Tennessee's Mychal Rivera on executing
If Dave Hart really wants to get Tennessee football well, he needs to bite the bullet and fund a new position on the staff.
In addition to the fleet of coaches, trainers, managers and tutors at the beck and call of the athletes, the staff also is fitted with a Vol For Life director, a nutritionist, a chaplain, a sports psychologist, an NFL coordinator and a director of rehabilitation,
What Hart, the athletic director, might want to add to the arsenal is a director of body language.
It's not just Tyler Bray's performance in the second half of the Florida game two weeks ago that caused squirming among the message-board poets and media pundits. His demeanor and body language were also called into question.
When the Gators turned it up a notch late, the Vols had no answer. Bray, a junior, didn't respond well to adversity.
As to how that rubbed off on his team that night and, more importantly, going forward into games like the one Saturday at Georgia, is where it gets murky.
"He acknowledges it,'' coach Derek Dooley said Monday. "Tyler wants to be a good quarterback and he's on a journey of being one.
"I think his level of want-to, of wanting to win and wanting to a be a good quarterback is a lot greater than what might be the perception of many.''
The perception of his teammates, ultimately, is the one that matters most.
Right tackle Ju'Wuan James has been protecting Bray since the two were early arrivals in January 2010.
"I know Tyler's ups and downs,'' James said Tuesday, "but Tyler's been very consistent, with his personality, with everything.
"He's an even-keeled guy during the game. He keeps us going, too, if something bad happens.''
Tailback Marlin Lane confirmed that the Bray we see on Saturday night is the Bray they see on Wednesday morning.
"Everybody says (things about) his body language,'' said Lane, "that he looks down or depressed. But that's just him every day.
"We're around him every day so we know his personality. He's a laid-back person.''
Bray admits the final 20 minutes against Florida was neither his, nor the team's, finest hour.
"I won't say we got scared,'' he said Tuesday, "but we just disappeared. We weren't ourselves.
"The whole team kind of met up and talked about how we let down and kind of crawled in a shell.''
When Akron presented surprising adversity last Saturday, the Vols didn't crawl in a shell. They won the second half and dominated the fourth quarter.
"Tyler made some bad throws early,'' Dooley said, "some bad decisions. And he was frustrated, wanting to get something happening. But he had a nice calm about him and worked his way through the game.
"That was a good step for him.''
A good step against Akron is one thing. Georgia, and what comes after, is another.
Bray's stats reflect the difference.
For his career as a starter, in non-conference games he has 30 TD passes and only four interceptions. In SEC play, he has thrown 15 TD passes and 12 picks.
Starting Saturday, the potential adversity factor escalates.
Tennessee fans will be analyzing Bray's every move. Not just the right arm zipping passes, but the rest of his body language too.
strangemike44 and http://blogs.knoxnews.com/strange