That's particularly true this week
as the Vols attempt to move beyond last season's stunning 5-6 finish. Instead of
beating up on the Louisiana-Lafayette's of the world, the Vols will open with
"They're really a fine football team," Fulmer said of the Bears, who are ranked ninth in The Associated Press top-25 and 12th in the USA Today coaches' poll. "They don't have an obvious weakness. Marshawn Lynch is one of the best backs if not the best back in the country. He runs tough, but he can run away from you, catch the ball out of the backfield, and block well. Just a fabulous player.
"They'll get settled on a quarterback. They're getting started on a new style of offense, and you have to deal with that."
Challenging openers will be
prevalent throughout the SEC this week as
And then there's
Add the opponent to the way the
Vols finished last season, when they lost four consecutive games at one point
and five of their last seven games, and the
While playing a team such as
"Playing a team like
The nature of the game should also lend itself to a home-field advantage.
"The crowd has to crank it up," Fulmer said. "We have to give them a good reason to cheer, but they've got to be on their feet. That needs to be a real plus for us."
The Vols need all the help they can
get in this game, especially in light of their home struggles in recent seasons.
"At one time, we had the longest winning streak at home in the Southeastern Conference," Fulmer said. "I guess you're talking about last year. We didn't do quite as well and maybe a year or two before that.
"Y'all want to talk about recent history. Let's talk about history. We've been a good home team. The last couple of years haven't been exactly what we wanted, but we need to defend our stadium. That's been brought up and pointed out and something we've definitely talked about a lot."
As SEC teams turn their attention
toward their opener,
Simpson was arrested on drug and
gun charges after a traffic stop in May. He's currently in the midst of a
"Coach Shula just told me to come out and have fun and play and when it's time for the decision to be made, it will be made," Simpson said.
Simpson's absence could be a tough
blow for a defense attempting to replace seven starters and prepare for a
Kines is still around and seems to just get better with age, but with so many of those key defensive players moving on this could be a dangerous game for the Crimson Tide.
"Everybody knows that (
That's especially good news for an
offense counting on production and leadership from senior Courtney Taylor, the
only receiver with any significant experience.
"We've got to have him. We have to have all our playmakers on the field," offensive coordinator Al Borges said. "We're still searching for some guys, some depth. Rod Smith has proven he has the potential to be a playmaker. Courtney has always been that way. We're trying to bring him around so he's not getting re-injured. He hasn't had an opportunity to show what he's capable of."
As the Gators prepare for Southern Miss, coach Urban Meyer said mercurial senior DeShawn Wynn and sophomore Kestahn Moore are the most likely candidates to be the team's No. 1 back, followed by sophomore Markus Manson.
If Wynn played up to his potential, he would be the most obvious choice for the Gators.
"He's one of those guys who can't handle positive reinforcement, but he's practicing his tail off," Meyer said. "There are some kids who can't handle it. You give them positive reinforcement and they go out there and don't practice very hard. What motivates them is a coach in his grill the entire time. I don't mind doing that if that's what it takes."
If Wynn can't get his act together,
Meyer seems ready to move on to
"He's a hard runner," Meyer said. "He might not be as fast as some of them, but it doesn't help if you're fast and don't use it. Yeah, I would say he's the most reliable."
"The one thing about Joe that I always loved and respected about him and that all the other guys I know, (David) Pollack and a bunch of the other guys felt the same way, is that Joe T. is a warrior," Greene, a reserve quarterback with the Seattle Seahawks, told the Athens Banner-Herald. "The guy leaves his heart and soul on the field when he plays. I wouldn't necessarily say that Joe is the flashiest guy in the world, but that's like me. I wasn't flashy at all either."
Georgia fans have been eager to see talented true freshman Matthew Stafford play, but Stafford often struggled in the preseason while Tereshinski proved to be more steady and solid, as well as physically and mentally tough.
"He's one of those guys that you know what you're going to get when it's time to play the game," Greene said. "You're not having to worry about, 'Is the guy going to be ready to play this week or is he not?' The guy's going out there ready to go all the time.
"He's the type of guy that in my opinion isn't going to be the type of quarterback to run out of bounds. He would just as soon run over everybody. It's kind of fun to have a guy like that."
Of course, it helps that
Tereshinski's second career start will come on Saturday against Division I-AA
Of the 22 offensive linemen signed
by Richt and his staff since 2002, 13 won't be available for the
"When I used to think about it, I'd get nervous," Richt said. "Now, I just don't think about it."
Richard Scott is a Birmingham-based sports writer, author and featured columnist in Tiger Rag. Reach him at RScottfree@aol.com.