It's only led to one win in three games, but quarterback Tyler Bray might be playing the best football of his Tennessee career.
At least in offensive coordinator Jim Chaney's eyes, it is Bray's best ball.
The junior is completing nearly 65 percent of his passes and has thrown for 1,302 yards and 13 touchdowns with just one interception in the Volunteers' past three games.
"I think he's playing as good as he has since he's [been here]," Chaney said after Tennessee's practice on Wednesday morning. "I'd say that's accurate. He's playing good football for us."
After playing his worst gave of the season (13-of-27 passing for 184 yards and two interceptions) against Alabama, Tennessee coach Derek Dooley said Bray might get benched if he continued to the turn the ball over like he did nine times in the Vols' first four Southeastern Conference games.
Since then, though, Chaney said he's seen a Bray that's maintaining a different focus in practice and preparing "correctly" during the week.
"I think Tyler watches a lot of video," Chaney said. "He spends a lot of time studying his opponent, and he's gotten more professional in regard to that. I think that's a good thing.
"It's hard to go out there and be ready to play if you haven't watched a lot of video."
Against Troy, Bray broke Peyton Manning's single-game yardage record with 530 yards, which was the second-most by an SEC quarterback in history. He has four of Tennessee's seven all-time 400-yard passing games (Manning has the other three), including three this season. Bray is sixth nationally in passing yards per game and tied for fifth with 29 touchdowns.
Yet Bray, who again showed the side of him that enjoys interacting with kids after Wednesday's practice when he held and played with team nutritionist/dietician Allison Maurer's young son, is just 12-10 as a starter with a 4-9 SEC record.
"I think he's always liked to watch [video], but now I think he's a little more conscious of what he's watching," Chaney said. "Kids, when they're young, they'll turn on the tape to watch, but they're really not sure what they're looking at it. I think Tyler has a pretty good understanding today what he needs to study.
"He seems his performance mentally been playing better probably the last month. I can't recall the game he didn't play very well. I think since that point on, he's been pretty solid."
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 ...
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