Throughout my 19 years of life, I've been to maybe a dozen Tennessee football games. I know, not the most impressive number, but still.
I was in attendance this past season when Florida, Alabama and Missouri came to Knoxville. All three were exciting games, and even though we lost all three matchups, they are still going to be some of my fondest moments of my freshman year.
All that said, no Tennessee football game I have been to so far has matched what I saw for Saturday's Orange and White game.
It wasn't the first Orange and White game I had ever been to, and sure, it was just a scrimmage, but nonetheless, it was amazing.
It's very possible that it was so awesome because it was my first time to be able to sit inside the press box at Neyland, but let's put that aside.
There was something about this game that was different.
The atmosphere at previous home games was seemingly hopeful, but there was no excitement about the team.
But on Saturday, there was a buzz around this new team that head coach Butch Jones has built. And not only was there a buzz, but there was belief that the glory days of UT football were much closer than they were last season.
In fact, the glory days were as close as they could be. Five-hundred former Vols were on the sidelines. Recruits and commits were in attendance. The convergence of past and future was something to behold.
It may have been the second-largest attendance in Orange and White game history, but there is no doubt in my mind that it had to be the most impressive of all the previous 52 Orange and White games.
I realized the difference of the atmosphere all before the game even started. But when it did, it got even better.
Last year, the defense was frustrating. Actually, frustrating would be a major understatement. But Saturday, they came out to play. The tackling issues were fixed, the pass rush was all over Justin Worley and Nathan Peterman and the secondary looked aggressive attacking the ball in the air.
Other than Alden Hill, the offense was far from impressive, but considering the fact that every playmaker on the offense has left the team, that wasn't that big of a surprise.
Overall, this team already looks much better than the product that former head coach Derek Dooley placed on the field last year, and that's without most of the big name recruits who haven't even had a chance to put on the orange and white yet.
More important than the team's performance was the team's demeanor. I have never seen a Volunteer team play with so much confidence and show so much enthusiasm after big plays. Last year, winning or losing, the team never seemed that excited.
Once again, it was just a scrimmage and maybe I'm getting ahead of myself. But to me, Jacques Smith summed it up best in his postgame press conference.
"Coach Jones has just established an environment to where football is fun for us," Smith said. "It's no longer just a job or something you must do ... He's boosted our confidence and he's made it fun again, and you can definitely see it in the atmosphere from the fans."
— Troy Provost-Heron is a freshman in journalism and electronic media. He's mad adorable and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.