Trickle-down confidence

First, America's financial experts discovered trickle-down economics. Now, Tennessee's football team is discovering trickle-down confidence.

Coming off a 5-7 season that cost their head coach his job, the Vols were seriously lacking in self-esteem earlier this year. But, after a few spring practices with their new coaches – a cocky bunch, for sure – the Vols find themselves feeding off the soaring confidence of their mentors.

"It definitely trickles down to us," rising senior quarterback Jonathan Crompton said. "The more confident they are, the more confident they make us – about the offense, about the defense, about the team. That's one thing that's very impressive."

Rising junior safety Eric Berry agreed that the more confident and energetic the coaches appear to be, the more confident and energetic the Vols become.

"Yeah, we feed off of it a lot," he said. "This group of coaches is amped up about football all the time. You really have no choice because you're going to hear them yelling 'Let's go! Get ready to play!' and this and that.

"You're either going to get tired of it and do nothing or you're going to get on the bandwagon and get excited about it, too. You have to choose to get excited. It's the trickle-down effect."

Tennessee's new staffers may or may not be great coaches but they clearly are great motivators. With the Big Orange coming off a disappointing season in 2008, the staff recognized the need to give the Vols' a shot of confidence and enthusiasm heading into 2009.

"That's exactly what it is," rising junior quarterback Nick Stephens said. "It was a very up-and-down season. It wasn't easy on anybody at all but I think it made us stronger. You never want to go through a season like that but, when you do, hopefully, you'll take the good out of it.

"That's what we've done. We've worked extremely hard this offseason and we're ready to go this spring."

A losing season is never a pleasant experience but Stephens believes the Vols learned some valuable lessons about themselves during the adversity of 2008.

"There wasn't a lot of good things you could take out of last year, obviously," he said. "But you look back and say, 'Did you quit?' We don't feel like we quit at any point.

"We can build on that."

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