A different atmosphere for Tennessee football this season
By Dustin Dopirak, Knoxville News Sentinel
Tennessee defensive players hustle to their next drill while defensive backs coach Willie Martinez encourages them during the first fall session football practice. Jessica Tezak/News Sentinel
KNOXVILLE (News Sentinel) -
Tennessee football players and coaches have spent much of the offseason looking for ways to dodge questions about expectations and how they might affect the Vols as they head into the season with a Top 25 ranking for the first time since 2008.
But when they began preseason practice on Tuesday, they couldn’t help but admit there was a different atmosphere than in previous seasons.
“It’s a lot different,” senior offensive tackle Kyler Kerbyson said. “We really have a target on our back now. We’re not just seen as the easy game on the schedule. Teams are going to give us their best, the best that they have. Coach (Butch) Jones reminds us of that every day. He’s like, ‘Hey, you’ve got a target on your back, so you better be ready.’ ”
The same reason Tennessee has big expectations entering the season is the same reason they are equipped to handle them.