Tennessee football continues to push for their first conference win.

Their chance might just come on Saturday. Defensive coordinator Sal Sunseri said they're working on applying technique, straining and making plays.

"We are just going to keep on pushing and going and making these kids the best football players they can be," Sunseri said. "(We want to help them) learn how to compete play-in and play-out, learn how to strain their bodies, because that is what this comes down to."

Sunseri said stopping explosive plays and not giving up touchdowns is key for the defense.

"We have to stop that. We have to be a great defense and being a great defense is knowing what to do, how to do it and why you are doing it," Sunseri said. "I think they are getting a better understanding of that."

Three SEC losses in a row have served as a mental strain for the coaches and team. Sunseri said they're working on forgetting the disappointment.

"We are pushing them through it, and I thought they came out yesterday and did OK defensively," he said. "They did better today, and we are just going to keep on going."

Unfortunately for the team, Sunseri said they're in a conference with some of the best football coaches in college football. He added that he believes the Vols have the ability to compete with the best.

"There is nobody in this league that I've seen that doesn't have a chance, so we have to go out there and our familiarity with it is good," Sunseri said. "It has been helpful and we know what they like to do. We went down there two years ago into a hostile environment and weren't ready to play, so the most important thing that we have to do is be ready to play."

Offensive coordinator Jim Chaney said the upcoming game against No. 13 South Carolina (6-2, 4-2 SEC) will be tough on the Vols offense. He said the Gamecocks' front seven are dominant.

"They have game wreckers in the front. Their D-line plays extremely hard," Chaney said. "If you don't take care of them, you won't have a chance to do anything in the back half of their defense. They are exceptional. They play hard as heck.

"One thing that shows up, and I have said this before: I always look at the effort level of people and how they play football because as coaches we understand sometimes execution doesn't go the way we wanted. But the effort of their team is fantastic. They play their best."