Dooley, players preview Tennessee vs. Akron
Tyler Bray said earlier this week that he was so disgusted with the second half of last Saturday's loss to Florida that he couldn't bring himself to watch it.
That's not entirely true.
Tennessee offensive coordinator Jim Chaney said he watched the 37-20 loss — all four quarters of it — with his starting quarterback by his side.
"He's not telling the whole truth," Chaney said with a smile. "We watched the game together."
As every aspect of Tennessee's collapse to Florida has been scrutinized this week, Bray's performance and demeanor have attracted special attention. As the Vols struggled, Bray's confidence and swagger was gone, replaced with a sort of mopey aloofness that rubbed some fans and television viewers the wrong way.
"I think Tyler got frustrated toward the end of the ballgame, as we all did," Chaney said Wednesday. "We talked about it, we addressed it, we watched it on film and then we went out (to practice) and tried to address it."
By all accounts, this week's practices have been upbeat and positive. Tennessee (2-1) plays Akron (1-2) on Saturday (TV: CSS, 7:30 p.m.) at Neyland Stadium. But the real test for Bray and the Vols likely is to come a week later at No. 5 Georgia.
Tennessee coach Derek Dooley has aggressively defended Bray during interviews this week, emphasizing that the quarterback cares passionately about the game, even when his body language may not show it.
"I would agree with that 1,000 percent," Chaney said. "This kid cares a tremendous amount about Tennessee football and on his own performance."
During games, Chaney communicates with Bray via telephone from the press box. The quarterback typically displays maturity and intelligence in the talks, Chaney said.
"You try to calm him down and get him focused on the process of playing quarterback, trying to keep his mind on what we're trying to get done," Chaney said.
Chaney graded his own performance harshly on Saturday, saying he should have been more committed to the running game, even after the Vols fell behind by
"I got a little pass-happy," Chaney said. "That harmed us as much as anything."
Bray wasn't helped by a dropped pass over the middle by Justin Hunter, or a near-miss to Cordarrelle Patterson deep.
Bray's frustration was evident, and perhaps understandable. But while Chaney said he doesn't want Bray to have a permanent poker face, he needs to understand that he's being watched constantly.
"I want him to be real," Chaney said. "But sometimes when it's real, you've got to be careful. It was real in the game, and he was a little frustrated and he showed it. Sometimes you've got to keep it close to your vest when things aren't going that good, because a lot of people are watching.
Evan Woodbery covers Tennessee football. Follow him at www.Twitter.com/TennesseeBeat.