-342-6327. Follow him at http://twitter.com/Andrew_Gribble and http://blogs.knoxnews.com/gribble

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Comments » 19

underthehill writes:

Sounds like Dooley and the team agrees they have no chance to compete w/bama..I see no reason why Vol fans should disagree..

PlaidinOrangeandWhite writes:

I have always tried to be be positive on my posts on the website. I am positive that with Matt Simms the QB, we have no chance of winning against Alabama. I would rather put a running back at QB and run the wishbone than to agonize and watch Matt Simms try to play QB. Lord, please help us.

TNVOLS255181 writes:

in response to underthehill:

Sounds like Dooley and the team agrees they have no chance to compete w/bama..I see no reason why Vol fans should disagree..

DO YOU KNOW WHAT A TRUE FAN REALLY DO??

THEY CHEER FOR THEIR TEAM REGARDLESS OF HOW OVER-MATCH THEY ARE.

GO VOLS!!! I'LL BE HOPING FOR AN BIG UPSET!!!

gatorstomper writes:

in response to underthehill:

Sounds like Dooley and the team agrees they have no chance to compete w/bama..I see no reason why Vol fans should disagree..

talk to me at half time. Aways have faith so long as the stadium is named NEYLAND! At least untill half time.

underthehill writes:

in response to TNVOLS255181:

DO YOU KNOW WHAT A TRUE FAN REALLY DO??

THEY CHEER FOR THEIR TEAM REGARDLESS OF HOW OVER-MATCH THEY ARE.

GO VOLS!!! I'LL BE HOPING FOR AN BIG UPSET!!!

I must not know WHAT A TRUE FAN REALLY DO..when a coach and his players indicate they have no chance I'm gonna take them at their word..and this seems what this article says..this bama team is the best Saban has had...

underthehill writes:

in response to gatorstomper:

talk to me at half time. Aways have faith so long as the stadium is named NEYLAND! At least untill half time.

Talk about faith..It will be tough to find a "grain of mustardseed" Saturday..

TNVOLS255181 writes:

in response to underthehill:

I must not know WHAT A TRUE FAN REALLY DO..when a coach and his players indicate they have no chance I'm gonna take them at their word..and this seems what this article says..this bama team is the best Saban has had...

NO BODY GAVE VOLS A CHANCE LAST YEAR AT BATON ROUGE LAST YEAR!! KEEP FAITH IN OUR VOLS!!

IT'S NOT LIKE THEY WANT TO LOSE! we'll be back to the TOP i know we will .

Ttown1978 writes:

Back on top yeah maybe if we go other confrence as long as this staff is at ut but hear is whats going to happen they will get rid of some cordnators first to buy dooley some time and then in about 5 years they can dooley then lucky us we get to start all over again

SanDestinVol writes:

in response to gatorstomper:

talk to me at half time. Aways have faith so long as the stadium is named NEYLAND! At least untill half time.

I'd go along with that normally, but since this game is going to be played in a stadium not named Neyland we will have to see. I think it will be close at the half. Depends on the adjustments and if the defense isn't totally gassed coming out of halftime. Gotta make some plays on offense to keep the D somewhat fresh going into the 4th.

dk writes:

Every football team in America has up and down cycles. That's just the way that it is. Tennessee is in a down cycle right now and there are many reasons why. But as surely as the pendulum has swung to the down side, it will surely swing back to the up side. Be patient, get 2 more good recruiting classes on campus, get lucky and not lose the best players on the team and see what happens. All the naysayers.....get a life.

ChrisUTvol writes:

in response to TNVOLS255181:

DO YOU KNOW WHAT A TRUE FAN REALLY DO??

THEY CHEER FOR THEIR TEAM REGARDLESS OF HOW OVER-MATCH THEY ARE.

GO VOLS!!! I'LL BE HOPING FOR AN BIG UPSET!!!

He has a right to his thoughts same as you do LIGHTEN UP.And as a matter of fact he is more likely than not correct.He can still cheer his team but we probably WILL get destroyed in this game.He just happens to be more realistic than you genious!!!!

Gmoney58 writes:

we dont stand a chance!

rockytn2jc writes:

in response to Ttown1978:

Back on top yeah maybe if we go other confrence as long as this staff is at ut but hear is whats going to happen they will get rid of some cordnators first to buy dooley some time and then in about 5 years they can dooley then lucky us we get to start all over again

You have got to be kidding me dude. We've lost are starting quarterback, lost J.Jackson, and also one of the best wide recievers in the nation in J. Hunter(which means 2 ppl on D.Rogers). Our DE's are DT's because we are to short on depth. We have our top LB out(H. Lathers) 3 freshman starters: Aj.Johson, C. maggit, and B.Randolph(fresh out of H.School). D.young as our special team spark who is also a freshman(coming from an injury). 2 senior starters on defense, only 1 on offense T.Poole(not including M.Simms). Must i say more!?... As a true UT fan, we should be supporting these guys, including the coaching staff!!!

Displaced_Vol_Fan writes:

Some of you people kill me. I will never understand why the people on here talking about firing the coach all the time aren't hired to coach UT. Maybe you all should apply. If someone can say after 1 1/2 years that this staff can't win (with almost nothing but freshmen and sophmores) you're either a genius or an idiot. I don't know if they can win or not, only time will tell. But to say that they can't with what they've had to work with so far makes me lean toward idiot. Let's all remember, that Kiffin Cloud is still hanging over Knowville and until it is gone, we as fans will have to endure the price of a stupid mistake. Eventually that cloud will pass, and we will start winning 9, 10, 11 games again, and these same people saying fire the staff will still be saying fire them because we haven't won 3 national championships in 2 years. I have an idea, why don't all of us football geniuses acknowledge that maybe those hired to coach know more than we do about football, otherwise one of use would be contacted about coaching.

orangecountyvols writes:

in response to dk:

Every football team in America has up and down cycles. That's just the way that it is. Tennessee is in a down cycle right now and there are many reasons why. But as surely as the pendulum has swung to the down side, it will surely swing back to the up side. Be patient, get 2 more good recruiting classes on campus, get lucky and not lose the best players on the team and see what happens. All the naysayers.....get a life.

DK, and fellow Vols,

Sorting through the messages, finally there is one..........yours, that makes some sense.
The naysayers are pretty boring and very silly in fact.
We went through the 0-6 start in 1988, and did we stay there? Those who think we're even at that stage better think again. We're coming back......whiners.

FearTheVols1252 writes:

in response to dk:

Every football team in America has up and down cycles. That's just the way that it is. Tennessee is in a down cycle right now and there are many reasons why. But as surely as the pendulum has swung to the down side, it will surely swing back to the up side. Be patient, get 2 more good recruiting classes on campus, get lucky and not lose the best players on the team and see what happens. All the naysayers.....get a life.

Agree. Folks need to remember that while Bama may be the best team in the country, it was not always so. They went through a bad period as well. Happens to every team at some point.

Side note - where's the Witch Doctor?? Need him to work some voo doo magic on Bray's thumb.

GONAVY writes:

in response to dk:

Every football team in America has up and down cycles. That's just the way that it is. Tennessee is in a down cycle right now and there are many reasons why. But as surely as the pendulum has swung to the down side, it will surely swing back to the up side. Be patient, get 2 more good recruiting classes on campus, get lucky and not lose the best players on the team and see what happens. All the naysayers.....get a life.

well said

Fla_Vol writes:

in response to Ttown1978:

Back on top yeah maybe if we go other confrence as long as this staff is at ut but hear is whats going to happen they will get rid of some cordnators first to buy dooley some time and then in about 5 years they can dooley then lucky us we get to start all over again

Your spelling and sentence structure indicates you might have finished maybe the 7th grade.

daporter22#1402249 writes:

Just keep it simple with Simms. Are guys can block their guys, keep passes short and sweet to start and then stretch the field with TE and Rogers. Poole will fight for enough yards. Defensive Ends have to turn the play inside for good linebacker play. Richardson will run over our corners if he gets outside. At least we get to start at the 30 plus yardline w/the ball, going 85 yards is tough sleddin w/this schedule. Turn overs will come if you play physical. Good coaching move to put Wagner to DB,need animal at safety against BAma. Cut out monster plays...ie 95 yard interception return. We're better than that.

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