The uncertainty of this season is now over: what was whispered about and talked about all summer has come to the forefront. The Vols are indeed that 1-2 team of our worst case scenario dreams. No more, it is reality and the sad truth is things are possibly going to get a whole lot worse before they get better for Tennessee football. Consider that five of the remaining SEC teams are all ranked ahead of the Vols. Four in the top 25 and Arkansas knocking on the door to get inside the top 25 at number 26. Two of the teams that already have exposed the Vols as imposters when they resided in the top 25 are now comfortably inside the top 10. Wow!

So where do the Vols go from here? Remember that no team is as good as it looks when it wins big and conversely no team is as bad as it looks when it gets beaten badly. Tell that to the Tennessee coaching staff that saw speed and mistakes take them out of another football game in Florida this past weekend. The good news is that Arkansas State is coming to town and will pay the price, at least temporarily, for this team to feel good about itself again. They should be back to .500 come Saturday night but then what? With too many holes in a revamped secondary and linemen on both sides of the ball that are struggling, not to mention the lack of tackling and a consistent running attack, where does this team go after Arkansas State?

I know that other Vol teams have rallied after losing big to Florida and salvaged the season. Folks, no one wants to see that happen more than I do but the hard reality is that unless things reverse and quickly, this is going to be a season that will resemble more of the season two years ago than the one last year. The Vols have a tough road to traverse this year on their way to respectability; 2007 and the competition is quite different from when the Vols were a dominant team in the 90s; that road back was easier than it is now. Consider that Kentucky, a team the Vols could pencil in a win against most years, just upset a top 10 team in Louisville this past weekend. Then there is Mississippi State that has struggled lately going into Auburn and pulling an upset. The Vols will play both Kentucky and Mississippi State on the road this year and contend with top 25 caliber teams to complete their SEC schedule except for Vanderbilt.

By the way Jim Butler, don't get your hopes up; the Vols will win that game.

The above should be enough to scare the orange right out of the hardiest of fans. But take heart in the fact that this team does have talent. Their problems have been inexperience and mistakes. They need to work those out and get back to playing Tennessee football and fast. This season is not totally lost yet and until they give up, We Big Orange supporters should not either. If anything, they need your support now more than ever. This team can climb back into the mix but it is going to take determination from the coaches, players and the fans to turn this around. The road to respectability is unfortunately a very steep hill to climb in 2007.

So, "one game at a time" should be the catch phrase for the rest of the season. There is nothing that can be done about this bad start, but there is plenty that can be done going forward into the rest of the season. I just hope that the road isn't too difficult for those that have to travel it. In the meantime, the road back to respectability starts this Saturday with the Indians from Arkansas State. If you ever wanted to see a Vol game and couldn't find a ticket, I have a feeling this is your lucky weekend. So warm up those voices and get ready to serenade those renegades from Arkansas State with your best version of "Rocky Top." Go Vols.

Frank Gale is a Chroincle correspondent and his column appears regularly during football and basketball season.

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