On Monday afternoon after practice, Tyler Bray was eager to get back to the weight room from which he had been plucked by team officials to endure a round of obligatory media interviews.
Days away from the opening game of perhaps the biggest season in his career, he seemed more bored than nervous.
Asked if he ever got pre-game jitters, he replied in true Bray form.
"No, never," he said.
Bray's humor is so dry that it's difficult to tell when he's being serious, when he's being sarcastic, and when even he's not sure.
But the part about him never getting nervous is easy to believe.
He weathered a tumultuous 2011 season, shouldered enormous expectations this summer and then suffered the public embarrassment of two run-ins with police. Through it all, he's appeared cool, unflappable and — depending on your perspective — either poised or aloof.
Bray is on the brink of a season in which he could solidify himself as one of the game's top quarterbacks and a bona fide pro prospect, putting any questions about his durability, his maturity or his leadership to rest.
The first test is Friday night at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta, where the Vols open the season against North Carolina State.
"We have a team, an offense, that's been together for three years now," Bray said. "We're going to be good...This team does not lack for confidence."
Neither does Bray.
He's won eight games in 12 starts over two years, averaging nearly 300 yards passing per game. He's done so playing behind a sometimes-suspect offensive line and in front of a backfield that has been among the nation's least productive.
A talented athlete who stands 6-foot-6, he has all the numbers to make NFL scouts drool.
"Expectations are through the roof with that young man," said Tennessee offensive coordinator Jim Chaney.
But he has yet to make it through an entire season, which he said is his top personal goal.
"I haven't done that since I've been here, so if I just make it through the season I think I'll be good," Bray said.
Not all injuries are preventable, of course, but Bray has tried to bulk up to handle a season of hits. His year was cut short last year when he suffered a broken thumb against Georgia on Oct. 8.
His hand didn't stand a chance when it collided with a helmet at full speed.
"I'll try not to hit the guy's helmet next time, I guess," Bray said with a smile. "Some of the things you can't really do anything about. But (I can) get in the weight room, get strong and take the hits."
Even when praising N.C. State's defense, Bray's confidence shines through.
"They've got some guys who are very good. They've also got some guys who can be exploited," he said. "It's just like every defense. There are strengths and weaknesses. They've got size and the speed. I wouldn't say they're LSU or Alabama, but they can compare to some of the teams in the SEC."
More than anything, N.C. State represents the end of a long August. For a veteran like Bray, the doldrums of practice can't give way to real football soon eough.
"It's been a long last two weeks," Bray said. "Just repetition, repetition."
Evan Woodbery covers Tennessee football. Follow him at Twitter.com/TennesseeBeat.