Bray hurls Vols to 45-23 win

photo The Tennessee defense sacks Cincinnati quarterback Zach Collaros on a 4th and 1 play in the first half.

KNOXVILLE -- As coach Derek Dooley said, it's not rocket science.

In fact, Tennessee's passing game made it look like the complete opposite Saturday afternoon.

Sophomore quarterback Tyler Bray threw for 405 yards and accounted for five total touchdowns, and the Volunteers had two 100-yard receivers for the second consecutive game for the first time in school history in a surprisingly easy 45-23 win over Cincinnati in front of 94,207 at Neyland Stadium.

Sophomore receivers Da'Rick Rogers (10 catches for 100 yards and two touchdowns) and Justin Hunter (10 catches for 156 yards and a TD) became the first teammates with 10 catches in the same game in school history.

"Our passing game was on all cylinders," Dooley said. "We're going to build the team around the guys. This isn't socialism, it's the guys that can do it get to do it, and if you can't do it as good as him, you ain't going to do it. It's not rocket science.

"[Bray] can throw it, and those two big guys can go down the field, so that's what we're going to do until they stop it."

Aside from two fumbles and a missed field goal, the Vols looked unstoppable against a Cincinnati defense that returned almost everybody from the Big East Conference's worst unit last season. The Vols punted once, converted 10 of 13 third down into firsts and finished with 531 yards of offense to Cincinnati's 396.

"They came out with the same defense that Montana showed [last week]," said Bray, who completed 34 of 41 passes. "We had a week already on that defense, and we just went out and executed. When we're out there having fun kind of playing backyard football, we're a great football team."

The teams combined for four quick touchdowns in the first 8:32 of the game, but Bray connected with Rogers twice in the second quarter and scored on a quarterback sneak to extend UT's lead to 35-14 early in the third. UT's defense, which struggled at the start, stopped Cincinnati (1-1) on two short-yardage fourth-down situations.

"If you give up those two fourth-down stops, I think it would be a totally different ballgame," defensive end Jacques Smith said. "We wouldn't have won the game by however many points we did."

Tauren Poole chipped in 101 yards on 21 carries, and tight end Mychal Rivera added six catches for 54 yards. The Vols ran the ball better than they did against Montana, but most of the focus was on Bray, Hunter and Rogers, who all found plenty of space to operate throughout the game.

"As an offense, we were just in that zone," Bray said. "Nothing surprises me anymore from those two guys. They're great receivers."

Bray joined Peyton Manning as the second UT quarterback to throw for more than 400 yards in a game, and the 6-foot-6, California native has at least two passing scores in eight consecutive games, which breaks Manning's school record.

"He definitely has matured beyond belief," Rogers said. "He's throwing the ball better than I think he ever has, he's making his reads, he really knows the playbook and he's getting a lot better on reading defenses."

Bray is averaging 320 yards passing in his seven career starts, but he'll face the best defense he's seen next week at Florida.

"He looks very different than what he did last year at this time, and that's a tribute to him," Dooley said. "But this is two games, and it's a long season now and we've got to get ready next week because these suckers are good and they do a lot of stuff. Before we start patting ourselves on the back a little bit, let's just feel good about the win and see if we can keep up with these guys next week.

"I've never had three of them like this this young. I hope they keep doing what they're doing, but the test, it's going to get harder."