Bray improves 'a ton'

Tennessee's offensive staff measures progress in yards but Tennessee's quarterback measures progress in pounds ... thousands of pounds.

"I improved a ton since last scrimmage," sophomore Tyler Bray said following Saturday's final preseason dress rehearsal.

His numbers were good but not great — 10 completions in 20 attempts, 144 yards, one touchdown and no interceptions. So, what areas did he see progressing?

"Just all of 'em," he said. "Tempo, getting in and out of the huddle ... pretty much everything."

Bray admitted feeling pressure in the previous two scrimmages - pressure not only from the pass rush but from the lofty expectations created by his big finish last season. After a mid-week talk with offensive coordinator Jim Chaney, Bray said the two "decided to ty to relax and go back to playing like we did last year."

The quarterback said he was "rushing myself" in the earlier scrimmages by "trying to make things happen too fast and not just relaxing and trusting my line."

Bray's finest moment came in a four-minute end-of-game situation, when he capped a 99-yard drive by hitting Vincent Dallas with a five-yard touchdown pass. Bray had no idea how many plays were run during the time-consuming march, sheepishly noting: "I lost count."

He also guided drives that ended with TD runs by Marlin Lane (2 yards) and Jaron Toney (7 yards), along with drives that ended in a pair of 37-yard field goals by Michael Palardy. Overall, Bray thought the No. 1 offense took another step forward with two weeks left to the opener vs. Montana.

"You can never progress enough," he said. "We're never going to be perfect and score touchdowns on every play. Just improving that little bit every week is what matters."

Interestingly enough, Bray's longest completion was 28 yards. That suggests the 2011 offense may not be as reliant on the big play as the 2010 attack was.

"We're just trying to improve on the grind-it-out," Bray said. "We know we can't just sit back there and try to throw the ball all day because teams can scheme (to stop) that. We worked hard in the offseason to get that running game, and it showed up today."

Surprisingly, Tennessee's running game showed up in the person of Jeron Toney, a 5-10, 180-pound redshirt freshman walk-on from Alcoa. He led all rushers with 83 yards on 10 carries, including a scrimmage-best 28-yard burst.

"Jaron Toney played his butt off," Bray noted. "He broke a few long runs and just played well."

Scholarship freshman Marlin Lane chipped in 49 yards on 13 carries and senior Tauren Poole 28 yards on seven attempts. With sophomore Rajion Neal and freshman Tom Smith sidelined by injury, walk-on Reggie Juin chipped in 17 yards and a TD on 10 carries.

No. 2 quarterback Matt Simms and No. 3 QB Justin Worley completed 3 of 8 passes each. Simms' connections netted 51 yards, Worley's 17. Redshirt freshman Nash Nance threw just one pass all afternoon but it was a 10-yard touchdown toss to senior Anthony Anderson, who converted from cornerback to wide receiver one day earlier.

"Anthony Anderson made a one-handed catch in the corner of the end zone," Bray noted.

Da' Rick Rogers led Tennessee's receivers with 44 yards on three catches, including a 33-yarder from Simms. Justin Hunter added one grab for 28 yards and fullback Channing Fugate one for 24 yards. Anderson finished with two receptions for 16 yards. Freshmen DeAnthony Arnett (1 catch, 15 yards) and Dallas (2 catches, 12 yards, 1 TD) contributed and Nyshier Oliver, another player who converted from cornerback to wideout on Friday, chipped in one grab for 11 yards.

Bray thought the offense, as a whole, had its best scrimmage of the preseason today.

"As a total offense we relaxed," he said. "There wasn't anybody yelling at each other or being pressured. Everybody was relaxed and ready to play."

Inside Tennessee Top Stories