Football practice starts today, and Derek Dooley is among those suddenly inflicted with Pre-seasonal Affective Disorder, making him all hyper optimistic and everything:
"This is the best time for a coach," he said. "We're undefeated, the fans are excited, we're gonna win 'em all, and we're the same way at Tennessee. We're really excited about our season. I think we're going to be a fun team to watch, not that we're going to come out there looking like a big-time team, but I think we're going to get to that point because we have so much youth on our team, and watching them grow and develop and to see how quickly they're going to help bring this program back to the standards of what the fans have, I'm looking forward to it. It's going to happen, I don't know when, but I appreciate all the support you guys (have for) our program, and anything you guys need from us, don't hesitate to pick up the phone."
There were a couple of brief moments of lucidity in there, but it's really good to see some excitement and positive anticipation for the upcoming season.
And here's the thing: There's actually some rational basis for all of this optimism. Tennessee is young, but the team actually has experience where it really counts, including at quarterback, along the offensive line (which GVX claims is the most experience in the SEC East), and in the secondary. It has vocal leaders who are not afraid of building up their teammates even at the expense of disrespecting rival players. It has a handful of solid but un-hyped players like Corey Miller, Zach Rogers, Marsalis Teague, and Channing Fugate who should plug holes and may even surprise. And Tauren Poole is expecting an improved rushing attack this season because the team can't rely on Tyler's "little bitty arm" the entire season. Oooh. It. Is On. Plus, that black cloud following the program for the past few seasons may actually be beginning to dissipate.
Maybe it's the glimmer of sunlight peeking over the horizon. Maybe it's the prospect of practice and the sound of whistles and shouts and shoulder pads doing their jobs. Whatever it is, it's football time in Tennessee, and it's the most wonderful affliction to have.