Nov. 12, 2009
Tennessee resumes its November stretch drive Saturday attempting to capture its first win this season away from Neyland Stadium. The Vols also won't be facing the nation's No. 1-ranked team on the opposing sideline.
In September it was top-ranked Florida, which defeated UT 23-13. Last month, Alabama staved off a last-minute upset bid by the Vols to hang on to its No. 1 ranking with a 12-10 triumph.
This weekend's opponent, Mississippi, is 6-3 overall to Tennessee's 5-4. Both squads are 2-3 in the SEC, and a win Saturday would greatly enhance one team's bowl prospects while narrowing the options for the other.
"This is a very hard opponent to prepare for," head coach Lane Kiffin said Thursday from Haslam Field. "I think they are going to be ready to play.
"If you look at it, for the most part, they play really well in big games. It's a national TV game with a lot on the line for them and for us. I expect their best shot. We are going to have our hands full because they have some great players."
Ole Miss lost by six at South Carolina, by 19 to Alabama and by 13 at Auburn. The Rebels own wins at Vanderbilt by a 23-7 count and at home last month over Arkansas, 30-17.
"We needed to have a good practice today to prepare for a big-time game. I thought the guys came out and were very sharp, very focused. There was good intensity out here, but we still have a lot of work to do before the game."
-- The Vols have played 22 consecutive games on grass surfaces, dating to the 2007 SEC Championship Game at the Georgia Dome. That streak ends Saturday in Oxford, where Vaught-Hemingway Stadium is an AstroPlay artificial surface. In fact, since the Vols last played at Ole Miss five years ago, their only two games not played on grass were the SEC Championship Game appearances of 2004 and 2007.
-- Senior Dan Williams and redshirt freshman Aaron Douglas are Tennessee's two most recent CAREacter Star Athletes of the Week. Williams has been a force for the Vols along the defensive front and stands third on the team with 43 tackles. He leads the squad with nine quarterback hurries. Douglas, meanwhile, was named SEC Offensive Lineman of the Week on Monday after grading at 90 percent in the win over Memphis with no penalties and no sacks allowed.
Both players are among the team's most popular when it comes to community visits and have taken a strong interest in giving back to the Knoxville community.