KNOXVILLE – Tennessee quarterback Tyler Bray’s performance in last Friday’s spring scrimmage was concerning to his dad.
It wasn’t, however, a concern to the laid-back, California-raised signal caller.
“I didn't even know until my dad called me and he was like, 'What's going on? Your numbers are terrible,’” Bray said of his 13-for-32 performance for 142 yards, one touchdown and one interception. “I was just like ah, first scrimmage, trying to run the ball. It is what it is.
“It's just dads, it's just kind of in one ear and out the other. He does it all the time. I normally hear more about the negative than the positive.”
Many Vol players echoed Bray's sentiment as they reflected back on their first scrimmage last Friday and prepared for the second one Saturday.
Linebacker Jacques Smith, who was credited with one tackle and two pass deflections in the first scrimmage, agreed with Bray’s attitude toward the statistics kept in spring scrimmages.
“No, I don’t even know them,” Smith said when asked what his numbers were from the first scrimmage. “I'm more about my missed assignments -- that's all I really care about. As long as I'm minimizing my missed assignments, then I'm doing what I'm supposed to do and they can't yell at me. That's my outlook on it.”
Not all the players acted as oblivious to their scrimmage performance numbers. Cornerback Eric Gordon had an impressive stat line of three tackles, a fumble recovery and a sack.
He said he took pride in his number line in that situation.
“We take it very seriously,” Gordon said. “I take pride in everything. Every day in practice is like a game to me and my teammates.”
From a coaching perspective, the scrimmage numbers may or may not be a good indicator of the progress a particular player or unit is making. Offensive coordinator Jim Chaney showed more concern about Bray’s first scrimmage output than did Bray himself.
"He was off target with the football," Chaney said of Bray in the first scrimmage. "It’s not always the case, but I think the numbers would indicate in this case that he didn't play particularly well."
Bray was able to shrug off his less-than-stellar performance in the first scrimmage, but also was adamant that he wanted to see his percentages improve when the numbers are posted on Saturday.
The quarterbacks combined to hit 30 of 62 passes in the first scrimmage—a completion percentage of 48.4 percent.
“Completion percentage,” Bray answered when asked what needed to improve. “Forty percent or 50 percent wasn't very good, so we just have to get that up and the team should follow.”
Improvement was a buzzword also used by head coach Derek Dooley when he was asked what he expected from his players in scrimmage No. 2. He stopped short of looking for particular numbers, but there’s no doubt the passing game was on his mind when talking about what he wanted on Saturday.
"I told the players, they need to reflect back to Monday and after the first scrimmage and think about the things they did well,” Dooley said. “Then they need to think about the things they need to improve upon and let's go out there tomorrow and try to show that we did it. All we're looking for is steady improvement.
“I hope we'll see that.”
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