A renewed sense of enthusiasm has fallen over a Tennessee football team which received a big shot in the arm last Saturday in Memphis. Yes, it was a case of beating up on little brother, but sometimes there's nothing like a little sibling rivalry to get your juices flowing.
Actually this team has been waiting for sometime for just the right spark. For now, that spark appears to be true Freshman Tyler Bray. 1st start, 5 touchdown passes and a record 308 first half passing yards. By the numbers, not a bad debut at all. Senior receiver Gerald Jones says the youngster can make all the throws, the NFL type passes which make him wish he had some more time in order to be on the receiving end of those darts.Unfortunately, time is running out on Jones and a Tennessee team still three wins shy of a potential bowl berth. And while that carrot dangles out there, the more pressing matter is trying to pick up that elusive first conference win. Enter a group of Rebels, who got quite rowdy in Oxford last season, McClustering Tennessee into submission by games end. While Dexter and Colonel Reb for that matter are gone, Ole Miss is still Nutty enough to give Dooley's Vols fits. It was tough enough facing Oregon this season, now the Vols must tangle with former Duck and current Mississippi quarterback Jeremiah Masoli. Defensive line coach and former Vol Chuck Smith compares this kid to Michael Vick, at least the on field version of the sly signal caller. This time last year, a Bray vs. Masoli match-up seamed about as unlikely as the Vols entering this season with another new head coach, but here we are. Another opportunity for youth to prevail and this program to take a big step towards growing up.
While blasting the Tigers in the Bluff City felt like old times, what really got Vol fans excited is the glimpse of what possibly lies ahead in the future.
Oh yeah, 50 total points is enough to get players and coaches alike energized about the task at hand. But that task remains: developing consistent play and a winning attitude.
It is that attitude which will define these players and not the season in which they're playing.