Tennessee junior safety Brent Brewer was a starter until tearing his ACL late last season. After sophomore Brian Randolph suffered the same injury last Saturday against Florida, Brewer has his old job back.
Brewer will start at safety alongside Byron Moore when the Vols (2-1) play Akron (1-2) Saturday (TV: CSS, 7:30 p.m.) at Neyland Stadium.
Tennessee coach Derek Dooley said he has confidence in Brewer, who was beaten out by Randolph in camp and has played only occasionally in the first three games.
"Brent has the capability of playing well," Dooley said Tuesday. "This is a good opportunity for Brent to get in there and show that he is a capable starter. I think he has all the tools to be that."
Tennessee quarterback Tyler Bray was so disgusted with his performance against Florida that he watched only the first half of film from the game.
"That wasn't our team (in the second half)," he said.
Some fans criticized his demeanor and body language late in the game, and Bray acknowledged that he allowed frustration to creep in.
"I mean, you go from throwing bombs and the running backs running great and the linemen blocking great to no one's doing anything great," he said. "Yeah, that can get frustrating sometimes."
Dooley said Bray had a "really great" practice Tuesday. The coach also strongly defended his quarterback for the second day in a row, saying Bray cares passionately about winning although he might appear aloof.
"It's a hard position and there's so much glory and so much criticism that comes with it," Dooley said. "That's just how it is. It's one step removed from what my position is. When you are the head coach you get all this praise when everything goes good and when things go bad you're just a disaster. That's just part of it."
Dooley also cited studies that have shown that NFL quarterbacks reach their peak in their sixth or seventh year. His point? It's a position that requires study and learning and some lumps before full potential is reached.
"Tyler's made some great strides, but he's still journeying and learning how to be a complete quarterback," Dooley said. "And he wants to be. And I think he can be. And I think he will be. And he's ready to get in that situation again and respond a little better than he did. I know he is."