Sep 27

Jai Eugene

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Vols QB Tyler Bray needs a break from football

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Quarterback Tyler Bray hasn’t been feeling well for more than a week now, and Dooley said he thought Bray was “doing fine now.” After the junior took heat for poorly handling the Vols’ second-half collapse against Florida, Dooley was proud of how Bray bounced back in that regard against Akron. He had eight incompletions on his first 16 passes but just seven on his next 27 attempts. Tennessee Vols wary of Dogs’ big plays | timesfreepress.com

So Tyler Bray is nearing mental and physical exhaustion from the game he loves. 

Bray throws his body under a bus on a weekly basis seemingly without any thought for his personal safety and has done so since arriving at Rocky Top.

Is anyone surprised?  They shouldn’t be.  Finally the Knoxville sports media has  taken notice with this poignant and timely column:  Recently Bray’s body language placed under the microscope as being offensive to the fans and his teammates.

Perhaps Coach Dooley should consider making the smart call about making Tyler Bray take some time away from the game. 

As usual, Dooley will borrow a page from his wife’s OB/Gyn playbook, 

Derek Dooley literally monitors this team like his wife would monitor Braxton Hicks contractions during pre-term labor.

Dooley recognizes that his players are operating at higher and higher levels of physical and mental performance, but college football’s calendar has not adjusted to the demands. 

All of the warning signs of Bray’s fatigue are there.  The sad to angry to tears all at the drop of a hat (remember this?), his streak of reckless behavior incidents (beer bottles, the jet ski),  the lack of concentration during games (or this pass?) and even his most recent flu bug were red flags that Coach Dooley can not ignore.

The kid  is a marvel but he’s still human. So, given the battering his body takes, it seems eminently sensible to allow him to take some time out from the grind of the brutal SEC schedule.Bray looks fatigued

Dooley proves over and over again why he is such a great coach and leader,  and how he genuinely loves and cares for his players.  He recognizes that football is really nothing more than just a game and the physical health and mental wellness of his players must come first. Tennessee is lucky to have Dooley, or is it Tennessee should be lucky that Dooley will have us?

There really is no downside to a decision by Dooley to let his star QB to take off a couple or three games to recharge his batteries, rest his cannon and refresh his mind.

Unless you’re a Tennessee fan, and you’re contemplating the prospect of the best player in the game missing for critical conference games.

But even then it’s not exactly the end of the world.

The Vols have some pretty able backups in the form of Justin Worley and Nate Peterman.  Heck,  Dooley could just run the wildly successful wildcat offense, led by linebacker A. J. Johnson, almost exclusively until Bray returns.  I trust Dooley to make the best decision for our program’s success. 

I don’t have any problem with Bray missing the Georgia, Bama, Mississippi State, and South Carolina games with a projected return against non-conference opponent Troy.  My personal wish is he goes somewhere where he can just be anonymous.

Bray’s stats certainly support the case for him taking a mini mid-season vacation.  Consider that for his career as a starter, in non-conference games he has 30 TD passes and only four interceptions. In SEC play, he has thrown 15 TD passes and 12 picks.  Missing those three conference games  might be the best thing for Bray and the team.

It’s a small price to pay for giving this guy the space he needs to gather himself for a strong November run for a BCS bowl bid. 

Bray has earned the right to take this break. The sight of him still performing at such an incredibly high level against staunch Akron and Florida defenses was a testament to that.

A lot of football savvy people now rate Bray as one of the best QBs to wear the orange jersey. Certainly he’s right up there among the most esteemed players to have donned the orange,  full stop, and his respite should not be begrudged.

Almost daily Bray is badgered to the point of distraction due to his status as one of the college football’s most loved and revered identities.  Completing meals in restaurants without being interrupted by fans has become rare and recently there was the story of an Alcoa  bus driver who stopped in the road so he could jump out and photograph Bray.

To my mind he’s earned the right to give that his best shot. Even if there is a little bit of short-term pain for some long-term gain.

Tennessee fans should get used to it because Bray will not be the last Vol to ask for, or require, some extended R & R.

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Jai Eugene

Jai Eugene

No I am not the real Jai Eugene from LSU. Or as Jai is known at Tennessee as "the one that got away". I am retired Army Aviator that happens to have a blog that produces sometimes relevant Tennessee Vols content. Sure those dicks over DawgSports and the MGOBlog say we are a little "analysis challenged". Maybe it had something to do with me helping to defend their first amendment rights overseas while they were out shopping at the mall. Anyway, we have been around since 2006. Been mentioned in GoVolsxtra, Sports illustrated, ESPN, the Atlanta Journal and Deadspin to name but a few major left wing sports media that seem to think we do a pretty good job. If you have story tips, want to chat or advertise on the site contact me at loserwithsocks@gmail.com
Jai Eugene

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