Tennessee Stat Book
Tyler Bray's started 2012 started with eye-popping numbers and a hope that this could be a season filled with defining moments that might propel him into the nation's elite quarterbacks.
In four frustrating SEC losses, there have been defining moments, but not the kind Tennessee anticipated.
Bray couldn't shake a "jumpy" start in Tennessee's 44-13 loss to Alabama Saturday night at Neyland Stadium. He finished 13 for 27 for 184 yards and had two interceptions and no touchdowns.
After a long wait, a media relations representative announced that Bray would not be meeting with reporters as he had after every game this year.
"Our quarterback didn't play well," said Tennessee coach Derek Dooley. "I'm not sure why."
In the Vols' four losses, Bray has thrown eight interceptions and completed only 72-of-140 passes (51 percent). In the three wins, his completion percentage is 77 percent (59-of-77)with eight touchdowns and only one interception.
With its defense struggling, Tennessee needs its potent offense to make up the difference. To do that, the Vols need an on-target Bray.
Asked why Bray had struggled on Saturday, Dooley used the phrase "I don't know" three times.
"He didn't look good early. I thought he played his way out of it and hit a couple of good balls," Dooley said. "He was throwing balls early. He got some balls batted — he never gets balls batted ... He's got to play well for us to score points. That's just what it is."
Bray's struggles affected Tennessee's strategy just before halftime, when the Vols elected to run out the clock near midfield with two timeouts rather than take multiple chances down the field.
"I understand why people were upset with me," Dooley said. "We were down 13, which is fine. That's not the end of the world. I didn't want to give the ball back and risk it being 16 or even more. If we were moving the ball well, I would have been more aggressive."
Dooley said he expected the Vols to score more than 13 points.
"I'm disappointed we didn't play better on offense," he said. "That doesn't mean we played well on defense — don't get me wrong. I just thought we would play better for four quarters. I thought we'd execute our pass game a little better."
Attempts to get Justin Hunter and Cordarrelle Patterson more involved in the passing game fell short.
"We took five shots to Justin in the first half and went 0-for-5 on it," Dooley said. "We took a couple to CP and got nothing. That's the way it is."
Tight end Mychal Rivera, who caught one pass for 43 yards, said the Vols are a better team than they showed.
"It's disappointing because the offense can be way more explosive than we were today," he said. "I feel like if we would have executed on offense we could have hung in there."
But Tennessee didn't execute, and with Bray absent, his teammates were left to try to explain the struggles.
"There was a lot going on tonight," said Hunter. "We had a lot of MA's (missed assignments). The defense was just really good. And things weren't clicking."
Evan Woodbery covers Tennessee football. Follow him at www.Twitter.com/TennesseeBeat.