After starting the season off strong against Austin Peay and Western Kentucky at home, the Vols now turn their attention to Eugene, Ore. and the No. 2 Oregon Ducks.
For the first road game in the Butch Jones era, the Vols find themselves as four-touchdown underdogs, and while the team and Jones understand how big the task at hand is, they are also looking forward to the opportunity.
"Obviously they're a great football team," Jones said. "It's a tremendous, tremendous challenge but it's also a great opportunity. We have to have a great week of preparation.
"You're on the road, you're in a hostile environment, and you're in a different environment that nobody's used to even being in. That's all part of that mental toughness, that mental conditioning. So, it's all going to be on display and a lot of our younger players are going to have to grow up in a hurry."
Through two games, Oregon is averaging 425 yards on the ground, which has translated into 125 combined points against Nicholls State and Virginia.
A more impressive fact of their offense is that 69.2 percent of their total offense has derived from two players – quarterback Marcus Mariota and running back De'Anthony Thomas – who have combined for 920 yards and 11 touchdowns in the Ducks two contests.
Oregon is known for its ability to make big plays that can break a defense's back, but Jones has focused in on getting his defense to have a "snap-and-clear mentality," if the Ducks do break a long score.
"Well, I think first of all it's a mindset," Jones said. "They're going to get their plays. They're going to make their big plays. That's a function of what they do. That's part of their offense. But it's not letting one big play equal two, equal three, equal four, and have a snowball effect and that's part of that mental conditioning. We have to force them and make them drive the football on us, and that's very challenging.
"You just have to look at their body of work this year, but not just this year, but over the last three, four, five years. So again, staying the course. It's focusing one snap at a time, just one snap at a time. That's going to be at a premium on Saturday."
Jones later pointed out the importance of tackling, a detail that defensive coordinator John Jancek has been stressing all week in practice.
"They've got a lot of speed that can break downs angles very quickly," Jancek said. "They're run game is extensive, they've got a lot of different things they can throw at you, so we have to be on point in a lot of different areas and so our focus has been on leveraging the football, obviously great pursuit and tackling in space."
Against a team that has the ability to score a ton of points, an inexperienced quarterback may have the mentality to come in and score a certain amount of points and end up forcing things in game, but junior signal caller Justin Worley said that he understands that they have to take it drive-by-drive.
"We can only control what we can control on the offensive side," Worley said. "We've just got to go out and maintain our focus and worry about what we can control and not get caught up in saying 'We need to score 50 this game.' It's 'We need to go out and score this drive.' That's it."
The Vols will kick off inside Autzen Stadium at 3:30 p.m. EST. The game will be televised on ABC.