Alabama coach Nick Saban made headlines Thursday with a diatribe directed at media who dared to overlook a lowly opponent for his top-ranked team.
Tennessee coach Derek Dooley, an assistant under Saban for seven years, hammered home the same theme this week, albeit with a bit more delicacy.
Taking aim at players — not reporters — who felt too self-satisfied after Tennessee's opening victory, Dooley warned against a false sense of security enveloping the Vols (1-0) in their home opener against Georgia State (0-1) at Neyland Stadium today (TV: PPV, 4 p.m.).
"Most teams never reach their dreams because they overestimate the event and underestimate the process," Dooley said.
Today is likely to offer little in the way of an event. The Panthers, in the midst of a transition to the Bowl Subdivision, were thrashed by South Carolina State 33-6 on their home turf last Thursday. One day later, also at the Georgia Dome, the Vols opened their season with a victory against North Carolina State.
Tennessee has won 17 consecutive home openers, last losing in 1994, and today's game should have a healthy margin of victory. But Dooley wasn't satisfied with practice earlier this week. He told players to focus not on the 1-0 record, but how they got there.
"I want to see us begin to define a standard of how we compete every Saturday, regardless of the opponent," Dooley said. "You only do that by performing with consistency over time."
Of course, objections from Saban or Dooley notwithstanding, it's impossible for those outside the realm of the football complex not to look ahead to more tantalizing matchups to come. For Tennessee, that means the Sept. 15 game against Florida, when the Vols likely will be favorites to beat the Gators for the first time since 2004.
Until then, Tennessee will try to fix some of the imperfections from last week's satisfying but not entirely perfect opener.
First on offensive coordinator Jim Chaney's wish list is better blocking — and not just from the offensive line.
"We blocked them, but we didn't block like we would like to block," Chaney said. "That's been a point of emphasis all this week for us. We want to increase our fundamentals of blocks: our targets, our leverage, all the little things that come into being a successful blocking team. That's the one thing I left the game thinking I wish we could have done a little better."
Defensive coordinator Sal Sunseri said he wanted better communication and fewer missed assignments, both of which seemed to improve after a shaky first quarter in the Georgia Dome.
"That's what I'm looking for," Sunseri said.
Dooley said he's not worried about playing time for backups, but if this game goes as expected, there could be ample opportunities for players who didn't see many snaps in the opener.
The game could also help untangle some of the positional battles still unsettled. Running back Rajion Neal, who named the No. 1 starter coming out of camp, lost his job after an uninspired performance against N.C. State. He's now bracketed with Marlin Lane and Devrin Young as co-starter. All three backs should get an audition today.
Freshman receiver Jason Croom likely is to make his debut today after missing the opener with a hamstring injury. Only two freshmen played last week.
Georgia State, by contrast, is playing plenty of freshmen. The fledgling program is moving from its current place in the Colonial Athletic Association to the Sun Belt Conference, which competes in the FCS. Georgia State coach Bill Curry has announced that he will retire after this season.
Evan Woodbery covers Tennessee football. Follow him at www.Twitter.com/TennesseeBeat