Vols remain confident

Tennessee's offensive production is down. Tennessee's scoring is down. Tennessee's won-lost record is down. You'd figure Tennessee's confidence would be down, as well, but that may not be the case.

Senior guard Cody Douglas says he can't speak for the entire team but that the offensive line has not lost its confidence … not by a long shot.

"With myself and my unit, I think the confidence level is high," he said. "We played fairly decent last week (vs. South Carolina) except for a couple of silly penalties. I believe we're leading the league in fewest sacks allowed and for the most part I think we're blocking pretty well.

"I think our confidence level is pretty high. I don't know about anybody else but our unit feels like it can play with anybody. I hope the other units feel the same way."

Tennessee carries a 3-4 record and a three-game losing streak into today's game at Notre Dame. Rather than feeling depressed, Douglas says the Vols feel determined.

"I think it'll be good for us to get back on the field," he said. "But the main thing is, we've got to get a win in the worst kind of way. Whatever it takes, we've got to get it."

Discounting a one-yard drive following an interception return against Georgia, Tennessee has produced just two offensive touchdowns in the past three games. Notre Dame's defense is soft, however, so there's a possibility the Vol attack could have a productive outing this weekend.

"With how we're playing this year, I'm not ready to make any predictions," Douglas said somberly. "We've just got to go out, play hard and execute. If we can do that I think we'll be in real good shape. To say we have an opportunity to do this and do that, it wouldn't be fair to say that."

Tennessee's offensive players certainly should have incentive today. The past week has seen them absorb considerable criticism from fans and lose their offensive coordinator. Randy Sanders resigned on Monday, frustrated by the lack of progress on offense. Further incentive should come from the fact Notre Dame averages 37.9 points per game. Obviously, Tennessee will have to dent the end zone a few times just to keep the game competitive.

"We've definitely got to help our defense," Douglas said. "As well as they've been playing this year, we've got to give them some help somewhere along the road, and this week would be a good week to start."

Much of Tennessee's offensive futility is related to its inability to finish drives once it reaches the "red zone" – the opponent's 20-yard line. Douglas is as perplexed by this failure as everyone else.

"Man, I cannot explain it," he said. "Usually, we've been pretty good in the red zone. It's really weird this year that we've been very poor in the red zone. We play well outside the 20. Once we get in that red zone, we haven't been capitalizing, and it's a shame."

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