Tennessee Stat Book
Tennessee has occasionally made it challenging to pick up yardage on the ground all on its own.
Derek Dooley isn't expecting Buffalo to lessen the degree of difficulty any for the Vols.
The UT coach has continually stressed the need for improvements across the board for a team looking to step up its production in the running game, and at the same time this week he's made sure to stress that the Bulls won't just let that happen without a fight as Dooley evaluates the defensive talent coming to Neyland Stadium on Saturday (TV: CSS, 12:30 p.m.).
"We're going to have our work cut out this week," Dooley said after practice on Wednesday. "These guys are very good against the run, they're very physical up front, they have an elite player on the edge (in linebacker Khalil Mack) — elite player on the edge who is going to be a high-round draft pick.
"We're going to have our work cut out for us, it's going to be a good challenge."
Buffalo (1-3, 0-1 MAC) hasn't consistently provided that early in the season, though it is coming off its best outing against Connecticut in which it gave up just 80 yards on 42 carries.
Even with that performance, the Bulls rank just eighth in their conference in rushing defense and were gashed for 231 yards in a season-opening loss to Pittsburgh, which means there might be some opportunities for a UT (2-1, 0-1 SEC) ground attack that currently ranks No. 112 in the country to make some headway.
"Really nothing schematically (has changed)," offensive coordinator Jim Chaney said. "Our whole mindset ... is we need to be more physical running the football.
"We need to run the ball better. It's that simple. We're in the day and age to try to dissect everything. At the end of the day, we need to line up, snap the ball, block the man in front of us and run the ball better reading our keys. That's what we've got to do."
Bumps And Bruises: The injury report appears unchanged for a relatively healthy UT roster coming off the open date.
Sophomore Raiques Crump, second on the team with four special teams tackles, has limited during the early portion of practice on Wednesday morning but hasn't been publicly identified as an injury concern for this weekend.
Linebacker Herman Lathers (ankle) and receiver Naz Oliver (wrist) both continue to be out as they rehab from surgeries.
Lathers has resumed jogging and is on pace to return to practice at some point in the next couple weeks.
Snooze Button: The afternoon will be free with Fall Break starting today, so the Vols aren't going to be in such a hurry to get things started in the morning.
Dooley didn't indicated exactly when UT's last practice of the week would begin, but it won't be quite as early as normal with his roster not needing to worry about classes on the schedule when the workout ends.
"Fall Break, so we've got to manage that the right way," Dooley said. "We're going to push practice back a couple hours, get them to sleep a little bit and take advantage of it.
"We've had a good week, I feel like our spirit is back, our energy is back and I think these guys are ready to play. We've just got to go out there and do it."