Vols still optimistic ... somehow

The record is 4-3 overall, 1-3 in SEC play. The team is riding a two-game losing streak that would be three if Arkansas hadn't missed a 37-yard field goal in triple overtime. <p> Yet, in the minds of some Tennessee football players, the Vols are essentially unbeaten.

''I don't think it's been the other team winning the games this year,'' offensive tackle Will Ofenheusle said. ''I think we've lost every one of them.''

Not only are the Vols are beating themselves; they're doing a slambang job of it.

''It's just a matter of us doing our job and doing it the right way,'' Ofenheusle said. ''So many times it's a missed block here or a guy missing a cut there. It's easy for a defense to defend you when you're not getting it done yourself. That's what we need to work on. We'll be fine if we do that.''

Ofenheusle, a senior captain, optimistically recalled that the Vols rallied from a sluggish 2-3 start in 2000 to win their final seven regular-season games. Asked what he learned from that season, he replied:

''I learned to go out there, have fun and play hard. We weren't very good but we won seven in a row at the end because we played hard and played with a lot of heart. I think we knew we had to play hard because we didn't have much talent.''

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