1. A National Stage: Nobody outside of Tullahoma saw the the Vols throttle UT Martin on pay-per-view. With ESPN2 in the house, the Derek Dooley Era will get its first national viewing. Time to make a good impression, guys. (That goes for shower discipline, too.)
2. Convert: One disappointing stat from the opener was a 5-of-15 third-down-conversion rate. Matt Simms was actually 5-of-11 with the No. 1 offense, which isn’t bad, leaving Tyler Bray at 0-of-4. Still, Simms had a rough stretch in the first half , coming up short on five consecutive possessions. UT has to move the chains and keep Oregon’s offense off the field.
3. Time Warp: Traveling over three time zones is some serious jet lag. West Coast teams had lost five consecutive games in Neyland Stadium until UCLA won 19-15 last year. But the Bruins didn’t win because they played all that well. The Vols looked like they just flew in from Bora Bora.
4. Fresh Hands: Freshman receivers Da’Rick Rogers and Justin Hunter will be playing in their second college game. With Gerald Jones out, they’ll play a bigger role against a badder opponent. Can they get open against a talented, quick defense? Can they make a tough catch? Can they block an angry Duck? Offensive coordinator Jim Chaney says he’s confident enough to use them in any play-call.
5. Returns vs. Returns: Assuming Oregon punts — it didn’t last week against New Mexico — the Vols have to show improvement in the return game. UT has struggled for a good while to make anything positive happen on punt returns and there will be a new guy back there tonight. Oregon, you ask? Two 60-plus-yard returns for TDS last week.