With two forgettable Saturdays in the books, the Vols' focus now shifts to a lesser-known opponent than the two they faced in the previous weeks.
Even though South Alabama may not carry the same name value as Oregon or Florida, the Vols are not overlooking their Sun Belt Conference foe.
"My philosophy is every game is a must-win," head coach Butch Jones said Tuesday after practice. "In college football right now there is still no playoff. So every game is critical and one bad day can take you away from all your dreams, goals and aspirations. I approach every week like it is a must-win. There is no difference in our preparation from last week or any other weeks."
Following a quarterbacking debacle in last week's 31-17 loss to Florida, one candidate for the starting job, Nathan Peterman, underwent hand surgery which means junior signal caller Justin Worley will once again start under center as he did in the first three games of the season.
While Worley admitted after Saturday's game that he was hurt after not being named the starting quarterback against Florida, he has bounced back this week and stepped his game up in practice.
"He doesn't blink; he is a competitor," offensive coordinator Mike Bajakian said. "This program is built on handling adversity and he handles the adversity. As a competitor he is going to step up to the challenge."
The Worley-led Volunteer offense will be matched up against a Jaguar defense that has received mass heapings of praise from Jones and the offensive coaches for the amount of pressure they put on the opposing backfield.
The Jaguars come into Neyland Stadium having racked up eight sacks, eight quarterback hurries and 18 tackles for loss in their three contests this season.
"They are very aggressive," Bajakian said. "They pressure more than 50 percent of the time. They are going to bring it from every direction and they like to dictate. I don't want to say the tempo of the game, but they like to dictate their mentality, which is an aggressive, physical mentality."
While quarterbacks — and the offense in general — have been the talk of the town in Knoxville this week, defensively the Vols have a tough task ahead trying to contain the two-headed quarterback assault of South Alabama.
Ross Metheny, who transferred from the University of Virginia, and Brandon Bridge, an Alcorn State transfer, have played excellent in their first year on campus in Mobile, Ala.
Metheny has completed 42 of his 62 attempts this season – 67.7 percent – to go along with 595 yards and four touchdowns. Those numbers amount to a glistening 163.2 passer efficiency, which ranks 22nd among Divison I quarterbacks.
Meanwhile, Bridge has done most of his damage with his legs, recording 120 yards on 24 attempts – good for 6.7 yards per carry– and ranks second on the team in rushing.
"It is really difficult to prepare for them because of the different elements each quarterback brings to the table," Jones said. "They do a tremendous job in the scramble drill, a lot of their big plays have occurred off of scrambles and third-and-long situations."
Even after two demoralizing losses, senior linebacker Brent Brewer stressed that this team is still pushing forward and learning from their failures.
"We don't quit; we don't give up," Brewer said. "We're a hard-nose team and we're going to come after you and keep grinding ... We're going to just keep building on that and Saturday we'll be ready for the game."
Kick off is scheduled for 12:21 p.m. and the game will be televised on SEC TV.