Well, whether we wanted a quarterback controversy or not, we have one. Talk radio just became a very easy gig this week as we have nothing to do in preview of Memphis but to talk about quarterbacks. Tyler Bray is now listed as the #1 quarterback on the depth chart.
Listening to the local airwaves today, this will be a topic of no small discourse. Some people are absolutely in love with the idea while some are ready to head to campus and string up the entire coaching staff. (Pro tip: neither answer will bring Fulmer back; just let it go.)
It's not an easy call, and I honestly don't know if it's the right answer or not, but let's remember one very important thing: we only know a portion of the information that Derek Dooley and Jim Chaney have on hand. We know that Matt Simms is a tough kid who has taken an absolute pounding. We also know that Tyler Bray is underweight and is the bigger injury risk based on physical factors alone. On the flipside, Bray's passing is clearly superior and his field awareness appears to be better. Back to the frontside, Simms is more mobile and can scramble and block better than Bray. On the flipside again, Bray seems to shift in the pocket a lot better than Simms, and has already avoided several sacks that I thought were guarantees.
The short of it is that we as fans don't have the information necessary to decisively judge the coaches on this one, and we're going to fit the facts to our preferences.
And to be honest, the decision may hinge on off-field factors as much as the on-field ones.
I don't think this move has anything to do with "getting the freshmen in", as it's far more important for Dooley to win as soon as possible than to embark on a three-year plan. But at the quarterback position, there are so many little details that go into the decision. Which quarterback gets the team to practice better? Which quarterback takes to coaching better? Which one is improving faster?
And if this wasn't the quarterback position, it wouldn't nearly be so newsworthy. The truth of the matter is that the coaches have to play the guy who they think gives them the best chance to win. That's not just limited to gameday, but everything during practice and everything during downtime. If Tyler Bray is the guy that the team rallies around and plays harder for, then that's a huge point in his favor. I have no clue if that's the case, but that kind of detail can often decide the starting quarterback when all else appears equal, and that's the kind of thing we'll never know about.
Either way, we all owe Matt Simms a huge thanks for the beating he took and the competitiveness he displayed on the field. Of all players, I never thought he showed quit during some of those second-half blowouts. I'm not one to tell you how to think, but let me at least say that he's sacrificed a lot for the team; for the time, let's leave the criticism behind and simply appreciate what he's done that we may sit in the stands and be entertained.
Let some other emperor give thumbs-downs. For now, let's just beat Memphis.