When UT Martin ran into Jordan-Hare Stadium to play Auburn in 2008, coach Jason Simpson had a script that he hoped would somehow get the Skyhawks into the second half.
"I'm not trying to make light,'' Simpson said Wednesday, three days before his Skyhawks run into Neyland Stadium, "but first you've got to make sure you don't get blown out early.
"You can't get run out of the stadium.''
So what happens?
Auburn returns the opening kickoff 95 yards for a touchdown. Strike up the band. War Eagle!
"That,'' Simpson admitted, looking back, "was certainly worrisome.''
But a funny thing happened. Auburn did not run the Skyhawks out of the stadium.
Midway through the third quarter former Maryville quarterback Cade Thompson fired a UT Martin touchdown pass that tied the game 20-20.
Auburn would win, 37-20. Quarterback Kodi Burns got loose on two long touchdown runs for the Tigers. UT Martin threatened three more times but twice gave the ball up on interceptions deep in Auburn territory.
So David got in some good licks but he did not slay Goliath after all. Tiger fans did not have to face the unthinkable.
Ironically, another David-Goliath contest was played that very November afternoon. In Neyland Stadium.
Wyoming 13, Tennessee 10.
Saturday, there will be 40 or so UT Martin players who remember they stared Auburn in the eye for three quarters. And there will be 40 or so UT Knoxville players who remember that victory can never be assumed against any opponent.
Because stuff happens in sports. Derek Dooley knows it and it worries the heck out of him.
He understands how motivated UT Martin will be. He understands how many first-time players he will be sending out in orange.
Turnovers and special-teams mistakes, now they really scare him. They're the devils that level the playing field and yank momentum from one sideline to the other.
"You turn on football and that's the first thing you see,'' Dooley said. "Guys coughing up balls. Big returns on special teams.''
Or, worse, a combination of the two. Cutting back to the Auburn game ...
After giving up the kickoff return, UT Martin regained its equilibrium by recovering a fumbled Auburn punt return in the end zone for a touchdown.
"Our guys see it's 7-7 and only three minutes left in the first quarter,'' Simpson said, "and now it's, 'let's play some football.' ''
That's probably what Wyoming was thinking after an interception on Tennessee's first possession that the Cowboys returned 55 yards to the 4 to set up a touchdown: It's 7-0, let's play some football.
Wyoming's only other score was an interception returned for a touchdown. Of course, there were extenuating circumstances. The Vols were emotionally flat at the end of a week that began with Phillip Fulmer's forced resignation.
On Saturday, being flat won't be an issue with either team.
The Skyhawks are playing in Neyland Stadium. Enough said. Four of their starters are local kids: Kenny Jones and DJ Roberts from Austin-East, Steve Shiver of Maryville and Ben Everett of Loudon.
"I won't have to say a whole lot,'' Simpson said. "Just open the locker room door and get out of the way.''
The Vols will be jacked to start the Derek Dooley Era on the right foot - and to prove they're better than the humdrum preseason forecast.
No, if anything, problems are more likely to arise from being too geeked.
Simpson will have a script to try and shorten the game, to make Tennessee work and execute for its points:
"And then it's kind of like 'Hoosiers,' where you get it to where you have to make a 3-point basket or a couple of free throws to win the game.''
Toward that goal he also has some thoughts about the opening kickoff.
"Hey,'' he said, "we may just kick it out of bounds, send our defense out there and get our feet on the ground.''
Dooley probably wouldn't mind if he did. He's not sure his team's feet will be on the ground either.
Mike Strange may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 865-342-6276.