Suppose you hadn't read a sentence or heard a word about this Tennessee football team. Suppose your only contact had come through watching the players file onto the practice field.
That alone would be enough to make Tennessee fans optimistic.
You know what all has gone wrong in the first two seasons under coach Derek Dooley. You can simply open your eyes and see what has gone right. After just two full years of recruiting, Dooley has assembled a bigger, stronger football team.
Not that size alone assures you of success. But it at least means the biggest, strongest teams on the schedule won't shove you around with regularity.
The sheer size of the team is an appropriate starting point for formulating preseason projections as to how the Vols might finish. The Vols are bigger almost everywhere.
The offensive line, which will average 6-foot-5, 317 pounds, will be even bigger than the 2009 bunch, arguably the biggest in school history.
Size might be more noticeable on defense, where Dooley's front seven averaged 249 pounds in 2010. Two years later, it will average well over 271 pounds when junior college transfer Daniel McCullers (6-6, 362) lines up alongside Darrington Sentimore and Maurice Couch .
The Vols also are bigger at wide receiver, having added All-American junior college transfer Cordarrelle Patterson (6-3, 205), whose presence will make the loss of suspended All-SEC wide receiver Da'Rick Rogers more bearable.
A receiving corps that also features tight end Mychal Rivera is only one of the reasons UT should have the best passing game in the SEC. The Vols ranked third in the conference in passing yardage per game last season despite losing quarterback Tyler Bray for half the season to a hand injury and losing Hunter for nine games to a knee injury.
Bray's throwing ability was obvious as a freshman. Now, he's more polished, experienced and sturdier. He could put up Peyton Manning-like numbers behind a veteran offensive line that, for all of its struggles in the running game last season, tied for second in the conference in fewest sacks allowed.
The running game remains a question mark after ranking 116th out of 120 FCS teams in rushing yards per game in 2011. But with UT's passing attack, the Vols won't have to run with the authority of Alabama or LSU. A 4-yard-per carry average would be a reasonable goal for a team that should throw first and run second.
The defense can't come close to matching the offense in playmakers. It does boast experience and depth.
Dooley hired Sal Sunseri as his defensive coordinator with the intent of promoting a more aggressive mind-set. As the Vols adjust to Sunseri's 3-4 scheme, UT fans can only hope they make more big plays than they give up.
No other team in the conference returns more starters than Tennessee. The schedule is more favorable than the last two. And you can't get through a player interview without hearing how this team is more united, committed and better led.
So what could go wrong?
Although the kicking and running games should be improved, they still have to prove themselves under game conditions. Bray has created just enough unfavorable off-the-field news to make you wonder if he can keep it between the lines for an entire season or go the way of Rogers. Also, you're talking about a program that has averaged almost six losses per season for the last seven years and almost seven losses per season the last four years. It's more accustomed to failure than success, which helps explain why the Vols repeatedly wilted in the face of adversity last season.
Something else to consider: What if the Vols pass the adversity test? Could they handle success as well?
If the Vols win September games against N.C. State and Florida, they will secure firm footing in the top 25. That could be heady stuff for a program that hasn't been ranked since the 2008 season opener.
Those are all reasonable concerns, but they shouldn't obscure the obvious pluses. The Vols are deeper, more experienced and talented than they have been in awhile. They also have no shortage of motivation after back-to-back losing seasons.
That might not add up to a championship. But it should return Tennessee to the top 25 and maybe the Outback Bowl as well.
Prediction: 9-3 overall, 5-3 in the SEC.