Young Vol QB shows poise
Posted: Monday, April 19, 2010 5:13 pm
By: By BETH RUCKER, AP Sports Writer
KNOXVILLE (AP) — Tennessee quarterback Tyler Bray is young enough to still be a high school senior. In Saturday’s spring scrimmage, the freshman played with the poise of someone with much more experience.
Bray, who graduated high school a semester early and enrolled at Tennessee in January, threw a three-yard touchdown pass to Denarius Moore to lead the white team to a 16-7 win in the Orange and White game. Bray finished 18-for-40 for 200 yards to lead all quarterbacks.
“I was real pleased with his presence out there,” first-year coach Derek Dooley said. “He’s really a high school senior (but) wasn’t nervous, nothing jittery and performed the way he’d been performing all spring. I think that says a lot about him.”
Bray was at his best during the Volunteers’ hurry-up drill just before halftime that led to the touchdown. He completed six of nine pass attempts in that drive, hitting Tauren Poole twice on 14-yard tosses and Ben Bartholomew on two nine-yard passes.
Bray is competing for the starting job in the fall with junior-college transfer Matt Simms, who also had a few strong drives but faltered late in the game.
Simms connected with Gerald Jones three straight times for passes of 20 yards, 33 yards and a six-yard touchdown strike to pull the orange team within 10-7.
He finished 12-for-26 for 125 yards but gave up two of his three interceptions late in the second half that led to field goals of 28 yards and 48 yards by Chip Rhome for the white team.
“I did some things well. I did some other things not so well,” Simms said. “I wanted to come out and put on a show for the fans and get ready to work for the summer. It was good to get a little game preparation.”
Poole, who put on a show by bouncing off defenders like a pinball, lead the offense with 101 all-purpose yards, 58 yards receiving on three catches and 50 yards rushing on 12 carries. Dooley praised him for performing consistently well throughout the spring.
“Hopefully I can show them that I can be an SEC running back,” Poole said.
Jones led receivers with 84 yards on six catches, Matt Milton added 47 yards on six catches and Moore had 39 yards on three catches.
Linebacker Herman Lathers led the defense with nine tackles and had one sack.
Marlon Walls had three sacks for a loss of 16 yards.
It was Tennessee’s first Orange and White game under Dooley, who introduced a major change to the format.
Previously the spring scrimmage pitted the offense versus the defense, but Dooley allowed the senior Vols to draft teams to play in a regular game.
Dooley said much of the spring was spent determining what could be done with the Vols’ offense.
He cautioned that it would be hard to judge the quarterbacks much on their performances.
“With the quarterbacks, this game is always tough,” he said. “Matt and Tyler are very different in the things they do well. It’s hard to shape and gameplan to fit their strengths. That’s why you don’t want to put too much on this game.”