Since opening the 2010 season with a 50-0 drubbing of Football Championship Subdivision member UT Martin, the Vols have lost four of five games. Their lone victory during that stretch came at the expense of UAB, which means Tennessee is winless (0-4) against teams from Bowl Championship Series leagues this fall.
With a bunch of negative momentum and a bunch of injured players needing rest and rehabilitation, the Vols should consider themselves lucky they aren't playing today. Most of them do.
"Yeah, definitely," senior linebacker Nick Reveiz said when asked if this is a good time for an open date. "The Georgia loss (41-14 last Saturday in Athens) kind of shook us up with some confidence. It hurt, obviously, because we thought we were going in the right direction and from that loss it looked like we went backwards.
"This is a good time to regroup as a team and as a unit, get better for a great Alabama team coming in next weekend."
Senior defensive end Gerald Williams believes the greatest benefit of the bye week is physical, noting: "It helps tremendously to get some injured guys healthy and get guys back in place."
Conversely, junior quarterback Matt Simms believes the Vols might benefit more mentally following back-to-back SEC losses at LSU and Georgia.
"Maybe if we'd won these past two games we wouldn't care if we had a bye week or not, but we didn't," he said. "We struggled (at Georgia) this past week. Now is a good time to re-evalute where you are and get better."
Despite the butt-whipping they suffered at Georgia last weekend, the Vols seem to be in good spirits.
"We're over the loss," Reveiz said. "It's one of those things where you can't mull over it and be sad over it. A lot of guys were getting after it (in practice this week), excited over playing. I felt we were pretty upbeat on the field."
Simms agreed, noting: "The mood is actually really good. Obviously, we lost in a fashion that we don't to get accustomed to (at Georgia) and with what happened (at LSU) two weeks ago, as well. But we've got a long season ahead of us, and we've got a great opponent ahead of us, too."
That would be defending national champ Alabama. The Crimson Tide will be heavily favored when it invades Neyland Stadium a week from today but Tennessee's players appear eager for the challenge.
"The mood is that there's still a long season ahead of us," Williams said. "We've got to dig in, go out and play every week. We're still keeping our heads up. Don't count us out for nothing."
Redshirt freshman cornerback Eric Gordon believes the lopsided loss at Georgia has made the Vols' resolve stronger, not weaker.
"I feel we're hungry," he said. "On a given day any team can come out flat and get beat. It's about what you do after that. That's what makes the team. I feel like we're coming out ready to practice hard and put that behind us."