Vols offense has 'maturity'

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ELIZABETHTON, Tenn. — Tennessee might be undergoing a complete schematic transformation on the defensive side of the football under coordinator Sal Sunseri, but Jim Chaney is on the brink of what is quite possibility the most talented offensive squad he has ever led as he enters his fourth season with the Vols.

Chaney, who arrived in Knoxville in 2009 under former head coach Lane Kiffin, has seen a shift in the Vols' offensive attack during training camp, which has sparked what seems to be a sense of optimism for the 2012 campaign.

"The maturity of this group — they are going out and going to work every day," Chaney told reporters Tuesday. "Sometimes you have to jump start them a little bit. It seems like in previous years it has been a constant jump-start. They seem a little more mature, a little more determined to be good and I have enjoyed that."

At the helm of the Vol offense is quarterback Tyle Bray, who has been hard at work from both a quarterbacking standpoint and as a new leader for the Orange & White.

"I am OK with (Tyler's progress)," Chaney said. "I think he is working pretty hard to do it. He is not throwing the ball to the wrong team and he is making better decisions. He and I are getting along fantastic. He and I haven't been yelling at on another much lately. Like I say I think I am in a pretty good frame of mind right now."

"He and I haven't been yelling at on another much lately. Like I say I think I am in a pretty good frame of mind right now."

Jim Chaney on Tyler Bray

Just the sheer time that Bray has been on campus as a junior has been a major contributing factor to an extreme jump in chemistry with Chaney, which has made major strides this summer.

"I think I know him a little better and he knows me," Chaney said. "The expectations are through the roof with that young man. I think he is a wonderful football player and any time he comes out and under achieves he should feel bad about that. Thus far he has been pretty conscience of that and hasn't happened a lot."

Bray, a Kingsburg, Calif., native has bulked up considerably since his freshman season and now tips the scales at 215 pounds. After playing just seven games as a sophomore due to injury (thumb), Bray has been named to the Davey O'Brien Watch List, the Maxwell Award Watch List, was named 2012 Preseason All-SEC Third Team by Athlon and Lindy's and received Lindy's "Strongest Arm in the SEC" award.

Now add in the fact that Bray has All-SEC wide receiver Da'Rick Rogers, a healthy Preseason All-SEC Second Team wide receiver in Justin Hunter and a five-star junior college transfer in Cordarrelle Patterson and you have a recipe for a lot of checkerboards in 2012.

"I don't feel like he is behind any of the other newcomers when it comes to (progress)," Chaney said of Patterson. "That month he had here in the summer with the other kids, that seems to have worked out pretty good. I am pleased with where he is at."

Patterson has already worked his way into the starting lineup as the third wide receiver behind Hunter and Rogers, but he has battled a shoulder sprain throughout camp that has kept his in a red non-contact jersey.

Joining Patterson in red has been senior tight end Mychal Rivera, which has left tight ends coach Charlie Coiner with a very small group for the past week of training camp.

"We went through Mychal's knee and then (Ben Bartholomew) had a little strained ham," Chaney said. "We have been battling that and we are trying not to kill Down's while we are doing it. Joe (Ayres) is doing a lot better since we moved him in. It has been OK."

Watch as offensive coordinator Jim Chaney addresses the media following Tuesday's practice at Milligan College:

Tennessee wide receivers coach Darin Hinshaw talks about the Vols passing attack with InsideTennessee.com:

Stay tuned for more Tennessee football practice coverage from InsideTennessee.com.

Chris Price is a staff writer for InsideTennessee.com. He was previously an intern for the site for two years before graduating from the University of Tennessee. He joined the InsideTennessee team in 2009.

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