The Irish defense has shown signs of brilliance at times this season, but at times has also looked mediocre in their performance. Senior linebacker, Derek Curry, says for Notre Dame to win this week, they'll have to play very well in Knoxville.
"We have to make plays. I watched last week's game against South Carolina and I saw a lot of opportunities for us to really do some good things," said Curry."We have to eliminate big plays and that is one thing South Carolina didn't do and that is something we are going to have to capitalize on. They let some big runs get to them. If they would have stopped that, it would have been a different ballgame."
Having the bye week seemed to be good for the veteran Curry.
"Definitely, having the opportunity was tremendous," he said. "We got healthy last week and we also did some good work too. We wouldn't have it any other way going into this week as we kind of got refreshed and got the old game out of our system.
"I got to watch some football games and it is funny how reenergized you get watching other teams play or watching other teams that your friends across the country play on. It's like, man, I should be out there right now."
Curry said he's been impressed what he's seen from the Vols offense.
"They're really explosive at times as I saw last weekend, and one thing they do is line up and play. It's not a difficult offense, but they do just say we have athletes and we're going to go play and you may know what we are going to do but we're going to do it anyway.
"So I do see a lot of tendencies and things they do over and over again. They are a good ball club and with the opportunities to make some really, really big plays."
The BC loss is just a bad memory now but for the Irish, but Curry admitted the loss hurt more than most.
"It took a little longer than normal because that was a game we really, really wanted; especially going into a bye week. It's good going into a bye week feeling good about your team, and feeling good about yourself, and going into a big game like this.
"But I think even with the loss, like the motivation behind that was different too as we still had a pretty good feel about our team. It was just about finishing the deal and that is something we really didn't do two weeks ago, and that's something we are going to have to do this week."
Sophomore quarterback Brady Quinn also enjoyed the bye week.
"I just went back and tried to enjoy some time with my family, but I took some game film with me," Quinn stated. "Just tried to relax at home and watch another game as it's always nice to get a different perspective of things and it kind of helps to get a bigger picture of how you look out there and everything; especially watching certain games and certain teams play."
Quinn said for the Irish to be successful against Tennessee, they'll have to have the entire offense working on Saturday.
"We got to have both the running and the passing game going for us. If either one of those things are taken away it is going to be a tough game; an uphill battle for us.
'We really just have to make plays to offset the 107,000, or whatever the stadium holds, you gotta take some momentum away and kinda make that atmosphere more favorable for yourself.
Quinn was asked what variables would go into an Irish win this weekend.
"There are all kinds of intangibles that go into it including turnovers and good decision-making as far as being consistent and me personally hitting everything out there, short passes, long passes. and everything."
The veteran signal caller expects the Vols defensive line to be a challenge.
"Watching them on film, they are extremely athletic and overall the defense has great team speed," he reported. "They are big up front and don't have to bring too much pressure just because their front four is so good."
The Ohio native has completed 132 of 246 passes this season with seven interceptions and ten touchdowns for a total of 1890 yards.
Quinn talked about his goals coming into this season, and the fact that he's not happy with his results towards those goals so far this season.
"You have to set your goals high and so far this season I'm pretty disappointed. This late in the season my numbers are not as high as I would like them to be as far as touchdown passes. And the interceptions should be lower, but I just keep working hard to get my efficiency up."
Irish fans around the world are wondering which Notre Dame team will show up this week against Tennessee. Irish Eyes will continue to talk with coaches and players for updates leading up to this important game.