As the buzz of busy students begins to settle in on campus, the Tennessee football team prepares for a new and better season.

After facing a difficult transition last year, the Volunteers are fired up for the fall and a fresh start. Quarterbacks coach Darin Hinshaw said sophomore starting quarterback Tyler Bray has already made progress this year, and that is what the team needs to succeed.

“We’ve got to continue to get better in the game,” Hinshaw said. “I’m talking about tomorrow get better, the next day get better, don’t worry about too far into the future and all that. Let’s just get better one day at a time.”

Hinshaw said that Bray seemed to understand the offense much better now than in the spring, but that the 6-foot-6, 210-pounder still needed to be ready to go in and make a throw, make a play and not be afraid. Hinshaw said Bray is in a learning process, and the mistakes and decisions he makes during practice are helping him prepare for the decisions he will make on the field.

“There’s certain situations in games where that decision is going to be points put on the board versus no points on the board, and you got to be smart,” Hinshaw said.

The team is also aware of the importance of Bray’s decisions. Senior tailback Tauren Poole said that although Bray is still a young quarterback, the team needs him to step it up.

“He knows where we have to be as an offense,” Poole said. “He knows that we need him to be on top of his game to be a good offense. We’re definitely making strides and him being a great leader like he is definitely has to come along.”

Behind Bray are senior Matt Simms, freshman Justin Worley and redshirt freshman Nash Nance. Worley was recognized as the Gatorade National High School Player of the Year in 2010 and Simms continues his role as a leader on the team, despite having lost the starting job to Bray last season.

“Matt understands the game of football really well,” Hinshaw said. “He’s got a lot of family that’s been in football for a long time and he wants to coach afterwards and he understands the game really well. So it’s good to have that kind of guy in the room.”

Simms said he is looking forward to his senior season and possibly scoring wins against some old rivals. Simms also said that although there are a few specific ways he would like to improve, all in all it is just about being a better player every day and improving on the little things.

“I can’t wait to run through the ‘T’ again this season and see those 100,000 fans,” Simms said. “This being my senior year, I’m just looking forward to enjoying it one more time.”

Simms said he and his teammates have been able to work as both a family and a team on and off the field. LSU is on his top list of teams to beat, but Simms said he is really just looking forward to SEC football.

“I definitely want to play LSU after everything that happened (in last year’s game),” Simms said. “I wouldn’t mind seeing North Carolina again in a bowl game, but I can’t wait to play

Florida, LSU, Arkansas and Alabama.

They’re what the SEC is all about.”

Bray is excited about the upcoming year and is confident enough in his team’s ability that he is not afraid to mention the possibility of an SEC Championship or even a national championship. He said the goal is to always improve from last year and get the team and the offense where they need to be.

“Just keeping the team going at a fast tempo,” Bray said. “We seem to play well when we move fast.”

Bray said the team is a big family and that being a family is what keeps the team fired up. He said he is full of confidence in his receivers and in the team as a whole.

“I got all the confidence in the world in them,” Bray said. “I’d trust them with my dog if I had to.”