JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. – There was one pass during Saturday’s scrimmage that Tyler Bray thought he was simply throwing away as the defense closed in on him. Instead, it landed perfectly in the outstretched arms of Justin Hunter as he tip-toed his way down the sideline for a 14-yard gain.
That is the kind of connection Bray has developed with his two primary receivers, Hunter and Da’Rick Rogers.
“There’s really a bond between us,” Bray said. “They know where they need to be, and I know where they will be to throw the ball. I can pretty much just put the ball up in the air and I know one of them will catch it.”
That is a scary thought for Tennessee opponents.
Prior to Hunter’s season-ending knee injury last year, the Vols scored 87 points in their first two games, with Bray completing 21 passes for 502 yards and five touchdowns to Hunter and Rogers alone.
In its third year together, the Tennessee trio thinks it is primed for its most productive season yet.
“We’re just out there having fun,” Hunter said. “We’re a little closer than last year, and now we really know what we need to do.”
If Saturday’s scrimmage is any indication, the three Vol standouts will pick up right where they left off early last season.
Of Bray’s 18 completions, 13 went to his top two receivers with Hunter hauling in seven for 47 yards and Rogers catching six for a team-best 105 yards and a touchdown.
Getting the passing game going early in training camp has been a top priority for the Vols as they use it to set the tone and give the rest of the offense a boost of confidence.
“It is the most important because we have big receivers, a big quarterback and an offensive line that loves to pass block,” Rogers said. “Once we got our pass game going, we feel like we can get anything going with big plays or short gains and that is what I feel like we did [Saturday]. I felt like we came out and played fast and physical.”