Passing game success 'not rocket science'

Tennessee quarterback Tyler Bray (8) throws the ball during the first quarter to tailback Tauren Poole during the game against Cincinnati at Neyland Stadium Saturday, Sept. 10, 2011.  (ADAM BRIMER/NEWS SENTINEL)

Photo by Adam Brimer, copyright © 2011

Tennessee quarterback Tyler Bray (8) throws the ball during the first quarter to tailback Tauren Poole during the game against Cincinnati at Neyland Stadium Saturday, Sept. 10, 2011. (ADAM BRIMER/NEWS SENTINEL)

Tennessee-Cincinnati Game in Review

It was a feel-good Saturday for Tennessee's offense.

Tyler Bray threw for 405 yards and four touchdowns and completed 82.9 percent of his passes (34-of-41, no interceptions).

Justin Hunter and Da'Rick Rogers each had 10 catches — Hunter for 156 yards and one touchdown, and Rogers for 100 yards and two touchdowns.

And senior running back Tauren Poole rushed for 101 yards on 21 carries as the Vols beat Cincinnati 45-23 in front of 94,207 fans at Neyland Stadium.

It all started with Bray, who completed his first eight passes.

"It's not rocket science," Vols coach Derek Dooley said. "(Bray) can throw it and those two big guys can go down the field and catch it, so that's what we're going to do until they stop it, and when they stop it, we've got to find other things. He's played two really good games."

UT (2-0) needs another one of those next Saturday at Florida.

How does Bray prepare for The Swamp in Gainesville? Just enjoy the moment.

"When we're out there having fun, kind of backyard football, we're a great football team," Bray said.

That's what the Vols looked like offensively for most of Saturday — with a little help from Cincinnati, which returned all 11 starters from the 2010 defense that ranked last in the Big East Conference in passing efficiency defense and scoring defense.

The Bearcats allowed 277 total yards in last week's 72-10 victory against Football Championship Subdivision opponent Austin Peay.

Bray quickly found a lot of holes in the Bearcats' secondary that Austin Peay couldn't find.

Bray's first TD pass was a 33-yarder to Hunter, who beat a defender down the left sideline.

Rogers didn't have to beat anybody for his first touchdown catch, an 11-yarder. He was wide open in the end zone, and wasn't sure why.

"I really don't have a clue," Rogers said. "It was supposed to be Justin's touchdown, but I really kind of slipped open in the back door."

Late in the half, Bray threw a pass between safeties Wesley Richardson and Drew Frey but threw slightly behind Rogers, who reached back and caught the pass for a 15-yard touchdown and 28-14 lead.

Talk about threading the needle.

"I guess he threw it in there perfect," Rogers said. "That's all I can ask."

Zach Rogers made a sliding touchdown catch from Bray that covered 16 yards and gave the Vols a 42-17 lead late in the third quarter.

Bray's 405 passing yards mark was the first time a UT quarterback has surpassed the 400-yard mark since Peyton Manning threw for 523 yards against Kentucky in 1997.

His completion percentage also was a UT single-game record (for a QB with 30 or more completions). It broke Manning's record of 77.5 percent set against Georgia in 1997 when he was 31-of-40.

"As an offense, we were just in that zone tonight," Bray said. "If you could have been in the huddle, you could of seen in everyone's eyes, they were just locked in and ready to go."

It showed in a number of ways, including the rushing game.

"Tauren I thought really ran well, averaged 4.8 (yards) a carry, over 100 yards," Dooley said. "It's a solid game. Marlin (Lane) put the ball on the ground and Rajion (Neal) put the ball on the ground, so we still don't have what we need behind him."

UT's 34 first downs was one short of the program record set against Georgia in 1997.

The Vols scored touchdowns on five of six trips to the red zone. They settled for a field goal on their last drive when they didn't need a touchdown.

"We were really five out of five touchdowns (in the red zone)," Dooley said. "Our goal's 67 percent touchdowns, so we hit that. It's good."

Dave Link is a freelance contributor.

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Comments » 35

VolGrad writes:

Hopefully we'll achieve all our goals next weekend in the swamp as well.

Go Vols!
Beat the Gators!!!

Bleed_Orange_n_Ky writes:

Hot dang what a game ... to heck with the naysayers ... I haven't felt this good since 98 ... next week bar-b-que gaturd!!!
Go Big Orange!!!

OrangeinCarolina2 writes:

Yeah, it might have looked easy because we weren't playing against an SEC defense. But even when the coverage was excellent, Bray still put the ball on the money and the receivers had sure hands. Some mighty nice grabs. Can't wait to see 'em light up the swamp next Saturday. Hold on to the ball and we win by ten. GO VOLS!

BigVolFaninSC writes:

If Bray posts good numbers next week against SEC talent on the road, then the nay-sayers will HAVE to start mentioning him along with other good QBs in the country! I have to admit that I didn't think the passing game would be a strength; instead I thought that we would have to rely on the rushing with losing 3 good senior pass catchers (Jones, Stocker and Moore)! The extra work that these three sophomores put in over the summer has really paid off! I know that we've played lower tier talent, but some of those throws in these 2 games have been NFL caliber! Hey! Maybe we pass to set up the run!...I don't care as long as we're balanced! GBO!

richvol writes:

Don't forget Rivera...he caught several passes and really helped out on 3rd down.

Bray looks better than I thought he could. He was brilliant today.

GiveHim6TDTennessee writes:

Can you imagine the atmosphere in Neyland if we beat UF and Buffalo? My goodness, that would be a sight. My early prediction for next week is 34-23 Tennessee. Welcome back to the top 25!

dalvol writes:

While I thought this was a very good showing by the offense, I'm going to reserve judgment until I see how well they do against SEC talent. I still do have concerns about the running game.

AtLannaVol writes:

I don't care who they were playing, Bray threw the ball as well as any QB I've seen in recent memory. And Hunter has a Jerry-Rice-like ability to cut and separate himself from defenders after the catch. Lord, I haven't asked for much lately but....Please let this passing display continue at least one more week!

Go Vols! It's good to feel this good about your quarterback again!

AtLannaVol writes:

And one more thing...The SEC had better give recognition where it is due. Offensive player of the week--Mr. Tyler Bray!

TennesseeForever writes:

Keep throwing the ball! I think it has become obvious that the passing game is our strength. If we try to come out and force the running game just for the heck of it next week, I will be pissed. Throw it all over the field and let the ground game come when it may. I'd be happy with an 80/20 pass to run ratio in the 1st quarter. Let's make their D-line play chase for a while, then worry about the running game.

volfaninutah writes:

Great game today. Man what an arm Bray has got! He throws a really nice ball. I have seen a change in him this season.He seems calm on the field. He seems to have taken charge in the huddle.Hope it can continue next week. Even though we haven't played top quality teams so far,and we have been running up the score, I 'm glad to see Tyler has graduated from the throat slash. Just do your job young man and as Lombardi said..act like you been there.Take it to the gators next week.

AtLannaVol writes:

Next week is HUGE for this program. A win would be great. But if this passing game shows up and we still lose--hard to picture I know--at least we will earn some long lost respect on a national stage.

I hate Florida.
Go Vols!

Bleed_Orange_n_Ky writes:

in response to AtLannaVol:

And one more thing...The SEC had better give recognition where it is due. Offensive player of the week--Mr. Tyler Bray!

A-men brother Vol fan!!!

GOBIGO72 writes:

Dic Chic.... come out and Play-E-A

OldNumber7 writes:

That was one heck of a ball-control display. Keeping the ball from Cincy like UT did was critical - made the difference. Gotta do the same at the Swamp to have any chance - I think it all depends on whether our OL can keep Bray's jersey white.

vol98champ writes:

in response to AtLannaVol:

Next week is HUGE for this program. A win would be great. But if this passing game shows up and we still lose--hard to picture I know--at least we will earn some long lost respect on a national stage.

I hate Florida.
Go Vols!

It almost feels like the 90's, when both of us were as good as anyone else in the country. A win at Fla would be great, but they aren't anywhere close to what they were back then. Who knows how good we are, but when have we started the season any better than this?

Mr_Bandman writes:

Go vote for Tyler Bray for Capital One Cup Impact Performance of the Week at
http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/featur...

Shake_Bake writes:

in response to AtLannaVol:

I don't care who they were playing, Bray threw the ball as well as any QB I've seen in recent memory. And Hunter has a Jerry-Rice-like ability to cut and separate himself from defenders after the catch. Lord, I haven't asked for much lately but....Please let this passing display continue at least one more week!

Go Vols! It's good to feel this good about your quarterback again!

Great post! I feel the same way; and you are right about Hunter,...this kid is just a monster receiver! I sure hope the team executes this good next week.

CroKev writes:

The OL was like Jekyll and Hyde. They were unbelievably good on pass blocking (Bray never got hurried let alone touched!) and really mediocre to poor on run blocking. They eventually wored down Cinci's DL but I sure would love to see them explode off the line in running situations.

Dooley's plan of keeping a great offense off the field by keeping our offense on the field worked to perfection with onside kicks (sure wish we could have saved that surprising move for next week!) and sticking with what works (throwing the ball instead of returning to a running game that just wasn't working).

Finally, kudos to the defense for the two 4th and 1 stops for field position as well as the 1st and one goal line stop. Really impressive!

kcbigorngX writes:

in response to vol98champ:

It almost feels like the 90's, when both of us were as good as anyone else in the country. A win at Fla would be great, but they aren't anywhere close to what they were back then. Who knows how good we are, but when have we started the season any better than this?

Realizing the obvious lack of depth, plus starting a fresh bunch of kids on defense...it is interesting to compare the teams now and the ones you mention.

I wonder how Peyton would love throwing to this receiver corps knowing that they are just going to get better.

Tyler is breaking Peyton's records already.

The_Real_Orange writes:

Safe travels to any of you Vol fans that will be making the trip down to Gainesville next week. I'm glad to see this game coming up finally look like a marquee matchup again. Hopefully our Gators can put a little pressure on Bray. Even when UC was a lot better a couple years ago, their defense wasn't very good. Tebow set passing records against them in the Sugar Bowl and that was with an offense that got shut down by Bama a month earlier. Should be a good game and a great boost to whichever team is able to get the win. Go Gators!!!

vol98champ writes:

in response to kcbigorngX:

Realizing the obvious lack of depth, plus starting a fresh bunch of kids on defense...it is interesting to compare the teams now and the ones you mention.

I wonder how Peyton would love throwing to this receiver corps knowing that they are just going to get better.

Tyler is breaking Peyton's records already.

I believe Peyton would have loved to throw to these guys. In my opinion they are better than Nash and Kent. Also, I believe the O line protects better than Peyton's. Am I drinking the Kool Aid?

AshyVol writes:

in response to The_Real_Orange:

Safe travels to any of you Vol fans that will be making the trip down to Gainesville next week. I'm glad to see this game coming up finally look like a marquee matchup again. Hopefully our Gators can put a little pressure on Bray. Even when UC was a lot better a couple years ago, their defense wasn't very good. Tebow set passing records against them in the Sugar Bowl and that was with an offense that got shut down by Bama a month earlier. Should be a good game and a great boost to whichever team is able to get the win. Go Gators!!!

Classy post The_Real_Orange. I don't think this game will be marquee like it was in the 90's, but it will be better than the past few years. While I am encouraged by the Vols' play yesterday, I also understand UC's D is not very good. UF had it's way with UC in the Sugar Bowl a few years ago, and that's when UC was playing it's best football.

UT can beat UF, but only if it protects Bray and tackles much better than it has shown. Go Vols!

AshyVol writes:

in response to Mama_Calls_Me_Precious:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

You sir, are a joke. Of course Florida's D will be better than UC's. But if you think your D will get constant pressure on Bray you are sorely mistaken. UT's OL strength is pass protection, and UF will have to blitz a lot to get pressure. And Bray's pocket presence is second to none. Sure UF will get to him a few times, but you are a complete imbecile if you think UF will hit Bray every time he drops back.

You make some good points on UT's D, but I think it will step up, play it's best game yet and get some timely turnovers.

Deep down, you are very concerned about this game.

Vols 31
Gators 27

Volsrbest writes:

in response to Mama_Calls_Me_Precious:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

I knew somebody from Gator Land would chime in. Although I agree our season really begins on 9/17, I disagree with your rant about your powerful Gators and how our "patsies" don't stack up. Sorry dude, Mich St crushed your Fl Atlantic worse than you did. While our opponent, Montana is a highly touted FCS team that came back with a victory this week. I also believe "Cincy" would have beaten UAB as bad or worse than you did. The Gators have nothing to brag about on their resume'.

With that said, I'm sure Bray will get pressure and I'm sure our O-line and Defense will be more challenged, but don't think for one second that the Vols will roll into Gainesville with any fear on their faces. They will be ready to play! Muschamp and Fat Boy better have the Gators ready!

Go VOLS!

HtownVol writes:

It is time that the rest of the SEC and Country admits that UT may have the best (young) QB-WR trio in the country, matter of fact UT may very well have one of the best up and coming Offenses in the country.

For this season and the 2 after UT is loaded with players who are starting right now.We lose Poole and Rivera this season and Dallas Thomas next year and that is really all we lose.

Bray is getting better every game. He showed the improvement yesterday in making the right throw almost every time and even better he almost puts the ball exactly where it needs to be.

I actually did not expect DaRick Rogers to be this good so fast but he is the real deal! D Rogers looks like Terell Owens in orange, I am not saying he is that good but his build and ability do remind me of T.O.

Hunter is Randy Moss in Orange. It is too early to make that comparison but every UT fan can see it as easily possible. Hunter is a man among boys. The Defenses have not been great but Hunter is doing anything he wants and when he needs to make a play, he does.

We have to remember how young our team is and not expect great things this season. UT can compete with each team they play this season but we just are not likely to dominate teams like we have seen thus far.

Now, lets TACKLE better! And bring in those top D-Line recruits to get them excited to be the missing peice to put UT in the National picture!

Dooley is starting to prove some haters wrong.

GO VOLS

ProwlinAndGrowlinSmokeyDog writes:

Tyler Bray's stats tells the story of the game..You can't get much better than that..It will be interesting to see how well he and his receivers do against an SEC defense..He WILL get his yards next week because I have heard that UF's secondary is suspect...May not be able to get as many yards, but he WILL get his share...Bray and the Hunter/Rogers combo will turn out to be one of the best in UT history,IMO.

Smokey says the future is so bright he's gotta wear shades..

HtownVol writes:

in response to Mama_Calls_Me_Precious:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Those numbers are not even comparable.
You call Montana and Cincy "patsies", if so what would you call the teams UF beat up on?
I have no doubt that UT has played better comtetition than Florida has. UAB would not beat little Austin Peay by 60+.

The UT-UF game will be a very good game. I expect it to be a shootout.

When anyone runs their mouth about this upcoming game predicting a easy win it is easy to see that person is just talking out of his/her rear.

We all know that every UF fan is nervous about UT' Offense. Both teams will have to put up a lot of points on Saturday.

Bray will not have as much time on Saturday but the UF DBs will have all they can handle trying to cover a 6'3 and 6'4 WR with 4.4 speed.

It would be nice if a UF fan comes on here to discuss this game and be mature when previewing this game.

Too bad most Gator fans come on here and attempt to convince themselves and others that UF will dominate this game.

Talk all you want Gator fans but you know that this game is not close at all to a easy win for UF. If UF can not contain the pass game UT will put up 40 points, however that goes both ways. This game will be decided by which Defense is able to make a couple more stops than the Defense on the other sideline.

GO VOLS!

AtLannaVol writes:

TB time: Top passers in the nation: Tyler is 4th in yardage, 5th in QB rating and tied for 1st in TD passes. No other SEC QBs in sight.

What worries me: Florida will control the ball and the clock and keep TB off the field. Also, I expect the Gator DBs to be very physical with Da Hunter and Da Gatherer:) I hope the refs force them to keep it clean. not always the case in the swamp.

But I was also worried before this game.

Go Vols
I hate Florida

The_Swamp writes:

Watched the entire game and was impressed with your quarterback. So far I'm not sure what we have for a passing defense. It's either because the opponets coming into the Swap have not thrown that much, or we are making it look easy. In either case Bray is going to be a formidable test.

The_Swamp writes:

in response to FLVOL79:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

What team has Florida played that is 4-8 this year? I thought we had only played two games. Listen, you can't judge a team by what they have done in the past, if you could UT would still be hammering us instead of being behind in the overall series.

abnermc writes:

Our biggest concern should be : FOCUS so that we don't overlook the little gators while looking ahead to Buffalo!

The_Swamp writes:

in response to abnermc:

Our biggest concern should be : FOCUS so that we don't overlook the little gators while looking ahead to Buffalo!

This little Gator agrees.

This is your best chance in many years -- how you gonna handle it?

asleep#212036 writes:

in response to The_Real_Orange:

Safe travels to any of you Vol fans that will be making the trip down to Gainesville next week. I'm glad to see this game coming up finally look like a marquee matchup again. Hopefully our Gators can put a little pressure on Bray. Even when UC was a lot better a couple years ago, their defense wasn't very good. Tebow set passing records against them in the Sugar Bowl and that was with an offense that got shut down by Bama a month earlier. Should be a good game and a great boost to whichever team is able to get the win. Go Gators!!!

Coaching changes aside, it is certain that you guys have more talent on the field, especially on the defensive side of the ball. As well as Bray has played he will run into a defense an order of magnitude bigger, faster, and stronger than either Montana's or Cincinnati's. I'm not nearly as afraid of your offense vs. our D as I am of the opposite. Brantley and Weis don't yet appear to be on the same page and the spread offense players/recruits that Meyer left Muschamp and Weis may still need some time to gel in a pro-set scheme. But the D, especially with Muschamp's emphasis on it, should be even better than before and defensive recruits just play defense, schemes aside. I'm not as confidant as most on this site that Bray's performances thus far can simply be transported to the Swamp and executed 1-2-3. I think if you guys put him on the ground early, he will start rushing throws and the offense, without an established running game to date, will struggle. Now if he gets started like he has in his first two games, then the game might get interesting. Of course, Dooley and Chaney know this as well so there's the tipping point in my opinion. At least this year, people are talking about it as a potential game worth watching, something we haven't been able to say in quite some time.

johnlg00 writes:

in response to TennesseeForever:

Keep throwing the ball! I think it has become obvious that the passing game is our strength. If we try to come out and force the running game just for the heck of it next week, I will be pissed. Throw it all over the field and let the ground game come when it may. I'd be happy with an 80/20 pass to run ratio in the 1st quarter. Let's make their D-line play chase for a while, then worry about the running game.

Now that is an interesting point. The idea of using the pass to set up the run is not new, of course, but it is usually thought of in terms of causing the defense to drop more men in coverage or bringing them on blitzes where a team can run draws or counters against them. In what will no doubt be a normally hot and steamy Swamp Saturday, if the Vols can induce the Gator linemen to rush the passer play after play, they may get tired enough to make it easier for the O-line to push them around a bit more in run blocking. No doubt the Gators have a lot of good, big D-linemen to switch in and out, so it won't be EASY to wear them down, but the basic point is sound: don't just out-scheme them, tire them out. In that regard, I would also like to see a few more sweeps and reverses, even if they don't click right away. A team that can throw it like this Vol team can shouldn't fear being put in long yardage situations as a result of a couple of busted sweeps a few times if some counter action can thin out the Gators both scheme-wise and fatigue-wise.

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