Each year has two parts …

Marvin West

One of the wise men, a Tennessee fan, said that each year has only two parts: Football season and waiting for football season.

This is one of the waiting periods. It is a beautiful time of year. Everybody is undefeated. All things are possible. Big dreams are permitted. The UT ticket department advocates far-out optimism.

Wouldn’t it be something if Shy Tuttle could get well.

Charlton Warren, new coach of the secondary, might teach defensive backs to look back for the football.

Everybody has a chance to guess right on who will win the quarterback competition and how long it might take to win the Heisman.

Now is a relatively safe time to make grandiose predictions and even a few boisterous bets. Most will forget what you said before we hear again from the Music City bowl.

Fans are eager for spring practice. Players are heavily engaged in preparations for a bold, new experience.

They don’t have a fancy theme but they’ve been told to be ready.

There are coaches who think teams win games in off-season workouts. I thought the Vols may have lost a couple in March 2016.

Butch wanted players to lead his team. He listened closely to veteran views. Could be he reduced the workload. Maybe he sheltered some. They probably didn’t need to be knocking each other around. The coach knew they would hit when the time came. But, they needed to be stronger and quicker, physically and mentally.

Alas, when it was finally real football time in Tennessee, I didn’t think the Vols were completely, totally, 100 percent really ready.

All I have to go on is how many comebacks were needed to win the first five games.

There is powerful improvement tonic in memories of last year. A professional journalist wrote this:

“Stumbling, bumbling Tennessee, misidentified as the No. 9 team in the country, emerged with an embarrassing 20-13 victory over 20-point underdog Appalachian State. The visitors won everything except the final score. They dominated both lines of scrimmage.”

A few days later the summation was:

“Virginia Tech won the first quarter in a romp. After that, it made many mistakes.

“The orange team rallied from a 14-0 deficit and won the rest of the game. The losers gained more yards. Joshua Dobbs passed for three touchdowns and ran for two more.

“We woke up a little bit and played Tennessee football,” coach Butch Jones said.

Perhaps you recall that the Vols had a hard time with Ohio U. It was 21-19 after three quarters. The orange team was favored by 27. Butch said he thought the Vols were sloppy.

Then came the Florida game: Down 21-0 late in the first half, the Vols scored 38 unanswered points. Glory be!

I won’t go into how Tennessee defeated Georgia but I will say there was a last-gasp comeback.

It is very exciting to realize that a new season is developing behind the scenes – new coaches all around, new offensive coordinator, several new ideas, more seniors than in past years but more competition for positions.

It will be months before we know for sure, but strength coach Rock Gullickson might be the winning edge. He might be the match that lights the fire. His program could reduce injuries. We can dream big dreams.

Marvin West invites reader reaction.
His address is westwest6@netzero.com

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