published Wednesday, October 3rd, 2012

Wiedmer: Letter to Tennessee's Tyler Bray — time to be the Vols' solution

Tennessee quarterback Tyler Bray prepares to pass as offensive lineman Marcus Jackson (68) and Dallas Thomas (71) hold back Georgia defensive end Cornelius Washington (83) during the Vols game against Georgia at Samford Stadium in Athens, Ga.
Tennessee quarterback Tyler Bray prepares to pass as offensive lineman Marcus Jackson (68) and Dallas Thomas (71) hold back Georgia defensive end Cornelius Washington (83) during the Vols game against Georgia at Samford Stadium in Athens, Ga.
Photo by Patrick Smith.

Dear Tyler Bray,

Just writing to ask that you use your off week wisely. Certainly it's tempting to blow off a little steam this time of year. But you already did that back in the summer, didn't you? So let's forget about trying to hit a dumpster with a beer bottle while riding a jet ski, shall we?

Besides, in case you haven't realized it, your college career is basically two-thirds over. And that's if you come back for your senior year. But more on that later.

So for now, try to buckle down in the film room, focus on the little things every day in practice -- like holding onto the football -- eat well and sleep at least eight hours every night.

With road games at Mississippi State and South Carolina and a home contest with top-ranked Alabama all staring you in the face before Halloween, you're going to need all the preparation and rest you can get.

Why the concern, you might ask.

In case you haven't figured it out yet, Tyler, you're a pretty big deal in these parts. For 12 weekends every autumn -- and, hopefully, a bowl game afterward -- at least half the Volunteer State's citizens hang on everything you do, good and bad.

Given half a reason, some of those fans would name their children after you. Or have you ever wondered where all those 15-year-old boys named Peyton came from?

Yet nearly halfway through your third season, you haven't delivered the goods even once against the upper echelon of the Southeastern Conference. Not once.

Right now, your only significant victories for Tennessee have come in a home game against Big East member Cincinnati last season and this year's opening win against North Carolina State in the Georgia Dome.

Sure, you've thrown for more than 5,000 yards since you arrived from California in the winter of 2010. You've tossed 49 touchdown passes, hit nearly 60 percent of your throws and made enough preseason quarterback award watch lists to buy a nice suit rather than rent one.

And we all know you just threw for 281 yards and two touchdowns against the No. 5 Georgia Bulldogs. But your team lost, and at least part of the reason for that defeat was the three interceptions and one fumble you surrendered.

Don't misunderstand. You've got one of the top four or five arms in college football. The football literally sings when exiting your right hand. Probably half the quarterbacks in the National Football League would trade their second home and third foreign car to be able to sling it like you.

But if the ability to pass it long and straight and fast was the No. 1 requirement of an NFL QB, Brian Sipe wouldn't have won an NFL MVP award in 1980 and Trent Dilfer wouldn't have won a Super Bowl ring 20 years later.

Smarts and discipline and toughness count at least as much as a golden arm at the next level, and so far you're batting 1-for-4 in those categories.

It could be argued that at least some of this isn't your fault. While it seemed like a good idea at the time when Coach Dooley elected to keep you on the bench against SEC giants Alabama, Georgia and LSU your freshman year, one could now make the case that it created a false sense of security and confidence in you.

Instead of being grateful that your mistakes didn't cost you victories, you seemed to embrace the notion that your raw talent could always carry the day. You didn't need to study video. You didn't need deft footwork. You didn't need to audible into the perfect running play for a weakside blitz, because, hey, you'd been winging it and flinging it all your life to pretty fair results.

If it worked against Memphis and Ole Miss, it would surely work against the Crimson Tide and Bayou Bengals, wouldn't it? Well, wouldn't it?

Instead, you'll enter the Alabama game as a junior having never faced the Tide. And no matter what new defensive coordinator Sal Sunseri tells you about his old employer that week, Bama boss Nick Saban is sure to send some blitz package your way that Sunseri's never seen before.

We know you never thought you'd be in this position. You figured you'd pass the Vols into the top 10 by now, have draft gurus Mel Kiper and Todd McShay on speed dial and find a tattoo artist capable of etching the Heisman Trophy into your backside beneath your super-sized name.

And if you light up the Southern skies these next few weeks with TDs and yards and highlight videos, you'll surely have all the reasons you'll need to turn pro, beginning with the fact that your four best receivers -- Justin Hunter, Cordarrelle Patterson, Zach Rogers and tight end Mychal Rivera -- are all likely off to "the league" next season either by graduation (Rivera and Rogers) or early entry.

But judging from these first five games, you're nowhere near ready for the NFL. You need to be stronger, tougher, more mobile and much wiser.

Not to be cruel, Tyler, but when this season began you were perceived to be the best reason for hope. Five games and two very big SEC losses later, a lot of people are starting to wonder if you're the solution or the problem.

Don't become the problem. Become the solution. Hit the weights and the film room and the practice field from this day forward as if your professional life depended on it. Because sooner or later, it will.

But until that time, such hard work will also surely help the Volunteers, which is more than enough for you to worry about at the moment.


An Interested Observer

about Mark Wiedmer...

Mark Wiedmer started work at the Chattanooga News-Free Press on Valentine’s Day of 1983. At the time, he had to get an advance from his boss to buy a Valentine gift for his wife. Mark was hired as a graphic artist but quickly moved to sports, where he oversaw prep football for a time, won the “Pick’ em” box in 1985 and took over the UTC basketball beat the following year. By 1990, he was ...

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Lefty said...

Dear Tyler Bray, Please ignore the letter from this hack of a sports writer and listen to your coaches. Please understand that he is a pompous blow-hard with nothing better to do than write condescending open letter to a college kid.
Thanks, Everybody else.

October 3, 2012 at 9:03 a.m.
nkimsey said...

Your letter is ineffective right out of the gates. I can only assume that by writing this letter you actually want Bray to read it and take your advice. I am only 35 years old, but I have learned in my life that when dealing with other people and attempting to have them come around to your way of thinking it is very ineffective to throw in underhanded jabs and sarcastic comments. If you want to use your column to give Bray some advice would it be better received by him without those type of jabs? When you approach a person like you have here it accomplishes nothing and quite possibly makes the issue even bigger. I am also quite sure that because of the underhanded jabs and insults, Mr. Bray will most likely read this, tell you to F%*k off and throw it in the trash. All because of how you approached it.

Are you not wiser in your old age than that? Have you not already learned these life lessons?

October 3, 2012 at 10:16 a.m.
matrosscbc said...

Mark....your wife would like you to perform better as well....but like Bray, she is aware of it....she just didn't see the need to state the obvious.

October 3, 2012 at 12:35 p.m.
doctoroforange said...

Letter to Mark Wiedmer:

You're an as5hat.

Sincerely, An Uninterested Reader

October 3, 2012 at 2:28 p.m.
GeeBo said...

Open letter to Marc:

You would think by the condescending nature of how this "piece" is written, that you were a 16 year old girl. Things must be tough these days in the ole office, you know with your medium becoming obsolete and everything. Maybe you could hit up the fan forum circuit after all of this is done, although you would have to step your game up.

October 3, 2012 at 2:55 p.m.
rednav said...

Wiedmer, attach a boomerang to the end of your belt and not even Tyler Bray could throw that thing around your waste. A letter to you - F. F is the first letter letter. F is for fat pantload. You are a pantload. Letter number two - A. A is for apple. You should eat some apples. Third letter - G. G is for get. You should get a treadmill. Forth letter - G. This G is for google. Google sanctimonious assclown and see where you come up. The fifth letter is O. O is for Ostrich burger. George Costanza says an Ostrich burger has less fat, but you eat more of it. Your last letter is T. T is for TENNESSEE VOLUNTEERS. The Tennessee Volunteers dont care about your letters, but I hope you enjoyed mine.

October 3, 2012 at 3:36 p.m.
CB_Vol said...

Tyler, please disregard this garbage and continue working hard. Oh, and I don't worry about whether you ride a jet-ski or not.


That was pathetic. This is the first and last time I've read anything written by you. It's my opinion that you're the one who should be thinking of "turn pro". But no...instead, you are calling out a college kid who was trying to make a play on the road against the number 5 team in the country.

You said, "[y]ou need to be stronger, tougher, more mobile and much wiser." Did you just make those qualities up because they seemed to fit your agenda?

Stronger? Tyler has the strongest arm in the SEC. Tougher? I would like to know how many QB's would come back a few weeks after having surgery on their throwing hand. More mobile? I'm sure Dooley and Chaney are extremely concerned about Bray's mobility and are working diligently on it during the bye week. Wiser? Like you, I have no idea about Tyler's wisdom. Unlike you, I know this and won't be ignorant by commenting on it.

You make a Peyton reference/comparison without mentioning his record against Florida? I believe I remember a 4 interception game from him. Was he the problem? Don't get me wrong...I'm a huge Peyton fan. Maybe he just didn't watch enough film. Maybe he was too busy "playing jokes" on female trainers. Maybe I should stop critiquing your work because it's a joke.

You will never understand the kind of pressure that a UT football player faces on Saturdays. You will never have millions of people watching you. Do you know why? Nobody knows who you are.

Unfortunately, I clicked on a link and read this crap. Fortunately, I know a solution to this problem. I will never click the following link again: ""


A One Time Reader

October 3, 2012 at 3:47 p.m.
jomo11 said...

Great column. Bray is an immature kid. There is defintely a reason ( not a good one ) that Bray didn't sign with a team in his home state. Bray is a head case will never win the big game. I think Weeds is spot on with his observations. If Bray is offened by this , then he can go throw beer bottles at cars, since it is too cold to do stupid things on a jet ski. . . . . .

October 3, 2012 at 11:29 p.m.
kayakvol said...

Very tough questions asked, lots of pressure on the kid. As most of us have been tested in one way or another, you learn and get better, or just don't get it. My bet is he plays better the rest of the season.

October 4, 2012 at 7:38 a.m.
chet123 said...

Shame on Tennessee for passing over home players and going out to california to get a far how is it working for you???? That whole bunch in knoxville neeed to be ran out of town,,,including the AD

October 16, 2012 at 3:50 p.m.
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