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Bray’s Mental Development Key For UT

In just half a season of work in 2010, then-freshman quarterback Tyler Bray put up a gaudy 18 touchdown passes for Tennessee.  Pretty impressive.  As were his 1,849 passing yards considering how much time he spent on UT’s bench.

But Bray also tossed 10 interceptions in that limited amount of playing time.  In fact, Bray was the living definitions of a gunslinger for the Volunteers in 2010. 

His talents were good enough to overcome many of his occasional into-coverage throws.  But now, his coach wants to see him develop into a better decision-maker, while still maintaining his short memory.

“We always talk about a white piece of paper,” quarterbacks coach Darrin Hinshaw told The Knoxville News Sentinel.  “Every play, you’re starting over.  It hurts when you make mistakes and things don’t go your way, and that’s good.  It should hurt, but on the same boat, we’ve got to be able to learn from it.  Learn from the negatives, but erase them and get ready for the next play — it can change the game, the next play.”

Last fall, Bray often displayed a truly Favreian demeanor.  If his last pass was an interception, he’d drop back and wing it again on the next play.  He didn’t rattle.

This spring, however, UT offensive coordinator Jim Chaney suggested that Bray was thinking too much at times in an effort to make better decisions with the football.  From the sound of it, he went from one extreme to the other.

Bray’s 2011 development will likely be the key to Tennessee’s season.  If he remains the gunslinger of 2010, he could conceivably toss 20 picks this fall.

But if he reins in his game too much, he might not pitch touchdown passes all over the yard, something the Vol offense will likely need to survive facing a brutal SEC schedule that includes games against the projected top three teams in West Division.

So keep an eye on Bray’s growth.  It could be one of the bigger storylines of the SEC season.




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