Fresh Vol QB is star of show
Posted: Monday, November 8, 2010 12:41 pm
MEMPHIS (AP) — Tyler Bray looked more like a seasoned veteran than a freshman starting his first game at quarterback for Tennessee.
Bray threw for 325 yards and five touchdowns Saturday night to lead the Volunteers to a 50-14 victory over Memphis.
“I was just out there trying to have as much fun as possible,” Bray said.
The victory snapped a four-game losing streak for Tennessee (3-6), which was never threatened after the first quarter.
Bray, who took over last week from junior Matt Simms, picked apart the young Memphis secondary from the start.
The Tennessee receiving corps said they like the freshman’s demeanor and coolness during the game.
“He really didn’t say too much today,” said Gerald Jones, who caught a nine-yard scoring pass from Bray. “He just kind of joked around. He just jokes around and has fun. And I like that.”
The Vols would end the night with 510 yards of offense, including 379 through the air.
Tauren Poole rushed for 101 yards, and scored twice — once on a 21-yard run and another on a nine-yard pass from Bray.
The 50 points matched Tennessee’s largest scoring output of the season.
“We outmatched them, and that’s what we should do,” Tennessee coach Derek Dooley said. “That was good. So, that was a good win. It’s been awhile since we got a win, so it was a nicer scene in the locker room.”
Memphis (1-8) lost its sixth straight. It marked the fifth straight game where the Tigers, ranked 118th out of 120 teams in scoring defense, have surrendered at least 40 points.
Memphis led 7-0 after scoring on a 4-yard pass from Ryan Williams to Marcus Rucker on the Tigers’ first possession. Rucker would catch another touchdown pass from Williams late in the fourth quarter, this time for 38 yards.
“They went right down the field,” Dooley said of Memphis’ first score. “We were a little bit rattled. I had to calm them down. They were starry-eyed and jumpy.”
Williams completed18 of 27 passes for 221 yards for Memphis.
The bulk of Bray’s statistics came in the first half as he completed 17 of 28 passes for 308 yards and all five of his touchdown passes.
That helped the Vols carry a 40-7 lead into halftime.
“We planned on throwing the deep ball and trying to get behind their defense,” Jones said, “but we also ran the ball a lot.”
He added that the Vols “just threw the ball because that’s what Tyler’s best at. No disrespect to Memphis. They fought their hearts out, but Tyler made the game easy. We didn’t really have to make a hard catch or anything.”
And the Tigers were as pitiful on both sides of the ball as the score indicated.
“I thought my kids fought,” Memphis coach Larry Porter said, “but we just couldn’t get in rhythm and couldn’t get anything going.”
Tennessee already had 398 yards of offense at the break.
Bray was spreading out the scoring passes, hitting Poole and Justin Hunter (42 yards) for touchdowns in the first quarter.
The second-quarter scoring passes were to Denarius Moore (14 yards), Da’Rick Rogers (22 yards) and Jones (9 yards).
Michael Palardy added field goals of 24 and 32 yards for Tennessee, which scored on every possession, except its first, in the half.
“It was just different route combinations,” Bray said of the first-half success. “We didn’t just shoot down the field. We like to spread it out.”
The Vols held the Tigers to 117 yards of offense, including only eight yards rushing in the first half. Memphis finished the game with 308 yards of total offense.
Midway through the third quarter, Simms replaced Bray and was 3-of-5 for 54 yards.
In addition to Poole’s 21-yard scoring run, Palardy added his third field goal of the night from 33 yards in the second half.