Tyler Bray’s arm strength and presence in the pocket jump out at you.
So do his eye-popping numbers in 14 career games as Tennessee’s starting quarterback. He’s thrown for 4,172 yards, 39 touchdowns and 13 interceptions.
What’s missing in those 14 starts is a marquee win.
Bray gets his chance Saturday against No. 18-ranked Florida, which has won seven in a row over the Vols.
We caught up with Tennessee’s talented junior quarterback earlier this week for a Q&A:
How do you want to be remembered here?
Tyler Bray: By how many games we won and who we beat. I don’t care how many touchdowns I’ve thrown, and nobody cares. As long as we’re winning ballgames, that’s all I care about. That’s all the fans care about, and that’s how it should be.
Is it fair to say that you need to win a big game before you can be considered as one of the top quarterbacks in college football?
TB: We need to go out there as a team and get a win like this, because they’re going to keep saying we haven’t beaten anybody in the SEC that good. It’s time to put all that behind us and move on.
Your coaches have talked a lot about you being a more mature quarterback. Where have you matured the most?
TB: Last year, we were like, ‘We’re going to throw it deep regardless.’ This year, if it’s not open deep, we’re going to check it down and let the running back make a play. That and the red zone and not thinking I’ve got to throw a touchdown on every pass. There’s nothing wrong with throwing it away on first down if nothing’s there. There’s still going to be a second and third down.”
What do you think the NFL scouts want to see in you or any quarterback other than the obvious skill set that it takes to play in that league?
TB: They don’t want a quarterback coming in that hasn’t won a bunch of ballgames or doesn’t know what it’s like to win. They want a guy who’s a winner, doesn’t lose much and is a fierce competitor.
How do you like the no-huddle offense that you guys have shown some of this season?
TB: Every quarterback, I think, likes the no-huddle. You saw Peyton [Manning] do it the other night. It’s easier. You don’t have to think as much. You get up to the line and see what the defense is running and run the play.
How much does it bother you that Florida has beaten Tennessee seven straight times?
TB: It does bother us. This team’s got a bit more maturity this year. Last year, we probably wouldn’t have cared what the streak was. This year, we’re taking some pride and taking some ownership. We need to beat them.
What do you remember about the last time Tennessee won in 2004?
TB: I don’t know. I wasn’t watching Tennessee and Florida. That’s for sure. I was probably watching the Pac-10.
How do you think Florida will try to defend you Saturday?
TB: What they’re probably going to do is blitz a lot and try to get after me and make me throw under pressure and throw bad balls.
Don’t you like it when people come after you and dare you to beat them down the field?
TB: Yeah, you get hit. I’ve been hit a million times. It doesn’t hurt.