Quarterback Tyler Bray is nearly perfect in Tennessee's win

Tennessee quarterback Tyler Bray throws a pass to wide receiver Justin Hunter good for a touchdown in the second quarter against Georgia State at Neyland Stadium Saturday, Sept. 8, 2012.  (ADAM BRIMER/NEWS SENTINEL)

Photo by Adam Brimer, Knoxville News Sentinel

Tennessee quarterback Tyler Bray throws a pass to wide receiver Justin Hunter good for a touchdown in the second quarter against Georgia State at Neyland Stadium Saturday, Sept. 8, 2012. (ADAM BRIMER/NEWS SENTINEL)

Recap: Tennessee 51, Georgia State 13

Did Tyler Bray break a sweat on Saturday? Did he ever show fear or even mild concern? Was it really as easy as it appeared for the Tennessee quarterback to methodically pick apart Georgia State's secondary?

"I'm not going to say that," said receiver Justin Hunter with a laugh. "We just dialed it up the way we did in practice."

Bray passed for four touchdowns and more than 310 yards in his near-perfect performance in the Vols' 51-13 victory against Georgia State at Neyland Stadium.

The Panthers (0-2) are a lightly regarded Championship Subdivision team, so Bray's dominance was hardly unexpected. But the ease and confidence with which he has played in each of Tennessee's first two games has erased any doubts about the potency of the Vols' passing game.

"I don't think (Saturday) was any different from the last game," said coach Derek Dooley. "He has it. He's earned it. He's playing well. But each week is going to be another test."

The biggest test of the season comes next Saturday when Tennessee (2-0) plays host to Florida (2-0) in what likely is to be a nationally watched SEC East showdown. After a week of focus on Georgia State, talk in the locker room turned immediately to the Gators.

Hunter, Bray's top target, won't get the same generous cushion he was afforded by Georgia State, but the Bray-to-Hunter connection will be something other teams have to worry about.

"They were giving him free access, so it's not going to be like that next week when they put their hands on him," Dooley said.

Bray missed only two passes. On one play he said he looked long to Cordarrelle Patterson rather than try a shorter option in his progression.

"I should have just dumped it down and got the first down," Bray said.

Bray's confidence in his progressions — that is, the order in which he checks multiple receivers on different routes — is one reason he said he has progressed from a freshman "gunslinger" to a more mature quarterback.

"I was playing on instinct, but now I understand the game, know my reads and how to get people the ball," he said.

One reason for Dooley's caution is that he's seen this Bray before.

Through two games, Bray is 45-for-61 passing with 643 yards and six touchdowns. Through two games last year, he was 51-for-65 with 698 yards and seven touchdowns.

What happened last year that turned the Vols' season sour? Much of it started in Gainesville, Fla., when Hunter suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament in the first quarter and was forced to miss the rest of the season.

"I just don't want to have that feeling again this year," Bray said. "Hopefully we can get them this year."

Hunter enters this year's Florida game with three touchdowns Saturday, the first time a UT receiver has done that since Chris Hannon in 2003.

"I think everyone's healthy today," Hunter said. "Y'all saw the scoreboard. It was pretty good. We've got a productive team."

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

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Comments » 11

SmokeyFTW writes:

Bray was a beast today. He made almost every throw look effortless. Keep that confidence going into the Florida game and will be fine.

orangeintampa writes:

He looked way better than Par way left ardy.GO VOLS

utfan2121 writes:

Just believe in yourselves guys, you have everything it takes to beat Florida. We're behind you all the way. Go Vols!!

BluezVol writes:

Run the ball for 120+, no fumbles, no special team errors and Bray and company will play action pass/pass the Gators into complete submission and probably win by 20+.

SummittsCourt writes:

huh, where are all the vandy fans?

TheRealDragonSlayer writes:

There is just no reason for us to not take care of Florida this year. Last year, Hunter went down, but this year, we have enough deoth to handle anything. We have the momentum, we have the talent, we have home field, we have the Gators coming in not really playing well...just everything going our way.

I expect to put a hurting on the Gators. Not just a win. A hurting.

10ACTom writes:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)


Just hope he sticks around for his senior season. If he keeps putting up these kind of numbers, doesn't matter who Tennessee is playing, the NFL is going to come calling. I have thoroughly enjoyed watching him.


in response to orangeintampa:

He looked way better than Par way left ardy.GO VOLS

What happened to this kid? Wasn't he the top rated kicker in the country coming out of high school?

Madkels writes:

To beat UF, we must run the ball and be much better in the kicking game. I pray in doesn't come down to a last second field goal attempt. Remember the Bama game two years ago?

mountainbrook writes:

in response to SummittsCourt:

huh, where are all the vandy fans?

They are out looking for new assistant coaches with better looking wives.

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