After a 2011 campaign that saw them fail to reach a bowl game, the Tennessee Volunteers look to start over as they take on the N.C. State Wolfpack Friday night in the Chick-Fil-A Kickoff Game.
The Kentucky Wildcats were all that stood in the way between the Volunteers and bowl eligibility last season, but the Wildcats snapped their 26-game losing streak against the Vols as they beat Tennessee 10-7.
In an interview with Evan Woodbery of GoVolsXtra.com, Tennessee defensive tackle Daniel Hood know that a win Friday night at the Georgia Dome would be a good start to remove the stigma of being the team that lost to Kentucky,
"None of us wanted to be the team that was remembered for losing to Kentucky. That's our identity right now, so we've got to go out and change it."
But as they get ready for the 2012 season, Tennessee head coach Derek Dooley knows that there are a lot of players they are relying on that haven't produced consistently foor the Volunteers,
"There's confidence in the guys who have produced that they're going to go out there and perform the way we expect them to. There is high concern for the guys who haven't been out there and produced, and there are a lot of those guys, too."
There are big question marks at the skill positions, with Rajion Neal leading a group of running backs who have no experience as a feature back in college. Also, All-SEC wide receiver Da'Rick Rogers trasferred over the offseason after being suspended for repeated drug tests. JUCO wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson will have to step in and try to replace Rogers' production on the outside.
But even with the unkowns, Dooley knows that they have to find out how they react when the game starts.
"We are going to have to go see what we look like. Whatever we look like, we'll correct it and adjust moving forward."
For more on the Tennessee Volunteers, check out Rocky Top Talk. N.C. State fans should visit Backing the Pack. For the latest on all things SEC, head over to Team Speed Kills and join the discussion.