(HOOVER, ALA.) — According to head coach Derek Dooley, Tennessee will be a lot more competitive in 2012.
In 2011, the team finished 5-7 and was 1-7 against the SEC and 1-4 against the teams in the Top 25.
“I feel better today about where we are as a program then any point since I’ve been in Knoxville,” said Dooley on Thursday. “I mean that. For the first time we have a settled roster.”
Dooley said he feels the Vols’ are ready to pull out of the dark times that date back to Phillip Fulmer’s last year at Tennessee in 2008 and Lane Kiffin’s tenure in 2009.
“It’s been a tough four years in Tennessee and I know the SEC has enjoyed taking advantage of our tough times,” he said. “There’s a nice mood on our team right now. You’re not going to have Tennessee to kick around anymore.”
One of those reasons that the Tennessee team is strenthening is because of quarterback Tyler Bray, who’s been starting since late in the 2010 season as a freshman. Dooley believes he is ready to step up and be the leader of the team.
“Being able to get my guys to play above and beyond,” said Bray. “Anytime I can get them to play better then the day before, it’s an improvement on my leadership.”
They’ll kick off the 2012 season against North Carolina State on Friday, August 31.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
John Newsome and Anne Woolsey, CNN