KNOXVILLE -- Tyler Bray hit a roadblock on his path of progress Tuesday afternoon.
Tennessee's sophomore quarterback, who according to coaches and teammates made tremendous strides in the summer in improving his game and leadership, struggled in the Volunteers' first scrimmage of preseason camp at Neyland Stadium.
"I wouldn't say he took a step today," coach Derek Dooley said. "Tempo was poor, lot of delay-of-game penalties, never really got in sync, but he makes some throws. That's what he did.
"But the consistency is nonexistent. It's enough to drive you crazy."
According to the stats provided by UT for the closed scrimmage, Bray completed 13 of 29 passes for 165 yards and touchdowns to receivers Da'Rick Rogers and Justin Hunter. The quiet California native was his usual relaxed self later.
"It's not the best scrimmage we've had, but it's also not the worst," he said. "We can always do better. We just need to line up right, throw a ball right -- there's a lot of things we didn't do today. At the end of the day we'll be fine."
The Vols' running game also was nonexistent, as tailbacks Tauren Poole, Rajion Neal and freshman Marlin Lane combined for just 59 yards on 14 carries. Rogers had six catches for 77 yards and his fade-route touchdown.
Backup quarterback Matt Simms, who was just 3-for-12 passing, threw a touchdown pass to Zach Rogers and an interception to freshman Justin Coleman.
"We'll watch the film, talk to Tyler and see," Dooley said. "He's never shown an ability to play consistently well. He didn't do it last season. Y'all act like he had these five games: He was all over the place last year, and so that's all I've been harping on.
"We've got to develop consistency, and not go out there and rat-trap. It's still early. Nobody's frustrated or down or disappointed. We've just got a lot of work to do, that's all it is."
Though the Vols' offense is primarily a group of sophomores, most of the unit played together down the stretch last year. Dooley was particularly disappointed with their poor chemistry and tempo.
"You're not going to be all oiled up in scrimmage one," he said, "but it doesn't mean you're going to sit there and say, 'Well, it's OK.' This was a lot better than the first scrimmage last year, but it doesn't make me happy.
"It's not something you can really say is that one thing. It just wasn't working; they weren't working together. It looked like 11 guys out there and everybody with their head on a swivel, and there wasn't a lot of command coming from the quarterback. Did we make some plays? Yeah. Did Poole make some good plays? Yeah. Did Tyler make some plays? Yeah. But we weren't revving up."
Despite the late-season spark Bray gave the Vols as a freshman last fall, he still has only five career starts against underwhelming opposition.
"He knows where we have to be as an offense," Poole said. "He knows that we need him to be on top of his game to be a good offense. We're definitely making strides, and him being a great leader like he is definitely has to come along. He's only a sophomore, still a young one, but we need him to step up."
Patrick Brown has been the University of Tennessee beat writer since January 2011. A native of Memphis, Brown graduated from UT in May of 2010 with a bachelor’s degree in Journalism/Electronic Media and worked at the Knoxville News Sentinel for two years on the sports editorial staff and as a freelance contributor. If it’s the NBA, the NFL or SEC football and basketball, he’s probably reading about it or watching it on TV. Contact him ...
related articles »
KNOXVILLE -- The Tennessee football team truly spared no situation in its second and final preseason scrimmage.
KNOXVILLE -- There's been less and less double duty for Curt Maggitt. When one need is more dire than another, ...
Tyler Bray remembers the last pass he threw in a real game very well.
The approach was different, and thus was the outcome. Tennessee quarterback Tyler Bray was crisper managing and running the Volunteers' ...