The Missouri Tigers will look to rebound this weekend in Knoxville following their 14-7 loss to the No. 6 Florida Gators on Saturday.
Missouri's defense has only allowed 22.6 points per game, ranking 38th in the nation, but head coach Gary Pinkel understands they are going to be challenged against Tennessee's 24th ranked offense.
"They're running the I-formation around pro sets. They spread out, they do multiple things," said Pinkel. "They've got a great offensive line, good running backs, they pull in the receivers and tailbacks sometimes. They do a lot of different things. (Tyler Bray) is very impressive (at) throwing. He's got great accuracy, he can extend the play, he can get rid of the ball. He's a very impressive player. It'll be different because they actually get the ball downfield. They put a lot of yards and a lot of points down against a lot of people. We've been playing a pretty good defense, but it's going to be a challenge from a different type of offense."
While containing Tennessee's offense will be important, junior quarterback James Franklin must play better this week than he did against Florida, where he recorded four interceptions, but he knows his teammates have his back going into the weekend.
"They told me just try not to worry about it and prepare for this week, (because) they will need me to step up and keep being a leader," Franklin said. "So they just gave me some encouragement, told me not to hold onto it."
Missouri's first year in the SEC hasn't gone as well as they would've hoped, but junior defensive back E.J. Gaines is pumped up to play against Tennessee this week because of the way they play.
"I just get excited for it. It kind of takes me back to the Big 12 a little bit, as far as them passing the ball and we haven't really gotten that so far being in the SEC. It just kind of takes us back to the Oklahoma, Oklahoma State days and stuff like that, so it's going to be fun."
The offensive end for Missouri has been plagued by injuries this year and offensive lineman Justin Britt added his name to that list when he tore his ACL against Florida. Other than Britt, Pinkel says that they got out of Florida relatively healthy.
"Fortunately, we've been very healthy on the defensive side of the ball." Pinkel said. "The only change has been Justin Britt will be out for the remainder of the season. He'll have surgery a week from this Friday. It'll be ACL surgery and maybe more, we'll see what happens. We've moved Mitch Morse out to tackle and we'll move Brad McNulty to center. Ultimately, we came out very healthy from this game, except for that one injury."
Both teams will come into Saturday with their records sitting at 4-5, so a win will put either team at .500 on the season. Kickoff is at 12:21 p.m.