Tyler Bray picked the worst time to miss four to six weeks with a fractured thumb on his throwing hand.
Bray, the Tennessee Volunteers' sophomore starting quarterback, sustained the injury when he hit his hand a Bulldogs' helmet in the Vols 20-12 loss to Georgia on Saturday.
Bray, who will be out for the minimum of a month, had started the 2011 season strong, with the only loss (until Georgia) coming at the hands of Florida in the swamp. And as conference play gets into full swing, Bray is going to miss the most important games against the top competition in the nation that a young quarterback needs to elevate his game. Those games are vital to the learning curve of an SEC quarterback. Especially one who's only in his second year.
Filling in for Bray will be Matt Simms, who started eight games last season. It will be interesting to see how the Vols respond to the loss of their starting quarterback. No one expects them to take down an LSU or Bama, as they're still in rebuilding mode.
The Vols have shown they've been able to beat lower-grade teams, but if they want to compete on the national stage once again, they're going to have to get a few wins against top competition.
But everyone will learn a lot about the heart and spirit of this team if they play hard and don't give up on the season. A win against either South Carolina or Arkansas, the last two ranked teams they play the rest of the season, will give Tennessee something important to build on for next year.
How Bray responds to so much missed time in his young career will remain to be seen for a couple of years.