Tennessee was flagged for illegal formation on first down but Bama declined, choosing to accept an incomplete pass. The Vols were called for illegal motion on second down when freshman wideout Da'Rick Rogers was still moving when the ball was snapped. The infraction nullified a 15-yard run by tailback Tauren Poole and put Tennessee in second-and-15.
A delay-of-game penalty on the very next snap created a second-and-20. Two plays later, Tennessee was called for holding on a fourth-and-17 punt, forcing the Vols to punt again ... this time on fourth-and-25 from their 9-yard line.
After the game head coach Derek Dooley noted that Bray "struggled early ... didn't look like himself that first series."
"We had all our freshmen out there at quarterback and receiver," Dooley said. "That's when the administration broke down a little bit. Not having Denarius kind of compounded that problem."
Strangely enough, the mistake-prone series did not cost Tennessee any points. Alabama advanced to the Vol 8-yard line on its ensuing possession but Jeremy Shelley's 25-yard field -goal attempt ricocheted off the left upright.
Bray survived the awful start and played a bit better on his three subsequent series. After completing just 1 of his first 6 passes, he connected on four of the last eight to finish 5 of 14 for 39 yards. He guided Tennessee to Bama's 32-yard line on his next-to-last series but was intercepted in the end zone. He then drove the Vols to Bama's 6-yard line in the final seconds only to be sacked on fourth-and-goal.
Dooley conceded that Bray rallied from the second-quarter struggles and "did some things," before noting: "He's still a freshman."
Bray described his performance to date as "OK," adding: "The line has been blocking great, the wide receivers have been catching the ball and the running backs have been running good, so they've been kind of keeping the pressure off me since I'm young and not as experienced."
ANOTHER FROSH STARTS
Freshman Justin Hunter made his first career start as the Vols opened with a three-wideout, no-fullback set. He is the fifth rookie to start this season - joining offensive tackle Ja'Wuan James, defensive lineman Corey Miller, guard James Stone and kicker Michael Palardy.
Tight end Mychal Rivera's 16-yard catch in the fourth quarter was the longest of his career.
Matt Milton, a 6-5, 220-pound freshman wide receiver from Mascoutah, Ill., saw his first action of the season but did not record a catch.
Senior receiver Gerald Jones gained 52 yards on seven receptions, matching his career high for single-game catches.
Tauren Poole's 59-yard touchdown run in the first quarter was the longest run of his college career. It also was the longest run Alabama has allowed this season.
"I just hit a crease that was wide open," Poole said, "and you could have driven a truck through it."