Tennessee Football: Can Tyler Bray Lead the Volunteers to SEC Title Contention?

Sam CatronContributor IIIOctober 5, 2011

COLUMBIA, SC - OCTOBER 30:  Tyler Bray #8 of the Tennessee Volunteers against the South Carolina Gamecocks during their game at Williams-Brice Stadium on October 30, 2010 in Columbia, South Carolina.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

"In Bray We Trust"

Now that Justin Hunter is down for the year, Vols fans need Tyler Bray even more.  What is also apparent is that Tyler Bray wants to be needed.

Last year was a telling year for Bray.  He started the last five games of the year, going 4-1 as a starter and earning SEC Rookie of the Week three times.  In each of those games, he threw for multiple touchdowns and threw for 300+ yards in four of those games.  

I'd say he transitioned from high school to the SEC quite well.

Now he's showing the SEC that even without his No. 1 threat at wideout, he's not afraid of anyone or any defense.  In the first two games of the 2011 season, Bray threw for 293 and three scores and 405 with four scores.  In the next two games—without the help of Justin Hunter—Bray threw for 288 with three scores and 432 with four scores.

His only interceptions of the year (two) came in a 33-23 loss at The Swamp.  Let's note that he threw the ball 48 times that game.

Right now, Bray is tied for fifth in the NCAA in touchdowns (14) and is seventh in QB rating (176.1).  He also has an average of 9.3 yards per attempt and a completion percentage of 68.5.

Bray leads the SEC in all four of those categories.

Did I forget to mention that he's only a sophomore?

But the question remains: Can Tyler Bray lead the Volunteers into SEC title contention?

The answer is yes, but he must get some help.

Losing Justin Hunter for the year hurts.  Having a league worst three yards per carry hurts even more.

With a very young receiving corps that still has Da'Rick Rogers (leading the group with six TD catches), the SEC title might not be in reach this year, but you never know.  It is all about who shows up on game day.