UT has 'chip on its shoulder'

The 2006 Tennessee football team has at least one thing in common with the Volunteers' 1998 national championship team ... an angry disposition. Like the '98 squad, the '06 Vols are lightly regarded in preseason, although for a different reason.

The '98 Vols were given little chance to thrive because they had to overcome the loss of star players such as Peyton Manning, Marcus Nash, Trey Teague, Leonard Little, Jonathan Brown and Terry Fair. The '06 Vols are given little chance to thrive because they must overcome the hangover from last year's 5-6 disappointment.

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."

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