The Vols scored just 28 points in four October games against Georgia, LSU, Alabama and South Carolina. But they have not surrendered on defense.
"They have young linebackers who can run and have size and length. They play a lot of guys. They believe in keeping them fresh. You see them ready to substitute even before the whistle blows and they come onto the field in a hurry."
The Vols present some obstables in coverage patterns the Hogs haven't seen much this season.
"They play match coverages, with man on one side and zone on the other. They play a trapped safety and they come at you from different angles. You have to make sure to break down the passing angles. They will present a challenge for us."
Offensive tackle Grant Freeman sees exactly what McGee mentioned when he watched the Tennessee front.
"When you watch some defensive linemen play, they go hard about half the time," he said. "These guys don't do that. They play hard and bring it every single play. They have guys who really play hard. You see that on every tape. They impress you with that."
Freeman and his offensive line mates have received praise from coaches after their performance in a 44-28 victory over South Carolina. Quarterback Tyler Wilson was sacked only once against a group of defensive ends advertised as perhaps the league's best.
"They did a good job," McGee said of the perimeter blocking. "They neutralized a very good set of ends and gave us an opportunity to get our passing game going. Our offensive line is playing better, but it should. We are in the fourth quarter of our season."
Wilson said it was a big key in the game.
"They kept me clean in this game," Wilson said. "South Carolina played back in cover three. When a defense does that, you need a little time for your receivers to run their stuff and then you can pick them apart. I had time to do that. Our offensive tackles really did a good job. They kept me up. Getting pressure is a big part of what that defense tries to do and we were able to take what they gave us with that kind of time."
Freeman said it's taken awhile to get things down.
"I think from the start of the year to this point, I know for me I've come 180 degrees," he said. "So that was nice to hear from the coaches after this week.
"They told us about Carolina's ends. We pretty much heard about them everywhere we turned. It was everywhere. So it was a good feeling to play like that. We knew that was the strength of their defense and we had to do our part."
As big as the Carolina victory was for the Hogs, Wilson knows things will be tough again this week.
"I've heard about Tennessee all my life," he said. "I was on the team as a redshirt freshman the last time we played them. I didn't make that trip, but I remember them. This is a big name SEC team and we know they will be talented."
McGee said the focus, energy and effort was good Tuesday when the Hogs worked inside Walker Pavilion with heavy rains rolling through Fayetteville.
"Our guys did a good job," he said. "We always have good energy when we go inside. I think it's because you can hear the pads pop and the quarterback's cadence. I think that helps, just the sound of football."
McGee said nothing changes from week to week in preparation.
"We do the same things each week," he said. "Number one, we try to put our players in the best possible position with a good plan. Then we teach the plan in meetings. Then we go on the field and work the plan and try to do it within our techniques and our scheme while learning what the other team is doing. Then we push them while we do that so it impacts conditioning.
"That's the same regardless of who we play."
There were questions for both McGee and Wilson concerning the tight race between wideouts Joe Adams and Jarius Wright to set the school record for all-time catches. Anthony Eubanks (153) and D. J. Williams (152) are in the top two spots with Adams (151) and Wright (150) ready to push past them.
"What I think about where they are really goes back to when we first got here four years ago and going into their homes in recruiting," McGee said. "And I remember the first time they stepped on the practice field and then all the things they have done."
Wilson was asked if he understood that he might be the deciding factor in who breaks the record first.
"I guess that makes it sound like I'm the dictator," he laughed. "I just try to get it to the open guy. I hope both of them go into the lead. I guess I'm going to be buying one of them dinner."
That wasn't the only record that worked into a question. Wilson was asked if Tennessee's 0-5 SEC mark was a reflection of who the Vols have played?
"That's the first thing we talked about in our team meetings -- that it didn't," Wilson said. "We know that record doesn't display the kind of team the are and we take them serious."