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Talking Points: dust settles, positive attitude remains

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  • The folks who were challenged and/or displaced by underclassmen through competition this fall are having a good attitude about the whole thing. Montario Hardesty finds himself a co-starter with true freshman Bryce Brown, but says, "I think we can all do good things with the ball in our hand," and Dan Williams, who was practically a lock to start at nose tackle for much of the fall but has recently found himself as a co-starter with freshman Montori Hughes, concedes that he was making mistakes while Hughes was improving daily and says that Hughes is going to help the team.

    Tauren Poole took the biggest hit as he would have almost certainly been the second-string running back under the prior regime, yet he now finds himself fourth on the depth chart behind senior Hardesty and true freshmen Bryce Brown and David Oku. Poole, though, has this to say:
    It's been [competitive] the whole time, ever since Bryce and Oku got here. We all knew it was going to be like that, and it's been healthy competition. It makes each and every one of us better each and every day, and I think it's a great thing for the team.
  • As competitive and fast-paced as fall camp has been, Tennessee coaches and players are kicking it up yet another notch for the first Game Week of the Chimera Era. They are somehow also working on getting their legs back, an apparent inconsistency explained by more energy but fewer reps.
  • The offense is still missing some folks -- Gerald Jones, Denarius Moore, Austin Rogers, and Josh McNeil -- but the entire defense is back and ready to go ($?). Kiffin's conclusion? "[W]e must have practiced a lot harder on offense than defense this camp." Moore, by the way, is running agility drills during practice and looking like he could be back for UCLA.
  • Special teams will feature an abundance of starters, including Eric Berry and Montario Hardesty.
  • Newsflash: Tennessee is going to run the ball against Western Kentucky. Oh, and Hilltopper quarterbacks coach Bob Cole was Wyoming's offensive coordinator last year, and hopes to have two consecutive years of success as an opponent in Neyland Stadium. Unless he can figure out how to get Kiffin fired before Friday, I don't see that happening, do you?
  • QB prospect Tyler Bray is taking his official visit to Tennessee this weekend. Tall. Skinny. But QB.