As if Tennessee's loss to Georgia in front of a packed Neyland Stadium wasn't enough, the Vols may have lost their biggest offensive weapon before the brutal October stretch that began Saturday against the Bulldogs.
Tennessee quarterback Tyler Bray hurt his right thumb late in the fourth quarter, during the Vols' only touchdown drive of the night, and was forced to leave the after hitting a defender's helmet on a pass.
Bray tried his best to grip a football on the sideline, but threw it down in disgust after realizing his night was over. The thumb was X-rayed following the game, but the results were not immediately available.
Backup quarterback Matt Simms drove the Vols the rest of the way to the end zone following Bray's exit. The senior was 4-of-6 for 39 yards and ran in the Vols' only touchdown of the night.
The Georgia game was supposed to be one of the winnable October games for Tennessee.
Even though Bray wasn't himself for much of the night, the sophomore still had 251 passing yards on 18 completions. But he wasn't the best quarterback in the building for the first time all season. Bulldogs QB Aaron Murray was 15-of-25 with 227 yards, despite having to deal with dropped passes on multiple occasions.
Murray's 71-yard heave to Malcolm Mitchell from his own 7-yard line to set up Georgia's final score was the play of the game.
The Vols must now host No. 1 LSU and travel to No. 2 Alabama in back-to-back games before coming back home to face the South Carolina Gamecocks.
The South Carolina game might still be winnable without Tyler Bray, but facing the top two teams in the nation in consecutive weeks without your biggest offensive weapon is not a recipe for success for a rebuilding program.
The fact is, Tennessee lost its top receiving threat, Justin Hunter, for the season in the Vols' first SEC game at Florida. Now, it appears they may have lost Bray for a while after their second SEC matchup.
Considering that trend, there's no telling how many injuries could come out of the games against defensive juggernauts LSU and Alabama.
October was going to be hard enough with Tyler Bray. Facing that slate without him could prove to be the absolute worst-case scenario for this young team.