Fall is in the air.
Derek Dooley's troops turned in a spirited two-hour practice at Haslam Field on Tuesday afternoon, and it's obvious that something special in the air.
"The competitive periods are getting better, which is encouraging to me," Dooley said. "Something we have been stressing since Day One, how we compete every day and the brand you develop as a player or team, how we compete."
No matter what the records are, when Alabama and Tennessee get together on the football field, it's special. There is no doubt about it.
"It's an honor to play in this game," senior linebacker Nick Reveiz said. "This is my first time to start against Alabama, I'm pumped, and it's not hard to get up for this one."
It doesn't get any bigger or better than this - just ask any Alabama fan last year after the Crimson Tide survived a late scare against Tennessee last year. Alabama had to block a game winning field goal not once but twice to stay undefeated and go on to win a national championship.
Dooley hasn't downplayed playing the defending national champions this week.
"So it's going to be a great opportunity for our players and a good responsibility on how we compete," Dooley said. "We are going against a phenomenal football team that's been kind of a standard in college football the last two years. Deep, talented, well-coached. We all know about them."
Dooley also realizes the importance of this game.
"This is what makes the SEC special and what makes this place special," Dooley said. "It's a great honor to be able to play in games like this."
Senior tight end Luke Stocker has played in this rivalry matchup his entire career and wants to go out his last year with a win.
"A ton of history in this competition, both teams want to win this game so badly, guys going out there laying their blood and guts out on the field," Stocker said. "It's really exciting and a big opportunity to be a part of it."
Bring on the Gravy
According to Coach Dooley, it will be gravy if players like Daniel Lincoln, Montori Hughes and a couple of others are able to play against Alabama on Saturday. Dooley stated that right now he expects those two to be out for the game, but would be a bonus if they played.
Dallas Thomas has seen more action this week and JaQuari Schofield is expected to be limited if he is able to play.