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What Are Vol Players Really Thinking After Tough Losses?

A number of Tennessee players spoke to the press on Monday and gave the impression that their confidence has not been rattled by the way the season has unfolded thus far, but that's a hard narrative to believe.

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

When asked if his confidence in Tennessee's ability to close out games was hurt by Saturday's double-digit meltdown, Joshua Dobbs simply responded: "No, it doesn't."

But how could this team's confidence not be shaken after a loss like that? Multiple times during his short press conference Dobbs stated that "we didn't get the outcome we wanted" and he talked often about the "game plan" and that it had to be followed. He has clearly been coached up by the quality public relations team behind Tennessee football, but one has to wonder if his confidence actually has not been affected.

Circumstances out of the players' control unfolded on Saturday that effectively cost Tennessee the game. Conservative play calling from coordinators, bumbling of clock management, and the now-notorious decision to kick an extra point instead of a going for two after a late-game touchdown all added up to putting the Vols players in tough situations that made it extremely difficult for the team to succeed. All of this and these athletes have unwavering confidence in this coaching staff? It may be true, but it's hard to think that I would feel the same way if I was in their shoes.

Cornerback Brian Randolph spoke in a positive way during his time with the media and talked about looking past the game and moving on and improving. It's nice to hear that but we all know the players hear the chatter, they look at Twitter, and they know the sentiment of the fans. It's easy for them to say in a press conference that they're not effected by crushing losses but with the way Tennessee protects its image and teaches players to stick to the message, it's become cloudy when determining what the true feelings of the players are and what is just a public relations facade.

Obviously players do have to look past this awful meltdown against Florida and concentrate on Arkansas and many have the discipline to do this. But two crushing losses in three weeks have to shake your confidence. If that doesn't get in your head, you're not human.

We likely won't figure out how the players actually feel, and that's probably for the best. But fans have to hope that when the Vols take the field on Saturday, they'll only be thinking about beating Arkansas and not the collapses of the last few weeks.