With quarterback Tyler Bray officially out for at least four weeks with a fractured thumb, Tennessee turns to a familiar face under center in senior Matt Simms when it hosts top-ranked LSU on Saturday at 3:30 p.m.

Simms replaced Bray after he hit his thumb on a defensive lineman’s helmet while passing against Georgia late in the fourth quarter. Simms completed 4-of-6 passes for 39 yards and rushed for UT’s only touchdown.

Bray has the seventh best quarterback rating in the country with 1,328 yards and 14 touchdowns against two picks.

“It’s a big loss,” center James Stone said, “but we’re just going to be able to support Tyler, but still look forward and be able to support Matt when he comes in, transitions in and be able to take the team as we go in and get ready to play this week.”

Although he has only attempted eight passes in three games this year, Simms was the starter in UT’s 2-6 start last season, completing 58 percent of his passes for 1,406 yards with just five interceptions before Bray took over for the last five games. He was constantly under pressure last year with an extremely young offensive line, which only had three combined starts heading into the season. Simms was sacked 25 times and hit/hurried many more.

“Matt has been great and I’m proud of Matt to this point,” UT coach Derek Dooley said. “Of course we all know how disappointed he was last year when we made the switch (to Bray) and it’s tough to go out there and watch the other guy light it up, which is what Tyler did. Of course, then it is the talk of ‘is he coming back or is he transferring?’ I told Matt we were going to need him this year. Most of the time you need your two. I was hoping we wouldn’t but we need him and that’s why he’s here.

“He brings a lot of leadership ability. He has been in the fire before. He has a real good command of the offense and he has prepared every week like he is a starter. This is his time and we will see how he does.”

Simms was 12-of-23 for 121 yards at then No. 12 LSU when Tennessee lost 16-14. The Vols appeared to have handed the Tigers their first loss of the season on a goal-line stand, but Tennessee had 13 players on the field and had to redo the down, giving LSU one last shot to win the game, which they took advantage of.

“We’re pretty confident with Matt, he does fairly well at practice,” Stone said. “He was able to get a lot of experience last year. We’ve all played with him before, so it’s not going to be as big of a deal.”

Even with the injuries piling up for the Vols, Dooley said they have to just move forward.

“Nobody’s going to feel sorry for Tennessee, and nobody’s going to feel sorry for me, and that’s fine,” he said.

Added defensive tackle Malik Jackson: “From my experience, you’ve just got to move on. The train never stops as far as football season.”

Poole injury

Derek Dooley said running back Tauren Poole is day-to-day with a hamstring injury. Poole left the Georgia game in the second quarter and did not return.

 7:15 Alabama kickoff

Tennessee’s game against No. 2 Alabama on Oct. 22 is set for 7:15 p.m. at Bryant-Denny Stadium on either ESPN or ESPN2, depending on scores of this Saturday’s games.