Tennessee QB Tyler Bray endures surprising benching: 'I just couldn't get anything done'

Tennessee quarterback Tyler Bray leaves the field after being sacked against Vanderbilt at Vanderbilt Stadium in Nashville on Saturday. Vanderbilt defeated Tennessee 41-18. (AMY SMOTHERMAN BURGESS/NEWS SENTINEL)

Photo by Amy Smotherman Burgess

Tennessee quarterback Tyler Bray leaves the field after being sacked against Vanderbilt at Vanderbilt Stadium in Nashville on Saturday. Vanderbilt defeated Tennessee 41-18. (AMY SMOTHERMAN BURGESS/NEWS SENTINEL)

AMY SMOTHERMAN BURGESS/NEWS SENTINEL
Tennessee quarterback Tyler Bray throws a pass that is tipped by Vanderbilt tackle Rob Lohr on Saturday.

Photo by Amy Smotherman Burgess

AMY SMOTHERMAN BURGESS/NEWS SENTINEL Tennessee quarterback Tyler Bray throws a pass that is tipped by Vanderbilt tackle Rob Lohr on Saturday.

NASHVILLE — Tyler Bray entered Saturday's game playing the best football of his career.

When he left Vanderbilt Stadium after a 41-18 loss to the Commodores, Bray's job was in jeopardy and his coaches' confidence was shaken.

Bray was benched by head coach Derek Dooley in the second quarter Saturday, a stunning move that put the leader of one of the nation's most productive offenses on the sidelines in favor of scarcely used sophomore Justin Worley.

Bray said coaches told him that he was too "amped up" and he should go to the sidelines temporarily to settle down and collect his thoughts.

But Bray's struggles continued when he returned in the third quarter.

Bray finished the day 11-of-29 passing for 103 yards. He threw two interceptions and one touchdown.

Worley took over midway through the second quarter and promptly threw an interception to Andre Hal. (In Worley's defense, the error may have been on receiver Cordarrelle Patterson. And to his credit, Worley made a touchdown-saving tackle of Hal).

Worley settled down on the next possession and completed 8 of 11 passes for 51 yards on the evening.

"I was a little surprised (to get the call), but you just have to go out and play football," Worley said.

Bray's bad day started with a tipped interception in the second quarter that broke a streak of 117 passes without a pick, the sixth-longest streak in Tennessee history.

Bray watched from the sidelines, occasionally offering encouragement to Worley or the defense. After the game, Bray took his demotion in stride and declined to criticize Dooley or offensive coordinator Jim Chaney.

"I wasn't playing too good. Everyone could see that," Bray said. "I talked to coach Chaney. He said, 'We're going to give you a break and let you cool off.' I just couldn't get anything done on offense."

Senior receiver Zach Rogers said players were surprised when Bray was benched.

"It was a little weird, but at the same time I'm not going to question the coaches at all," Rogers said. "They felt that Worley gave us a better shot. We just have to go with whoever's out there and play with the 11 that are on the field."

Rogers said Bray handled the situation with maturity.

"He was still supporting Worley and the rest of the team," Rogers said.

Dooley said Bray's benching had nothing to do with any issues unrelated to his performance. Some reported seeing Bray staring down the Vandy bench or an official after the Vols' first touchdown.

"I didn't see that," Dooley said. "If I had seen it, I would have addressed it."

Evan Woodbery covers Tennessee football. Follow him at www.Twitter.com/TennesseeBeat.

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Comments » 26

JonGrudensAgent writes:

Seriously. Dooley needs to just GTFO.

It's over and done.

fearthehound writes:

in response to JonGrudensAgent:

Seriously. Dooley needs to just GTFO.

It's over and done.

Now, are you saying this as Gruden's agent, because I think you may have a vested interest in this...

jack4444 writes:

Hire the right guy. Forget how long it takes to find him, forget who's staying and who's leaving, forget next year's recruiting class.

Hire the right guy.

TitanandVolfan4life writes:

Bray is still very immature and he folds like a cheap lawnchair when any pressure gets near him.

He still has lots to learn and he needs to stop being a spoiled brat and grow up.

He's killing his own draft stock and needs another year in college to really prove himself to the NFL or he's going to losr many Millions of $$$ on his 1st NFL contract and be seen as just a backup QB type guy.

I actually hope he leaves for the NFL and we can get the Worley/Peterman era started.

Bray has all the natural talent in the world but he's just a headcase and needs lots of help.

VFL...GBO!!!

vol98champ writes:

Does the name Ryan Leaf ring a bell? Bray might be drafted by somebody, but I sure hope it is a team I hate. Maybe he could use that great arm as a baseball pitcher.

SevenT writes:

Where are all the smart UT fans that claimed Tyler Bray was on the Heisman watch list and was one of the best NFL prospects in the country?

utfan2121 writes:

in response to TitanandVolfan4life:

Bray is still very immature and he folds like a cheap lawnchair when any pressure gets near him.

He still has lots to learn and he needs to stop being a spoiled brat and grow up.

He's killing his own draft stock and needs another year in college to really prove himself to the NFL or he's going to losr many Millions of $$$ on his 1st NFL contract and be seen as just a backup QB type guy.

I actually hope he leaves for the NFL and we can get the Worley/Peterman era started.

Bray has all the natural talent in the world but he's just a headcase and needs lots of help.

VFL...GBO!!!

Agree 100%, under pressure Bray isn't the same player. I'm not even sure that will ever change with him. He gets too amped up and Idk if he notices but the more amped he is the worse he plays.

CrankE writes:

"I don't question the coach's decision" ..."even though I'd like to", reads the thought cloud.

I notice a trend of players and coaches on this team saying this after the coach makes a decision.

hooverd283#563729 writes:

When has UT really been a great team with a west coast QB. Gunslingers usually don't pan out in the SEC. Championship teams have mobile QB's and simply put they are usually mature and a leader. Time to move on with someone else.

Orangepuddinskin writes:

Remember last year after Kentucky and we all thought we had hit rock bottom?

76Hoosiers writes:

It's too bad UT can't fire many of the players. I understand coaches must bear the responsibility for seasons like this, but many people forget about the duty the players have to make plays. Many mediocre coaches (I.e., Fulmer, Miles, Brown, etc.) often get bailed out by players who make great plays at critical moments. This staff rarely experienced this, especially on defense. Dooley should be fired, but many players should be relieved of their scholarships as well.

UT4prez writes:

in response to hooverd283#563729:

When has UT really been a great team with a west coast QB. Gunslingers usually don't pan out in the SEC. Championship teams have mobile QB's and simply put they are usually mature and a leader. Time to move on with someone else.

2001. Casey Clausen.

Pretty sure Bama did fine last year without a mobile QB. It does help at times but is not the only way to a championship. Had Peyton won it all rather than Tee everyone would say we need a drop back passer.

tennisvol writes:

Bray seems to do better against the weaker teams, but not against the better teams in the SEC.

Sir_Spanky writes:

NFL? Gimme a break. If I were Tyler I'd get below the radar, work my butt off, re-invent myself, and come back next year for my senior year hoping the scouts forgot about this year's version... If he decides otherwise, whatever. The new staff will be fine with Worley & Peterman.

SummittsCourt writes:

All you guys bashing Bray remember this, many of you were bashing Erik Ainge too and you were missing him during those awful Jonathon Crompton games. Bray needs to mature, sure, but he is a pretty good QB - one UT will need next year new coach or not.

jt45 writes:

in response to CantCompare:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Exactly, Numbers dont lie.Here are some numbers on Bray.
QB ratings per ESPN
Overall Rating: 37th out of 117
Total yardage:11th out of 444 (3319 yds)
Completions: 17th out of 444 (248)
Touchdowns:7th out of 444 (30)

Putting up these numbers with all the coaching issues UT has had is no small feat.

Vols20 writes:

in response to jack4444:

Hire the right guy. Forget how long it takes to find him, forget who's staying and who's leaving, forget next year's recruiting class.

Hire the right guy.

"The right guy" is relative. If the guy that is hired wins, then he is the "right" hire; if he doesn't, he is not. These comments always amaze me. Much like analysts saying "what a great play call" when the fake punt works, and "I don't know what Coach so-so was thinking with that call" when it doesnt. This may be too philosophical, but I think it is true. Decisions are decisions...some work out and are praised, others don't and they are criticized. Those in leadership have to make the best decision they can given the info they have and let it roll. As fans, we should support.

JohnnyVol writes:

in response to vol98champ:

Does the name Ryan Leaf ring a bell? Bray might be drafted by somebody, but I sure hope it is a team I hate. Maybe he could use that great arm as a baseball pitcher.

What...you think he could hold up as a pitcher...on the mound...all by himself...under pressure all the time? He has not really shown the resolve to hold up under pressure, but he has a magnificent arm.

BigOrangeSmoker writes:

If id been Hart id fired Dooley lastnight before the game was even over when he faked a punt 4th and 9 from our own 28 yard line...id made him and Bray walk back to Knoxville and carry Sal back to alabama

gohawks1 writes:

Wondering if the speed gun that detected the speed of his passes before the game went to his head. He thought he had to through the fast ball on every down.

wrightskyguy writes:

QBs and offenses have bad days occasionally and you have to be able to count on your defense to sometimes stop bad football teams. You let anybody rack up 41 points and you're usually going to lose, no mattter how good your offense plays. You can't lay all of this on Bray.

DavidB writes:

in response to gohawks1:

Wondering if the speed gun that detected the speed of his passes before the game went to his head. He thought he had to through the fast ball on every down.

I hadn't thought of that. Good point. They were pushing that radar pretty hard and this is the first game I have seen that so it could have something to do with it.

copia69296 writes:

in response to SummittsCourt:

All you guys bashing Bray remember this, many of you were bashing Erik Ainge too and you were missing him during those awful Jonathon Crompton games. Bray needs to mature, sure, but he is a pretty good QB - one UT will need next year new coach or not.

Ainge came out later and revealed he had a drug problem while he was at UT. Crompton was good, not great, and got caught between the change of Fulmer and 'big time coach' Kiffin. Change coaches now and we can expect 4 more years before UT has anything close to a winning QB.

UT has not had a winning QB since before the Shaffer/Ainge experiment that Fulmer started in 2004. Since then we have had QB's that add to their stats and not wins. Worley may or may not be a better QB but we will have to wait until he is a Sr to find out.

UT has a QB commit at Butler H.S. (NC) that is in the state semi-finals, and is undefeated. Does he come in and ride the bench until Worley and Peterman graduate?

johnlg00 writes:

in response to gohawks1:

Wondering if the speed gun that detected the speed of his passes before the game went to his head. He thought he had to through the fast ball on every down.

I thought the same thing. Every pass he threw was a rocket, but an unguided one. The excess velocity probably affected his accuracy and caused his passes to sail right over his receivers' heads. No one has ever questioned the strength of his arm, just his maturity, judgment, and accuracy. The NFL cares about how strong a QB prospect's arm is, but they care MORE about the very things that are Bray's weakest areas right now.

volsrfiguy writes:

are we taking bets on where Coach Dookey lands...surely no real team would hire him....

cobragolfer writes:

Bray is a punk!! Did you see him "wave off" his teammates as he was walking off the field after giving the ball up again? He was like ... oh well, F it. Dooley wasn't man enough to stand up to him over this kind of act and the staring down of the Vandy bench. Dooly had no control over this team. Discipline works... try it sometime.

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