Tennessee's players have seen the preseason polls and the preseason All-SEC lists. They realize they're no longer considered elite athletes in an elite program. And they are not happy campers.
"I think this whole team has a chip on its shoulder," senior receiver Jayson Swain said. "Just to be honest and put it out on the table: This whole team has a chip on its shoulder, and that's how we work. There's a different demeanor about how we carry ourselves, a different look we give each other. You can tell. Every day we work as if we've got a chip on our shoulder."
The biggest chip belongs to the receiver corps. Once known as Wide Receiver U, Tennessee did not have a single wideout make first-, second- or third-team all-conference in preseason surveys. Receivers coach Trooper Taylor reminds his troops of this on a regular basis.
"Yeah, he said it's a slap in the face that none of us is on the preseason list or being talked about," Swain said. "We take that with us to work every day. We've got a chip on our shoulder. Let it be known. Every day we work for a purpose. Tennessee is Wide Receiver U and receivers at Tennessee DO make plays. That's what we're going back to."