It’s game week.
For the die-hard Tennessee fans who counted each of the 246 days from last season’s Music City Bowl till the season opener against Montana on Saturday, that hard work will finally pay off this week.
“We have a lot of new guys. We have to teach them what it means to prepare,” head coach Derek Dooley said after Monday’s morning practice. “I equated it to every day depositing money in your bank account. Every day, the investment that you put in physically and the investment you put in mentally is a deposit. On game day, you withdraw it all. The more you deposit during the week, the more money you’re going to have on game day to play well. Today, we put a pretty good deposit in and we’ll see if we can keep going all week.”
For the few veterans, like senior tailback Tauren Poole, the week is still special.
“It felt a lot different, man,” Poole said. “Guys are happy to be out here. They’re smiling. They’re just happy it’s game week and that we’re playing a different opponent this week instead of ourselves each and every day. There’s excitement all around, from the students to the staff to us, just smiles all around.”
Senior middle linebacker Austin Johnson is just ready to get the week of practice over with.
“I’m extremely excited,” he said. “We’ve been waiting for this forever. It seems like it’s been a long time. We worked really hard in the off-season and now we’re ready to get this thing rolling.”
Depth chart released
UT released its official depth chart for the Montana game on Monday.
No surprises appeared among the starters, though senior Ben Martin is listed as the starter at one of the defensive end spots. Freshmen Curt Maggitt and A. J. Johnson will start at the two outside linebacker spots.
Junior Prentiss Waggner is listed as the starting free safety, having previously focused on cornerback until Janzen Jackson’s dismissal from the team last week.
Freshman Marlin Lane is second on the depth chart behind Tauren Poole at tailback. Poole, who started all 13 games last season, said seeing his name atop the depth chart is a sense of accomplishment, even though it wasn’t a surprise.
“It means all my hard work paid off in the summer,” Poole said. “I went in this summer saying it wasn’t my job, ’cause it wasn’t. It wasn’t safe. Coach (Dooley) opened up competition. It just goes to show I worked hard for it. I have to continue to work hard ’cause it could still change. He can put Marlin in front of me. He can put Rajion or Tom in front of me. If I don’t come out here and be the best I can be every single day, I will not have that position.”
Freshman to transfer
Dooley announced Monday freshman safety Pat Martin is looking to transfer from the program. Dooley said it was a “mutual decision.”
The 6-foot, 205-pound Martin was a highly rated recruit from Greenville, S.C.
Dooley, Vols excited for season to kick off
It’s game week.