Tradition, central to Tennessee football, is being reset this week as UT drops their conventional orange uniforms for a new look.
Speculation on Tennessee's new alternate uniforms ended earlier this week when the football program announced the Vols will be wearing their new "smokey" gray jerseys Saturday afternoon when they take on the No. 6 Georgia Bulldogs at 3:30 p.m. inside Neyland Stadium.
"I think it was time," head coach Butch Jones said. "I think it is something that our fan base has been waiting for. I know our players have been looking forward to wearing them.
"First of all, it is an opportunity, national television, CBS, 3:30, against a great opponent in Georgia. Obviously recruiting, players look forward to seeing the different uniforms."
Tennessee players wore their new "smokey" gray socks and cleats on the practice field Tuesday afternoon.
"It's something cool, it's something fun," senior offensive lineman Ja'Wuan James said. "It's just something of an incentive to play as hard as you can."
However, the Vols know it's going to take more than new uniforms to come away with a win on Saturday against a Bulldogs squad coming off a 44-41 victory over then-No. 6 LSU.
"You just use them for extra juice; you use them to motivate guys," James said. "It's all about how we play, it's not about what we wear."
Jones added Monday at his press conference: "That makes no impact in the outcome of the game. We have to play the game, the game is won between the lines. We just thought the timing was appropriate."
Tennessee's Marlin Lane left the game early in Saturday's win over South Alabama, and Jones has listed the junior tailback as day-to-day for Saturday's contest Georgia.
Suffering from an unspecified injury from the game, Jones remains careful about his player.
"Marlin did not practice today," Jones said Tuesday. "We'll know a little more tomorrow as he progresses, and it's going to be day to day. He spent all day in the training room, he was out at practice taking the mental reps that he'll need, hee was on the bike, so it will be how he progresses throughout the course of tonight and into tomorrow."
With Lane's availability in doubt, the Vols know that they will need other running backs, such as sophomore Tom Smith to step in and provide solid carries.
"Tom has really grown," senior running back Raijon Neal said. "He's learning more and accepting coaching, so it's good to see him grow from when he came in as a freshman."
Neal also knows that he will need to step his game up on Saturday if Lane is unable to play. The senior ran the ball 25 times for 169 yards against South Alabama with Lane sitting out most of the second half.
"My biggest thing is, I just want to show the guys that you can depend on me," Neal said Tuesday. "And at times we can put a load on my back."
No Lack of Faith
A few boos directed at UT quarterback Justin Worley in Neyland Stadium on Saturday have not affected the confidence that Jones and his team have in their signal caller.
"Worley is a great quarterback, we just have to help him out," freshman receiver Jason Croom said. "Anything he does is on us, I mean he is just throwing to a spot and we are expected to be there."
Jones remains careful with Worley, and acknowledged that the quarterback position comes with much responsibility.
"It's playing quarterback, I've always said that praise and blame, it's all the same," Jones said. "We have a very passionate fan base here and they want to win, and playing quarterback at the University of Tennessee comes with a very high standard of expectations and excellence behind it. That's part of being the quarterback here and you can't worry about that stuff."
Chemistry and trust between a quarterback and receiver is crucial to any passing game, and Worley and his receivers have worked hard to establish those aspects.
"Just doing little things off the field like watching film together or going out to eat, all that stuff adds up," Croom said. "Just gaining trust in your quarterback, that you're going to have his back just like he has yours."