John Adams: Tyler Bray has own version of a 'spread' offense

John Adams
Tennessee wide receiver Zach Rogers (83) celebrates his first quarter touchdown reception with teammate Justin Hunter (11) against North Carolina State in the  Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game, beginning the NCAA college football season, in Atlanta., on Friday, Aug. 31, 2012. (AP Photo/John Amis)

Tennessee wide receiver Zach Rogers (83) celebrates his first quarter touchdown reception with teammate Justin Hunter (11) against North Carolina State in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game, beginning the NCAA college football season, in Atlanta., on Friday, Aug. 31, 2012. (AP Photo/John Amis)

Derek Dooley on Vols' first game, the 35-21 win over NC State

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Tennessee quarterback Tyler Bray (8) throws a pass against N.C. State during the Chick-Fil-A Kick Off Game at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta on Friday, Aug. 31, 2012. By last season, the NCAA logo had been replaced with the SEC logo on the uniform, and a small 'Power T' was over the numerals. (AMY SMOTHERMAN BURGESS/NEWS SENTINEL STAFF)

Photo by Amy Smotherman Burgess

Tennessee quarterback Tyler Bray (8) throws a pass against N.C. State during the Chick-Fil-A Kick Off Game at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta on Friday, Aug. 31, 2012. By last season, the NCAA logo had been replaced with the SEC logo on the uniform, and a small "Power T" was over the numerals. (AMY SMOTHERMAN BURGESS/NEWS SENTINEL STAFF)

Tennessee quarterback Tyler Bray set a personal record last week. It wasn't for completions, yards or touchdown passes.

It was for receivers used.

Bray has never spread the wealth the way he did last Friday night in the Georgia Dome. His completions to 10 different receivers against North Carolina State brought back memories of You Know Who. Peyton Manning completed passes to 12 different receivers in UT's 1997 opener.

Such work is best appreciated by a fellow quarterback.

"I think it's a natural thing," backup quarterback Justin Worley said. "Tyler goes out there and plays phenomenally. To see him throw to 10 different receivers is awesome."

Bray's widespread usage of receivers is just one example of how balanced UT's offense was in a 35-21 victory.

The Vols passed for more than 300 yards and rushed for almost 200. Three different players had 50 yards or more rushing, which might not mean much at Alabama or LSU, but qualifies as headline news at UT.

Not once last season did UT have two players rush for 50 yards or more in the same game. Not even against Montana or Buffalo or Middle Tennessee State.

Tennessee hasn't had three players rush for 50 or more yards since the 2010 season opener. It hasn't had three do it against a BCS opponent since 2006.

That doesn't mean UT's running game has arrived. These Vols will be a pass-first, run-second team, and third-and-3 still might qualify as a passing down. But they at least have more options than last season when getting back to the line of scrimmage was an ongoing challenge.

Offensive coordinator Jim Chaney took advantage of that against the Wolfpack. He got everyone involved. He also gave opposing defensive coordinators plenty to think about.

Chaney and Bray form a nice partnership. They've been together long enough that, as Bray said in the preseason, he can anticipate what's coming from his play caller. Conversely, Bray gives Chaney so much to work with. No pass play is off-limits — long, short or intermediate. And, based on the season opener, no receiver goes unnoticed.

"Tyler did a really good job of using his reads," said fullback Ben Bartholomew, who caught two passes. "If the first or second read isn't open, he's going to check it down.

"He doesn't play favorites. He's going to throw to the open guy."

Senior Zach Rogers can vouch for that.

Rogers had only two catches against N.C. State, but one was a 72-yard touchdown on which he beat All-American cornerback David Amerson.

During one preseason interview session, Bray was asked about the luxury of throwing to receivers as talented as Justin Hunter, Coraderrelle Patterson and Da'Rick Rogers, who has since been dismissed from the team. While Bray complimented all three, he also made a point of including Zach Rogers as a quality receiver.

Rogers, who is one of UT's fastest players, could figure prominently in UT's plans. Defenses will be so consumed with the task of tracking Hunter and Patterson that Rogers could be open.

And if he's open, he's Bray's favorite receiver.

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.

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Comments » 20

VolinCalif writes:

John you are writing some really good things, I for one thank you. I don't think pointing out faults is neg. so I will rarely complain. But this season you have been very positive on the vols, you haven't pointed to many faults. I take this that you are high on their potential. I know you aren't going to jump to conclusions or go too far out on a limb but thanks for the inklings.

PUL4VOLS writes:

It's good to be open when your QB is OPEN to get you the ball no matter who you are. Well done John Adams.

mdvol writes:

First things first, the VOLS score every way possible against GSU. Defense and Punt Team add at least 21 points. Doubt we will get a kickoff to return unless we lose the flip.

VOLS win 65-zip.

Pandemonium Reigns - Sept 15th.
Seriously.....get ready.

thevoice writes:

Not that Young is struggling, but I've always wondered if Zach would be a good kick-off or punt returner. Dude's a lightening streak.

dvhill100 writes:

Nice article. Shows CDD is fInally getting the mess he inherited cleaned up.

cloudodust writes:

With good fortune and smart play, we'll see alot of Worley in the 2nd half. Not a knock on Worley but as the season moves along, the reps won't hurt. Here's to good fortune...

tovolny writes:

John,

Thanks. You and the rest of KNS have done a real good job this year. We need a "thumbs up" button.

tnsportsman writes:

GO VOLS, I'm fired up VolNation! Holding breath that Bray, CP, Hunter, Lane and Rogers stays healthy ALL YEAR! These 5 playmakers can make Our VOLS Offense very special this year!

GO VOLS, beat bad GSU! Tune up and be ready to beat the swamp lizards, ITS ON!

GO VOLS, ALWAYS!

KevDVol writes:

We still have 3 top quality wide receivers. People forget that Zach Rogers was the fastest sprinter in the state of TN in high school.

FYI: The last time we beat the gators was with a QB from California (who happened to win twice in the swamp).

TheRealDragonSlayer writes:

in response to tnsportsman:

GO VOLS, I'm fired up VolNation! Holding breath that Bray, CP, Hunter, Lane and Rogers stays healthy ALL YEAR! These 5 playmakers can make Our VOLS Offense very special this year!

GO VOLS, beat bad GSU! Tune up and be ready to beat the swamp lizards, ITS ON!

GO VOLS, ALWAYS!

Dont forget Rajion Neal. He may not have had his best game, but he has shown a lot of improvement, and watch out when he gets the ball on screens or out in the flat.

Our offense is stacked and our defense is flying to the ball. This will be a very exciting season, no matter what the record ends up being...I dont see any loss being a lopsided one...I expect we will be in every game down to late in the 4th quarter (if we are down), and more times than not, i expect us to be up.

Go Vols!
(and thank you, Derek Dooley)

johnlg00 writes:

Some food for thought for all those who think Bray just locks in on a receiver and doesn't check down well. While I was as annoyed as anybody else over some of TB's juvenile antics over the summer, he has clearly matured as a field leader. He looks sharper and more assured in every phase of the game than he did last year. The sky is the limit for Bray if he can just keep it going, and with the supporting cast he has this year, I think he will.

mocsandvolsfan writes:

I must congratulate Bray for his decisions first game. I can't recall a bad throw including the throw aways. If he continues hitting the open man then how can we lose!!? With well-timed runs too? We're looking good Mr. Adams and you're finally seeing this.
Great read. Of course to give you a break we did need to prove ourselves and still do. but I think even JA sees our potential.

licknpromise777#651578 writes:

It's great to see Zach emerge as a 3rd scoring threat..What I really liked about Bray was his quick release which is a sign of a great QB..It worries me a little that Chaney is so dependent on the in route/slant play on 3rd down..With our WR's it has a 75% success rate but FLA and GA's D Coordinators will key on that knowing it's coming..A good Mike LB will pick that ball off.

Voltransplant writes:

This is going to be a great year. I believe that we are going to beat the H.E. double hockey sticks out of a lot of teams (SEC included)! It sure is great to be a Tennessee Vol!

10seVol85_Part_Deux writes:

in response to mdvol:

First things first, the VOLS score every way possible against GSU. Defense and Punt Team add at least 21 points. Doubt we will get a kickoff to return unless we lose the flip.

VOLS win 65-zip.

Pandemonium Reigns - Sept 15th.
Seriously.....get ready.

I'm pretty sure we'll receive at least one kickoff. That's how it works, you know. One team receives the opening kickoff of the game, and the other team receives the opening kickoff of the second half. Unless we're going to spot them one.

Timbo_Slice writes:

in response to KevDVol:

We still have 3 top quality wide receivers. People forget that Zach Rogers was the fastest sprinter in the state of TN in high school.

FYI: The last time we beat the gators was with a QB from California (who happened to win twice in the swamp).

The Iceman was very underated in my opinion. He had a great road record including 2 in the swamp! But, the last time the Vols beat the Gators was in 2004, the year after Clausen graduated. We had 2 freshmen qb's that year, Ainge who came from Oregon and Schafer, who was from Florida.

johnlg00 writes:

in response to Timbo_Slice:

The Iceman was very underated in my opinion. He had a great road record including 2 in the swamp! But, the last time the Vols beat the Gators was in 2004, the year after Clausen graduated. We had 2 freshmen qb's that year, Ainge who came from Oregon and Schafer, who was from Florida.

I have long thought Casey Clausen got less love from the fans despite being a successful Vol QB than any other we have ever had. He may not have had the rocket arm, and some never warmed to his personality, but he was a WINNER and, apparently, a leader.

10seVol85_Part_Deux writes:

in response to johnlg00:

I have long thought Casey Clausen got less love from the fans despite being a successful Vol QB than any other we have ever had. He may not have had the rocket arm, and some never warmed to his personality, but he was a WINNER and, apparently, a leader.

After he graduated, he did a short stint as a grad assistant at MSU. My daughter and I met him at a Lady Vols game in Starkville. He was very nice, and humble (surprisingly).

What I always liked about him was how he performed under pressure. It was like he lived for it and the late-game heroics. I remember he never performed all that well in practice, but on the field, specially when we were down, he could be great.

I also remember one time hearing somebody call in to one of the radio shows complaining about him, and the host responded sarcastically, saying something like, "Yeah. If he keeps this up, he'll always be second to Manning in the record books."

Timbo_Slice writes:

in response to 10seVol85_Part_Deux:

After he graduated, he did a short stint as a grad assistant at MSU. My daughter and I met him at a Lady Vols game in Starkville. He was very nice, and humble (surprisingly).

What I always liked about him was how he performed under pressure. It was like he lived for it and the late-game heroics. I remember he never performed all that well in practice, but on the field, specially when we were down, he could be great.

I also remember one time hearing somebody call in to one of the radio shows complaining about him, and the host responded sarcastically, saying something like, "Yeah. If he keeps this up, he'll always be second to Manning in the record books."

I was there when he first got to play (against LA Monroe I believe) and his first collegiate pass went for a TD. And a few games later , I was there when he got his first start, a win against against Alabama. I remember he got his helmet knocked off on one play and he was still running around trying to make the first down. Dude was tough!

Tenn64 writes:

OK, JA has 1.)Started attending AA, 2.)Was abducted by aliens, 3.) Is terminally ill and making peace with the vol nation,4.) Or just being nice till the first sign of trouble and then he's back to his old self. I'm thinking #4

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