While news continues to circulate about the status of the head coaching job at UT, the gridiron gang has plenty of other important tasks to focus on this week.

This Saturday the Vols will face a tough road test in that of head coach James Franklin and his Vanderbilt Commodores.
The Commodores, who have been playing motivated football and winning their last three SEC games, would love to do nothing more than find revenge on a Tennessee team whose celebration of last season's overtime victory sunk under their skin.

However, they will be going up against a Vols squad that is determined to take their seniors to a bowl game. In order to do so they will first have to take out their in-state rival and defeat Kentucky.

"It would mean everything to send (the seniors) out with a bowl win," junior quarterback Tyler Bray said. "We sent the seniors out last year with a very bad taste in their mouth so we'd like to send these guys out with a little better taste. We just need to get the win versus Vanderbilt, then we will worry about everything after that."

Bray is currently on one of the hottest stretches of his career at UT. In the team's last three games he has thrown for 1,302 yards with 13 touchdowns and just one interception. The signal caller, who is considered one of the top NFL Draft prospects at his position, credits one thing in particular to his improvement.

"Just working on my footwork has helped me a lot," he said. "A lot of throws I've not made is because of my footwork. Coach (Jim) Chaney and Coach (Kyle) Manley have been riding me to get my footwork down and it's helped."

However, he doesn't believe this has been his best three game stretch, as he'd rather see the team win over anything else.

"I think if we went 3-0 it would have been better," he said.

While the offense has been very successful this season, ranking 20th in the nation in total scoring offense, the defense has been a letdown.

This past weekend in UT's 51-48 four overtime loss to Missouri, which was their first loss in extra time since losing to North Carolina in the Music City Bowl in 2010, the team put together a strong first half showing on the defensive side of the ball. In fact the only score the Tigers had was off a kickoff return.

Despite the defensive effort that allowed less than 100 yards to their opponent in the first half, the Vols' second half defense collapsed and once again allowed big plays that led to the Tigers' comeback victory.

With first year defensive coordinator Sal Sunseri remaining in the press box for the Vanderbilt game the Vols will try as many ways as possible to plug the holes in their defense, which has only held their opposition to under twenty points once this season.

They will have to work extra hard in practice this week in bringing continuity to their defense, especially when considering they have lost linebacker Curt Maggitt for the rest of the season.

"It hurts," senior linebacker Herman Lathers of Maggitt suffering a season ending ACL tear. "He is a good player, good defensive mind, therefore we have to have guys step up and play along when he's not there."

This weekend for some Vols will also have a special meaning to them, as seven players on the active roster played high school football in the Nashville area.
"It means a lot to me," senior receiver Zach Rogers said, who played high school football at Nashville's David Lipscomb. "I have a lot of family and friends coming to this one so I definitely want to do my best to make them proud of me. At the same time I'm fighting for this team and we're fighting for each other to get these last two wins."
Rogers was one of many that were recruited by Vanderbilt as well.
"I was recruited by Vandy and I live just 10 minutes away from their campus," he said. "It will be a good coming home for me."
Nonetheless, the Vols are fully focused in their preparation for Vanderbilt and don't want to let the team's seniors down.