Tennessee coach Derek Dooley said Wednesday it would probably be a game-time decision on whether sophomore quarterback Tyler Bray would play this weekend against Vanderbilt.
In short, if Bray looks OK in warm-ups and feels good in warm-ups, he’s going to get a shot after missing the past five games with a broken thumb.
That said, Dooley has no idea what version of Bray the Vols might get after missing so much time.
“I’ve never had this experience. I think it’s very difficult [to come back],” Dooley said. “Of course, in Knoxville, everybody wanted Tyler to show up and Tinker Bell has his thumb fixed perfectly and he’s back to form the way he was five weeks ago, and that’s just not reality.
“Even if his thumb wasn’t broken, and he just took five weeks off and then came back, it’s hard for anybody to expect him to go out there and perform the way he was performing early in the season. It just takes time.”
Dooley said Bray has shared the first-team snaps this week in practice. Freshman Justin Worley has started the past three games, but senior Matt Simms has also played in the fourth quarter against South Carolina and Arkansas last week.
Vanderbilt coach James Franklin made it clear Wednesday who he wants to see under center for the Vols.
“We hope he plays,” said Franklin, referring to Bray. “We look forward to the challenge. Our kids are excited about it. And to be honest, watching them on film, it’s not like they’ve changed dramatically with Worley or whoever’s playing. They’re running very, very similar schemes.
“Obviously, with a veteran quarterback who’s had success, they’re able to do a little bit more, but it’s not like they go from a drop-back quarterback to an option quarterback or a dual-threat quarterback. It’s a very similar scheme, and it doesn’t change too much of what we’re going to do.”