Vols players confident for 2011 season
When the Tennessee football players came to Birmingham for SEC Media Days, there were many different questions thrown their way.
Even though many fans seem opitmistic, all three of the Vols players apparently have no lack of confidence for the upcoming season.
All-SEC defensive tackle Malik Jackson seemed to be quite honest on his thoughts on how he thought about the defensive line.
"The three best defensive lineman are me... me... and me..." The transfer from USC might be telling the truth, to some extent. While the Vols do have some young talent on the d-line injuries and inexperience have held them back thus far. However, Jackson is confident about the 2011 season despite the lack of depth on the defensive side of the ball--especially in the front seven.
"I'm very confident. This is our second year with our head coach Derek Dooley. We all know what to expect from Coach Dooley, we all know what he wants. I think we're going to be real good this year. The schemes that Coach Wilcox makes are going to be real good for us. Everybody's just ready to get the ball rolling and play some football games", said Jackson.
The expectations for the team might not be the same as they are for Jackson himself. Being named to many of the top award watch lists, Jackson was also named to the pre-season All-SEC by the coaches.
Coming off a good season on the line, many would hope that he would excell even more as an end, but with the lack of depth I don't see that as a possibility. However, Jackson told everyone that he is now up to 275 pounds and would like to be up to 280 before camp starts.
Along with the high expectations, Jackson described the role-reversal from being the new guy to being a senior leader as "weird". To go along with that, Jackson was asked if he had any goals for the season. He responded with all he wants to do is get better and continue to work hard in the weight room.
While Jackson may be a senior, everyone knows that there is still a lot of youth on the team.
"It makes it really tough because a lot of the young guys don't know what to expect so we've got to get them going and get them in place. They're learning as fast as they can. They (seniors) and older guys are trying to teach them. Until they get to the first game they probably won't know how hard it it. But they're coming along well", said Jackson.
Jackson also said of the guys Coach Dooley recruited defensively, they will help out the defense a lot this year. My guess to that will be Maurice Couch, Byron Moore, and Izaue Lanier.
On the offensive side of the ball, senior running back Tauren Poole also has some confidence for the 2011 season.
"I'm definitely confident in thse guys, We've got some experience back. We're still young, but that should be no excuse for how good you can be. When your talented, your're talented. This is a hard league to play in and we've definately got to professionals as Coach Dooley reiterates every single day", said the senior running back.
Poole continued, "We've got to be prepared to win. Winning doesn't start in August, it starts in the summer. We try to install intangibles like Coach McKeefery is doing right now. We're definitely excited about what we're going to do. We've just got to prove it now. Talk is not going to get me anywhere; we've just got to prove it as a team."
Jackson and Poole represent a rather small Vols senior class. With so much youth on this team, the Vols could take some lumps in 2011, but with a little luck and hard work, the Vols confidence might just pay off in a big way this season.
Follow Cody McKee on Twitter @Clmckee86