Head Coach Derek Dooley has indicated that true freshman quarterback Tyler Bray has struggled with reading the defensive coverage in games, but Dooley said if he sees an open guy and delivers the ball it's good enough for him, even though it might drive QBs coach Darin Hinshaw up the wall.
Hinshaw now has the challenge of balancing frustration based on faulty reading of defenses and the excitement of completed passes.
"The end result is the most important thing like Coach Dooley said, that we complete balls, get the ball out of our hands, no sacks," Hinshaw said. " The end result is always the most important thing, but the understanding of where you go with the football and why you do things helps you to get the ball out quick. We call it shaping a route."
Regardless of results, Hinshaw will continue to push the envelope in coaching his quarterbacks.
"In that process you never waver from that. You don't say, 'Oh well, this game go do whatever you want,' but Tyler has a knack for finding open receivers and being able to complete the ball.
"I coach them every day to get better, whoever is in there. That is my goal, to get them better every single play, every single snap and Tyler has gotten better since the first day he got here when he couldn't even take a snap under center to where he is right now. That is just going to continue and the better he gets, the harder I am going to coach."
One thing Hinshaw is sure of is that Tennessee fans aren't close to seeing the best of Bray.
"He has a great understanding and feel of where to move in the pocket, but there were a couple of times last week where he moved and he didn't have to," Hinshaw said. "There are still a lot of things that can get better with Tyler Bray and we have to keep working every day."
Head Coach Derek Dooley has continued to stress the importance of hard, consistent and competitive practice and it seems as though his team is starting to see the light.
"It's getting competitive and I feel like we are practicing better here down the stretch," Dooley said. "Hopefully it's going to carry over into the game."
Pad-popping hits and loud cheers rang out from Haslam Field during the closing moments of Tennessee's Wednesday practice.
Mixing It Up
Ole Miss might be one of Tennessee's biggest defensive challenges of the 2010 season. Why you ask?
They are extremely multiple on offense. Defensive Coordinator Justin Wilcox said Houston Nutt rarely gives you the same offensive look.
"They have a lot of variety in their play calling," Wilcox said. "Coach Nutt mixes it up a lot. What we have seen of them, they give you a thousand different looks.
"Whatever your defensive call is, you have to play plays on principle and you can't really cheat. Some teams you get a bead on by formation or personnel and you can make educated guesses on what they are going to be in. These guys you can't really do that."
All season defensive tackle has been a concern for the Volunteers, but this week it's not just Tennessee's defensive tackles that are the worry for the Vols. Offensive Coordinator Jim Chaney said that Ole Miss will present a big challenge for Tennessee's offensive line.
"The two big defensive tackles they will put in front of us is the biggest concern I have," said Chaney. "Ole Miss has a very good interior defensive line and their linebackers are very good and that's my biggest concern I have going into the ball game."
Freshman fullback Channing Fugate seems to have solidified his starting position following the academic suspension of senior Kevin Cooper. Jim Chaney says Fugate hasn't made any steps forward in his two starts, but that might be a good thing.
"I don't know about another step. I think he sustained good play for us," Chaney said. "I didn't notice a jump because I think he played a pretty good football game for us at South Carolina. I think he played another good ball game for us (at Memphis)."
Offensive lineman Zach Fulton (ankle) seems to be progressing better than expected, but it still appears that he is doubtful to play Saturday against Ole Miss.
Daniel Lincoln kicked well once again on Wednesday. Pending a setback heading up to game time it appears Lincoln will handle the place kicking duties.
Luke Stocker (concussion) practiced in a red non-contact jersey once again Wednesday afternoon, but is expected to be available for Saturday's game. Stocker has actually been battling an infection that flared up following the Memphis game. It turned out that was a bigger concern than the concussion, but it has since been remedied with antibiotics.
Marsalis Teague (toe) isn't quite back to 100 percent and it appears if he plays Saturday he still will not be. Teague will have to battle through the injury in order to get back onto the field this coming Saturday.
Derek Dooley and the Vols will continue preparation for the Rebels on Thursday afternoon and will have a walk-through Friday afternoon. The head coach will make it a point to attend the unveiling of the new General Neyland statue Friday evening.