Published September 17, 2012 - 12:00pm
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“An NFL arm with a Friday night head.”
Was Tyler Bray the reason Tennessee lost to Florida? No. It was a team effort and team loss.
However, we thought just maybe Tyler Bray had turned the page in the off-season and matured into the player he has the potential to be, but his performance, or lack thereof, in the second half shows us he still has a long way to go.
Bray boasts the strongest arm in the SEC and maybe in the country. The stats speak for themselves – 900 yards and eight touchdowns and two interceptions through three weeks. But the one stat that counts, 0-1 in the SEC, is not in his favor.
The throws he made on Saturday were good. You can see the talent and accuracy. The backside shoulder pass to Cordarrelle Patterson, the touch pass to tight end Mychal Rivera in the end zone and several skinny posts to Patterson were right on the money. He has the talent to do that. But talent isn’t what makes a quarterback win football games.
Bray lacks the one thing you have to have as a signal caller in this league: the killer instinct. It’s like a closer in baseball. Managers bring the closer in late in baseball games because he has the killer instinct to win games with everything riding on the line. Bray is not a closer, yet.
The 2012 Tyler Bray mirrors the 2011 version.
It seemed like Bray and the rest of the team were waiting on something to go wrong so he and the offense could pack it in. That happened in the third quarter. After the intentional grounding call, Florida went up by two touchdowns and everything changed. Bray started hanging his head and getting frustrated. The body language was the telltale sign. The rest of the team feeds off the energy the quarterback provides. They were feeding off the negative injury Bray was dishing out.
Even on the sidelines, Bray was moping with Justin Hunter and Cordarrelle Patterson with nine minutes left in the fourth quarter, when realistically Tennessee could have scored so fast and gotten right back into the football game.
Some have projected Bray to be a first-round NFL Draft candidate. And while he certainly has the talent to be in that range, he lacks the mental makeup – or at least he did Saturday night. To play in the NFL is a whole other ballgame; we all know that.
Bray’s errant pass to Derek Dooley on the sideline in the fourth quarter in which Dooley caught and spiked the ball in frustration sums it all up. How could Bray know to act any different than his head coach? The leadership reflects the overall temperament of this team.
Tennessee and Tyler Bray just weren’t ready for the big stage. But they still have a ton of football games left to prove they are worthy and progress throughout the season.
Bray now falls to 1-6 against defenses ranked in the top 25, and Derek Dooley is 0-11 against ranked opponents.