KNOXVILLE -- With temperatures Sunday afternoon on the Neyland Stadium field soaring above 90-plus degrees, first-year University of Tennessee football coach Lane Kiffin and his Volunteers fielded media day questions for nearly three hours.
The players, wearing full pads, could hardly contain their excitement for a season that's still three weeks away. The Vols will open the Kiffin era with a Sept. 5 home game against Western Kentucky.
"Man, this isn't even fair," said junior fullback Kevin Cooper, a Baylor School graduate. "I wish gameday would just get here. We're ready to go."
Mr. Kiffin disagreed with part of that statement, though. He said the Vols have "a long, long way to go" before they can start erasing last season's disappointing 5-7 campaign.
"Our guys are working really hard, and their effort has been great, but we're not where we need to be," Mr. Kiffin said. "We're not even close. We've got to maximize every second the next few weeks to be the kind of team we want to be."
UT's second week of preseason camp starts this morning, with two practices scheduled for today, Wednesday and Friday, and one workout scheduled for Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. Most national analysts have avoided optimism for this season's Vols, predicting anywhere from mediocrity to worse.
"I don't think anybody on this team expects that to happen," senior offensive lineman Josh McNeil said. "If you think that, you shouldn't be out here."