The defense has been the focal point of the Volunteers' preparation this week for the Troy Trojans.
Over the past four weeks Tennessee has given up 453.5 yards per game and 33.9 points. Defensive coordinator Sal Sunseri is determined to right the ship.
"We have to hold down the points; that is number one," Derek Dooley said. "We have to play better on defense and not give up the plays and points."
In those four games, the Vols have also given up 30 plays of over twenty yards.
"We are giving up too many dang explosives, and when you (give) up explosives, it is costing you," said Sunseri.
Troy comes in averaging 459.6 yards of offense a game and will present a challenge for the struggling defense.
"I see a team that comes out and is very multiple, they are delivering the ball to all four wide receivers," Sunseri said. "They will go to empty, they will go into a two-back set, they will run the option and they have two different style quarterbacks."
Sunseri also hinted that freshman Daniel Gray and senior Rod Wilks could see extended playing time as the season progresses based on their play.
"With these younger guys we are going to look at everybody to see who is going to give us an opportunity to have speed on the field and make some plays," Sunseri said.
As for the Tennessee offense, they are focused on being able to finish drives and turn them into points as frequently as possible.
"It is all about execution and discipline," said offensive coordinator Jim Chaney. "We are getting better at that, but we are not ready to go out there and score on every possession."
The Tennessee offense is still hoping for the return of Rajion Neal, who is getting stronger each day.
"Every day it seems like there are 10 more plays that he is out there for," Chaney said. "He appears to be closer than he has been, for obvious reasons, it takes time to heal things, and I am hoping that his mindset is getting closer to playing."
To help Neal on his return to the field, the Volunteers will lean on their strong offensive line, who has only allowed four sacks on the season and is helping the team rush for 158.8 yards per game.
"If you have a run game and you feel comfortable dialing up a run, it sure opens up a lot more things," said Chaney. "I think it gives your offensive line more confidence to go out and play better."