KNOXVILLE -- First-year University of Tennessee football coach Derek Dooley said Sunday night that "it's too early in the week" to decide whether true freshman quarterback would again rotate in for junior starter Matt Simms at South Carolina.
At least one person -- Simms -- hopes that's not the plan.
Simms appreciates his coaches' "honesty" admittedly isn't a big fan of splitting time. He wasn't a big fan before UT's 41-10 loss to Alabama on Saturday in Neyland Stadium, and he wasn't a big fan in the immediate aftermath.
"Yeah, [coaches] know exactly how I feel about that," Simms said.
Simms' biggest question was the timing of Bray's entrance into the game.
Alabama had just taken a 10-7 lead in the first minute of the second quarter when Bray debuted on a first-and-10 at his own 24-yard line. The Volunteers were flagged for an illegal formation on the first play -- an incomplete pass -- but the Tide declined the penalty.
UT was flagged again for an illegal formation on the next snap -- Alabama accepted that one -- and the play clock expired before the next snap, moving the Vols back into a second-and-10 from their own 14. They punted two plays later.
"I knew the plan going into the game was to get [Bray] a few drives or whatever," Simms said. "By the way things were going in the game at that moment, I really didn't think that I was going to get taken out -- later on in the game maybe. They stayed true to their plan, and I respect that, and I thank them for being honest with me, but at the same time those drives right there, I feel like I need to be out there, because I feel like I'm missing out on plays that could have been made or penalties that could have been avoided."
Simms wasn't his sharpest before or after his Bray-induced delay -- he was fortunate not to get intercepted twice in the first quarter -- but the starter said the rotation didn't help his "rhythm."
"It definitely threw me off my rhythm a little bit when I went back out there, just getting the feel for the game again and the pace of the game," Simms said. "But as I continued to play, I got back in a rhythm again."
Both quarterbacks were intercepted in the second half, and neither threw a touchdown. Simms finished 12-of-22 for 117 yards, and Bray finished 5-of-14 for 39 yards.
"I thought he did good," Dooley said of Bray. "Early on, he was a little bit not himself, but we also didn't help him. We were calling some real low-percentage throws, some downfield throws. He wasn't at bad as I might have made it out to sound like in the press conference early on. He's doing fine. He's making progress.
"He's doing some good things [and] making some mistakes. It's just going to come in time."
Dooley said he'll know more today on the status of senior wide receiver Denarius Moore, who left the Alabama game after two plays with a head injury.
The coach said he had no issue with the seemingly inadvertent, helmet-to-helmet hit from Tide freshman cornerback DeMarcus Milliner that knocked Moore out of the game.
"I thought it was a good hit," Dooley said. "I thought Denarius, I don't think he read the run play correctly. Had he bounced outside, he might have gotten 30 yards. He cut inside, and he kind of slipped, so he was falling when the defender came at him. I thought it was a fair hit. Was it vicious? Of course it was. But it wasn't, I didn't think, outside the rules. It's a physical game, it's a tough game and it's a violent game. When you're ball-carrier, and you see a guy coming at you, you're not defenseless.
"Denarius is doing fine. We'll know his status tomorrow, but it'll be day-to-day. But he'll be fine."
UT's other new injury issue is sophomore cornerback Marsalis Teague's sprained big toe -- or "turf toe." Dooley said Teague will be "day to day" for the time being, which could be bad news for a secondary that already hasn't left coaches comfortable using a six-defensive back dime package all season.
"We're struggling, because we're not playing very well, even [with] who's out there," Dooley said. "We've been talking about that today, and we'll see what we do going forward. We don't know yet. We're still going to keep searching for answers."
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