"These are great times in college football - new faces and new opportunities. This team has been very responsive in the off-season, in spring practice and then this summer. I credit much of it to the seniors and to the election of good captains.
"Many new players will have a chance to contribute. The influx of junior college players has added to our maturity, as has the addition of Kelley Washington.
"A football program starts up front, and I think we should be considerably better there. On the offensive line, Fred Weary is healthy, and others are a year older. Reggie Coleman has been through a lot of battles. It hurt to lose Michael Munoz, but we've had time to make the adjustment.
"The defensive front could be as good as any I've had in 10 years as head coach. Of course, there's John Henderson, and you can mention Will Overstreet in the same breath. Others like Albert Haynesworth and Rashad Moore must come through. There is a concern at the end opposite Overstreet because of lack of experience among Bernard Jackson, Omari Hand and Constantin Ritzmann.
"We need playmakers in the receivers corps and in the secondary, people who can be difference-makers.
"Will Bartholomew is an unbelievable competitor at fullback. I said at the SEC meeting the league should have a special award for those kind of qualities, and not just the Jacobs Trophy.
"It's always been a concern of ours about the heat in early practices. We take every preventive step we can think of. We emphasize that the players need to communicate with us about how they are feeling.
"It's a tradition at Tennessee to open with a tough game such as Syracuse is this year. We need to be ready from the start. We don't have the luxury of being able to look past anybody.
"A year ago our situation was much more unsettled than it is now. We have our share of problems, but again I point out that we should be strong up front. Also, our skill players know how to handle themselves.
"Last year with Casey Clausen, it was a thrill a minute. He threw for a decent percentage, but there was a little bit of smoke and mirrors involved. He and our receivers had a really good summer. Casey needs to stay focused with maturity and toughness. If he does, he can be a great player.
"Travis Stephens is a very good player who can perhaps be great. We'll see. He's tough and intelligent, a team man who can give us the big play. He'll need help from the freshmen or one of the other guys.
"Henderson is a great story. With his background, it would have been easy for him to take the money and turn pro. For him to stay shows great character on his part and the influence of his mother. He needs another year to be ready for the pros. It's a great statement about our program and our coaches that he came back.
"Dustin Colquitt, most likely, will be our punter.
"As to chemistry, it started in January, eating together, spending social time, working in the weight room. We teach unselfishness and teamwork. That's what our program is built on.
"We'll make a more conscious effort to throw to the tight end because we have people this season who can run good pass routes, Jason Witten and John Finlayson. Some tight ends can't catch a cold, but Jason and John can do better.
"At quarterback, we have problems with Joey Mathews' back right now. If necessary, we could bring Kelley Washington into the mix.
"Syracuse starting early is a wash: We get to see what they look like, but they have an opportunity to work out any problems they have.
"Will Overstreet is one of the most phenomenal players insofar as making the most of his ability I have seen particularly in respect to speed, quickness, toughness and aggressiveness. He has what coaches call a good motor. Take away his injuries, and last year he might have had as many tackles as Henderson."