John Adams: Too late to get tough with Tyler Bray

John Adams
Tennessee head coach Derek Dooley talks to Tyler Bray (8) as he comes off the field during first half action against Akron Saturday, Sep. 22, 2012. (MICHAEL PATRICK/NEWS SENTINEL)

Photo by Michael Patrick, copyright © 2012

Tennessee head coach Derek Dooley talks to Tyler Bray (8) as he comes off the field during first half action against Akron Saturday, Sep. 22, 2012. (MICHAEL PATRICK/NEWS SENTINEL)

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Tennessee coach Derek Dooley voiced his displeasure with junior quarterback Tyler Bray at Monday's media conference. Just in the nick of time, huh?

Bray has been coddled and defended ever since Tennessee hitched itself to his NFL-caliber arm. It's late in the game to hold him to higher standards. Way late.

Bray's off-the-field incidents have either been laughed off or brushed aside with minimal punishment. His on-the-field performances under duress too often have been subpar.

But UT has stood up for him and stuck with him whether he was heaving beer bottles off a balcony or throwing into coverage. Why crack down on him now just because he failed to complete half his passes and threw two interceptions in a 44-13 loss to No. 1 Alabama?

You might have noticed that Alabama brings out the worst in opposing quarterbacks. You saw that last season when UT's Matt Simms, subbing for an injured Bray, struggled to make any headway against the Tide.

With 3:07 left and Alabama leading 37-6, Dooley had seen enough of Simms. So he summoned freshman Justin Worley onto the field to take his first college snap from Tennessee's 1-yard-line against the national champion to be.

Dooley called on Worley again Saturday with UT trailing 44-10 and 9:07 to play. And Dooley insisted he wouldn't hesitate doing so in the games to come.

"If (Bray) is loose with the ball, he is coming out, and we are going to play Worley," Dooley said. "He is being too loose with the football. We can't beat these teams turning the ball over."

Too bad, the Vols weren't thinking along those lines last November when Bray completed 15 of 38 passes and threw two interceptions in a 10-7 loss to Kentucky. Yet they didn't deem his ineptitude worthy of risking a substitute, be it Worley or Simms.

So now Dooley is threatening Bray with bench time? Please.

The Vols could have benched him last season against Kentucky. They also could have suspended him for this season's opener against N.C. State after a couple of off-the-field incidents — neither of which qualified him as a hardened criminal but did make you wonder if he understood the ramifications of being a major college quarterback.

In one case, he was charged with "reckless operation of a personal watercraft." In another, he admitted to throwing golf balls and beer bottles at parked cars in an apartment complex.

"Obviously, his accuracy isn't where it needs to be," Dooley said. "He missed the trash can."

Good line, bad message.

The ongoing message to Bray has been: "You're our guy — no matter what."

Maybe he would have benefited from more competition. Or perhaps, tougher coaching. In fact, I wonder how much further along Bray might be if former coach Lane Kiffin, who recruited him, had never left. Quarterbacks are Kiffin's specialty, and he did a wonderful job with UT's Jonathan Crompton in just one season.

What could Kiffin have done with Bray if he had coached him for three years? The question now seems as pointless as a threat to bench Bray.

Bray has heard too much to the contrary for three years to be motivated by that. The schedule is also in his favor.

After the Vols face 14-point favorite South Carolina on Saturday, there are no nationally ranked teams left on their schedule. Bray might have played poorly against Alabama and might have made wrong decisions in the clutch, but he has never been as inept this season as he was in the loss to Kentucky or the near loss to Vanderbilt in 2011. He remains UT's best quarterback option.

So forget about Alabama, remember that NFL-caliber arm, and tell him, "You're our guy."

It's too late for anything else.

John Adams is a senior columnist. He may be reached at 865-342-6284 or adamsj@knoxnews.com. Follow him at http://twitter.com/johnadamskns.

© 2012 govolsxtra.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Comments » 109

mountainbrook writes:

in response to notfunanymore:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

I wouldn't be so sure that Dooley has another year.

ULTIMATEVOLUNTEER writes:

This just in.....Tyler Bray is not the problem......the DEFENSE is.

VolinCalif writes:

in response to notfunanymore:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Yes I think you are correct. Bray has hurt his NFL image this year. We needed a running game to get the off. going. Well the Rb's stepped up so did the OL. We have great WR's but they have pooped a little the last few games. So where are we? We knew that the Def would suffer this year so we shouldn't complain too much with the exception of our secondary and pass coverage. I know the big running plays were killing us earlier but that was somewhat expected. Bray has just quit on the team it showed starting after Fl.

voldog70 writes:

in response to ULTIMATEVOLUNTEER:

This just in.....Tyler Bray is not the problem......the DEFENSE is.

Good article, Mr. Adams. I believe Bray is just about as much of a problem for this team as DaRick Rogers was!
If I was Worley, I would stay loose during the game, Clowney will be coming after Mr. Bray.

PHAT_VOL writes:

Bray needs to be on the bench NOW! How much of him are we as fans surpose to take? And how does Worley feel about the situation?

Talking about Bray maning up how about you Dooley maning up and benching Bray.

GO VOLS !!!

orange_eVOLution writes:

Ouch. Some nice Adams sarcasm. We can always un-redshirt Nathan Peterman. BOOM!

vorangel writes:

Well said, Mr. Adams. You are correct as usual. Tennessee football has become painfully irrelevant and everybody knows it.
Bray is a huge disappointment. Again. You just know every third-down throw will sail away incomplete.
Dooley has been in over his head from day one. It's hard to imagine how a coach can go 14-18 and still make jokes. But I'm afraid he'll be back. And Sunseri, too.

NorthwestVol writes:

in response to ULTIMATEVOLUNTEER:

This just in.....Tyler Bray is not the problem......the DEFENSE is.

Partner, I agree the defense is a problem, but so is Bray. He's still a childish front running spoiled brat.

Prostar writes:

With the exception of Peyton Manning, we've done better when our quarterbacks were workhorses and not show horses. Bray has all of the tools, he's just too aloof personality-wise to lead this team. His laid back attitude doesn't inspire others.

Ironcity writes:

in response to ULTIMATEVOLUNTEER:

This just in.....Tyler Bray is not the problem......the DEFENSE is.

Its incredible how much junk Bray takes for the failures around him. If his AA WRs could catch fly patterns we might be in some games. If our defense could hold a team under 500 yards of offense we might have a chance. The only thing in this article that was correct is Kiffin would have probably coached Bray up better. Bray has regressed but who's fault is that? Anybody on here who thinks Worley is the answers must be smokin from the same pipe Rogers was.

By the way he played the last two games last year with a broken thumb. A good coach would have recognized that and probably taken him out. Additionally if our WRs would have held onto the bombs he connected with we still would have won that sloshfest.

clvolfan writes:

in response to notfunanymore:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Like I said on another post,if Bray is back in 2013,you probably will lose Worley.I just be darned if I would hang around next year and watch the sub-par,under achieving Bray continue to be the qb,and sit around and at years end,only have one season left.My opinion is if Bray stays,Worley will transfer,and I would not blame him.

SummittsCourt writes:

JA, you are an idiot, an a pompous one at that.

Vol-TIL-I-FaLL writes:

in response to ULTIMATEVOLUNTEER:

This just in.....Tyler Bray is not the problem......the DEFENSE is.

not to start anything but the article clearly tells our problem..its bray its defense but more than anything its coaching ..or lack of,this is what u get when the coaching is more of a friend instead of stern teachers,but its only my opinion,but very clear to anyone who has been in or around football long enough to know what it takes..yes bray is a big part of the problem but he'd have never gotten this way under a stern coaching system

FWBVol writes:

It's real easy to make player decisions from the safety of your computer when, if you are wrong, your job won't hang in the balance.

Has Bray played sub par at times this year in big games? Yes, and the Alabama game was the worst he has played this year. That said, we have scored at least 30 points in every game other than Alabama, and that should be good enough to win 90 or 95 percent of the time.

There is no question Bray still has some maturity issues and some discipline issues when it comes to making decisions on the field. But Tyler Bray is hardly the only reason we are looking at a 3-4 record with five games left in the regular season.

10seVol85_Part_Deux writes:

in response to clvolfan:

Like I said on another post,if Bray is back in 2013,you probably will lose Worley.I just be darned if I would hang around next year and watch the sub-par,under achieving Bray continue to be the qb,and sit around and at years end,only have one season left.My opinion is if Bray stays,Worley will transfer,and I would not blame him.

If I were Worley, and Bray stays, I would ask for a redshirt year so I would still have two years of eligibility after Bray leaves. That would be better than transferring to an FCS program or sitting out a year at a different FBS program where I don't already have the faith of the coaches and some chemistry with my teammates.

But what do I know?

underthehill writes:

in response to SummittsCourt:

JA, you are an idiot, an a pompous one at that.

can you bring anything to the conversation other than name calling..didn't think so..

fearthehound writes:

'Quarterbacks are Kiffin's specialty, and he did a wonderful job with UT's Jonathan Crompton in just one season'.

I've read over and over how Chaney did such a great job developing quarterbacks at Purdue. Piling on is so easy. What goes around usually comes around.

10seVol85_Part_Deux writes:

in response to FWBVol:

It's real easy to make player decisions from the safety of your computer when, if you are wrong, your job won't hang in the balance.

Has Bray played sub par at times this year in big games? Yes, and the Alabama game was the worst he has played this year. That said, we have scored at least 30 points in every game other than Alabama, and that should be good enough to win 90 or 95 percent of the time.

There is no question Bray still has some maturity issues and some discipline issues when it comes to making decisions on the field. But Tyler Bray is hardly the only reason we are looking at a 3-4 record with five games left in the regular season.

Seriously. And how many perfectly-thrown passes have been dropped at critical times this season, specially by Hunter?

I don't think Bray and Hunter have much chemistry, and that's hurting us. Last season, Bray and Rogers really had some chemistry and they lit the world on fire. I'd like to see some signs of life from these guys.

What happened to the loco thing Moore and Jones started two years ago? When they, and Bray, were doing that, it showed how much fun they were having and how much chemistry they had. We need that now.

atnvol#283282 writes:

Fellas and gals....the whole dang program is a mess.... the head coach, some asst.coaches, many players, fans, top level university administration, near bankrupt athletic dept.,it is a very sad time to be a VFL....there are no answers to turn it around as fast as we want it to...the journey is still long to being near-top level in the SEC in football...it pains me greatly....saddens me even more. A indictment of where we are with our football program was today some of the media were reporting of the total indifference going on by the team on the sidelines during the team going into halftime...laughing, joking, just general lack of focus. I do not know for a fact that this was true...but I believe it must have been to even be reported. We have major, major, problems folks and there are no easy answers.

tennrich1 writes:

I'm sorry but this guys journalism is just hard to read....its like a merry go round...up and down and makes little sense...at least to the point he's trying to prove...maybe its just me!!!

tennrich1 writes:

in response to 10seVol85_Part_Deux:

If I were Worley, and Bray stays, I would ask for a redshirt year so I would still have two years of eligibility after Bray leaves. That would be better than transferring to an FCS program or sitting out a year at a different FBS program where I don't already have the faith of the coaches and some chemistry with my teammates.

But what do I know?

Actually you might want to look over your shoulder if you're Justin....the Peterman kid by all estimations will be the real deal...and coming behind him is the Ferguson kid....now heres hoping Justin can be the man for a couple of years...but dont count out the competition just yet!!!!

thevoice writes:

in response to SummittsCourt:

JA, you are an idiot, an a pompous one at that.

If you're capable, details please.

kazoo writes:

Good column--right on. Chaney has not improved Bray; has not made him tougher; has not made him a leader.

10seVol85_Part_Deux writes:

in response to tennrich1:

Actually you might want to look over your shoulder if you're Justin....the Peterman kid by all estimations will be the real deal...and coming behind him is the Ferguson kid....now heres hoping Justin can be the man for a couple of years...but dont count out the competition just yet!!!!

True, but I think once Bray leaves there will be true competition for the starting job, whereas I don't think that's been the case between Bray and Worley. I think Bray was the guy, and that was that.

Offsuit83 writes:

I am seriously sick of seeing morons comment "that's what you get when you hire a coach from the WAC." These coaches all started somewhere, and rarely is your first head coaching gig at a high profile place. For instance:

Urban Meyer: MAC, Bowling Green
Nick Saban: MAC, Toledo
Chip Kelly: GLIAC, Grand Valley State
Dennis Erickson: WAC, Idaho

Blast Dooley if you want to... he deserves some criticism. As the head coach the buck stops with him. However, continuing on and on with this "WAC coach" bullcrap just makes you look stupid.

Orangeblood13 writes:

in response to Ironcity:

Its incredible how much junk Bray takes for the failures around him. If his AA WRs could catch fly patterns we might be in some games. If our defense could hold a team under 500 yards of offense we might have a chance. The only thing in this article that was correct is Kiffin would have probably coached Bray up better. Bray has regressed but who's fault is that? Anybody on here who thinks Worley is the answers must be smokin from the same pipe Rogers was.

By the way he played the last two games last year with a broken thumb. A good coach would have recognized that and probably taken him out. Additionally if our WRs would have held onto the bombs he connected with we still would have won that sloshfest.

Aman

John_10065 writes:

I haven't read much about how players like Hunter keep dropping balls that were thrown on target and uncontested.

Bray might have a couple issues but when your receivers drop easy receptions, it doesn't take a lot of effort to look at the catch to pass ratio and point at the QB.

OldVols68 writes:

in response to SummittsCourt:

JA, you are an idiot, an a pompous one at that.

Based on what? For telling the truth????

123forVOLS writes:

To date there is nothing to prove Tyler Bray can take the Vols to the next level of winning in the SEC. It is a merry-go-round. It seems ridiculous to me when a coach stays so long with a qb not getting the job done. Does anyone remember the National Championship game in January? Do you recall the deer in headlights look on the LSU qb? But the Hat kept him in and they got clobbered. Many could not see why the second string qb was not given at least a series when Jefferson continued to mess up. Point: This should be the telltale on Bray. If he botches it up, put in Worley and leave Bray to pout, quit, and try his "NFL" arm somewhere else. Why this has not been tried already is beyond me. The Vols are not going to lose any worse with Worley playing. As for Adams, I was following along well until he brought up Kiffin again and then I realized this guy doesn't seem to realize Kiffin abandoned the Vols and no one cares how Adams thinks things might have been if the soft cakes coach had stayed. Maybe Bray is better, maybe we have NCAA sanctions now too.
Let's move on Vols fans and hang tough.

ColPhorbin writes:

I like John Adams, but once again we don't know what is being said behind the scenes nor to we know how the other QBs are performing. It's always amazing for me to read how John Adams thinks things SHOULD be handled when he truly doesn't know how these situations ARE handled

cloudodust writes:

The Tennessee offense that surrounds Bray is better than the one that surrounded him last year. That in it's self puts the QB under the microscope a bit more. Maybe we'll see a turnaround with USCe, maybe we'll see a character adjustment too. Talent isn't the problem with Bray...

Vol69 writes:

in response to ULTIMATEVOLUNTEER:

This just in.....Tyler Bray is not the problem......the DEFENSE is.

So we should have beaten Bama 13 to 0?

Sir_Spanky writes:

JA, you would be correct, except for one thing. Not sure Bray is the best option, all things considered. That said, it's unfortunate his coach believes in speaking loudly and carrying a small spanking spoon.

underthehill writes:

in response to tennrich1:

I'm sorry but this guys journalism is just hard to read....its like a merry go round...up and down and makes little sense...at least to the point he's trying to prove...maybe its just me!!!

Haven't talked to any UT fan I know who doesn't think the same as Adams on this one..

JayTee writes:

Good article on what is wrong with UT football.

If Dooley had sent Bray a few others packing after last years fiasco at Kentucky we would be seeing a lot better team effort this year.

Dooley doesn't have respect of his players it's obvious be their actions on and off the field.

6972 writes:

in response to ULTIMATEVOLUNTEER:

This just in.....Tyler Bray is not the problem......the DEFENSE is.

What defense? You mean there is actually a defense out there. I hadn't noticed.

mocsandvolsfan writes:

I don't know a lot about football really. But I do know that a QB has to have receivers he can trust to pull some down. Hunter, as good as he is hasn't been a trustworthy "go to". CP hasn't been that open and Bray needs him to move to the ball more I guess. We don't use Z. Rogers enough nor Rivera. Where were all these guys who can catch the ball? Well the answer is that Alabama has a great defense. Our receivers aren't used to being covered so tight an Bray is used to them being more open!. Plus he really likes being in one place and not having to move. That's my view of why he's gotta stay another year. Hunter needs to get over his fear of going after the ball. I don't think any pro team can use either one right off. Maybe after some training.

DEFENSE. Well we "don't got one". I don't understand the lack of a defense this late in the season. We seemed to be decent early and slowly progressed backwards. Maybe Sunseri felt too much pressure to change to 3-4 quickly? I don't know. But we "don't got" a defense as a result.

dirislr#209355 writes:

in response to SummittsCourt:

JA, you are an idiot, an a pompous one at that.

why do you read his articles?

movol77 writes:

Reading this article and the above comments almost requires one to believe that Tyler Bray is an unfairly treated victim whose recent play deserves much more respect.

6972 writes:

in response to atnvol#283282:

Fellas and gals....the whole dang program is a mess.... the head coach, some asst.coaches, many players, fans, top level university administration, near bankrupt athletic dept.,it is a very sad time to be a VFL....there are no answers to turn it around as fast as we want it to...the journey is still long to being near-top level in the SEC in football...it pains me greatly....saddens me even more. A indictment of where we are with our football program was today some of the media were reporting of the total indifference going on by the team on the sidelines during the team going into halftime...laughing, joking, just general lack of focus. I do not know for a fact that this was true...but I believe it must have been to even be reported. We have major, major, problems folks and there are no easy answers.

Well said atnvol. I am afraid at this stage we are a long, long, long way from a conference championship.

pupvol writes:

in response to ULTIMATEVOLUNTEER:

This just in.....Tyler Bray is not the problem......the DEFENSE is.

Thank you!!!!

doh writes:

in response to ULTIMATEVOLUNTEER:

This just in.....Tyler Bray is not the problem......the DEFENSE is.

Too many three and outs make the defense look even worse. They cant play the whole second half.

mocsandvolsfan writes:

in response to JayTee:

Good article on what is wrong with UT football.

If Dooley had sent Bray a few others packing after last years fiasco at Kentucky we would be seeing a lot better team effort this year.

Dooley doesn't have respect of his players it's obvious be their actions on and off the field.

wow. Your comment brings up so many current issues not just UT's but family dynamics to trusting authority(i.e.male) to status of modern sports to $$ to well... you get the picture.

It's never as simple as sending them "packing".
While I agree that maybe more authority was needed and some should have packed a little earlier??? I don't think Bray's issue's are as simple as demanding perfection. It's more team dynamics and how he leads the offense...or doesn't lead at times. I personally all year would have liked to see more of his back-up in the game. However that is a hard call for a coach because you need the offense to trust their QB. I feel sorry for Dooley. Chaney, and Sunseri as for as the job they have and the expectations of the fans. However they new what expectations were coming here. I don't think they new how tough the job would be though.
Dooley and co. will have a good ride staying or going. I think Dooley at least prefers to stay.?? maybe. My question still is will we be able to build off of this year into the future? Do the "Bamas" of the world have too big a lead? I don't think so. I for one never thought UT would re-buld in three years. I still don't. Rebuilding for UT means top ten.
Fans expect it and fans believe that money will do it. UT, as our former Chavis said needs $$ support. UT "fans" on these blogs at least haven't shown much support for our program in a critical transition period. Instant gratitfication is if I may, just stupid.

mocsandvolsfan writes:

in response to doh:

Too many three and outs make the defense look even worse. They cant play the whole second half.

You both have good points but don't forget that we played the best defense in the country. And no matter what some believe we aren't the #1 offense in the country.hehe

CrankE writes:

FIRE JOHN ADAMS!

Okay, now that this is out of the way, he also needs to get out of my brain. He captures about what I was thinking as the whole "Dooley gets tough on Bray" theme was coming out.

If Dooley had any answers to help his QB, would we not have seen them already?

Dooley links performance, but not behavior to benching. Which to me indicates that you can be Da'Rick lite so long as you produce. Which means that Dooley still does not have control and though Da'Rick is gone, the problem has not been solved.

If only we could bench Dooley for a while . . .

"We can't just stick our heads in our tails and go home." - Dooley.

buzz29 writes:

John, spot on!

zqvol writes:

in response to mountainbrook:

I wouldn't be so sure that Dooley has another year.

You're right, he probably has two more.

MikeInTN writes:

JMO, but Bray does not possess the leadership, poise, maturity, & mental toughness that an elite college QB needs to have. After three years at U.T. he is what he is!

gglardon50#417841 writes:

Tennessee will get blown out in S.C Sat then win by 7 over Troy. After that it's loses to Missouri and Vandy than maybe a very close win over Kentucky although that game is a toss up. Tennessee is where they should be ,lower level of the conference. Tennessee just isn't a football program on the rise and hasn't been for sometime . People need to get used to it.

tcg#1384489 writes:

When you are a really bad coach, you have to blame your problems (few wins) on someone. Why, make it Tyler Bray the quarterback. I am sure we will have Dooley and Bray back next year. Dooley, we could do without. Tyler is a different story. He could be a really good quarterback with a quality coach and not one who looks at everyone but himself to blame his losses on.

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