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Vols don't need any extra motivation

Posted by ESPN.com's Chris Low

As the Tennessee players filtered into the interview room Tuesday at Neyland Stadium for media day, they didn't need to be told about Florida linebacker Brandon Spikes' comments from earlier in the day.

The television sets were tuned to ESPN, and Spikes' comments about the Vols quitting in last season's 59-20 rout were flashed up on the screen.

"He's entitled to his own opinion," Tennessee linebacker Rico McCoy said. "It's a new year, a new ballgame. We're going to see what happens this Saturday. I have nothing to say about that. That's his opinion. We have a ballgame to play Saturday and we'll see then."

Sophomore receiver Gerald Jones said it's up to the Vols to earn their respect, especially with the way the Gators embarrassed them last season. Tim Tebow was still in the game late in the fourth quarter, and Florida was still throwing the ball.

And to be fair to Spikes, it certainly looked like the Vols melted into a mound of orange creamsicles that scorching afternoon in the Swamp a year ago.

"I don't think they respect us one bit," Jones said of the Gators. "A lot of people probably don't, but we are going to earn our respect come Saturday."

Some of the Vols' biggest wins this decade have come when they've been decided underdogs. Some examples: Florida in 2001, Miami in 2003, Georgia in 2004, LSU in 2005 and Georgia last season.

Even Tennessee coach Phillip Fulmer seems to revel in the underdog role.

"I don't think anybody in the nation is giving us a chance, maybe a couple of buddies and I think my wife. But I'm not sure about that one," Fulmer cracked.

The Vols are just 1-7 against Top 10 teams this decade in Neyland Stadium. That one win came in 2006 against California. The last time Tennessee beat a Top 10 SEC team at home was 1999, a 37-20 win over Georgia.