High points: Monday presser

The Tennessee Volunteers now begin preparation to open SEC play in Gainesville this Saturday. Read as InsideTennessee.com brings you the all the latest in the week's "high points" for Monday's press conference.

Derek Dooley and the Tennessee Volunteers are undefeated through two games for the first time since 2006, but looming are the Florida Gators in Week 3.

Beating Florida in Gainesville — or anywhere for that matter — is starting to become a distant memory for not only Vol fans, but also players.

"We haven't won against these guys in a while," Dooley said. "I think 2003 there and 2004 here. They probably have the most talented defensive line in the country, two big playmakers on offense and I would say the best special teams in the league as far as generating plays."

Florida has dominated its first two opponents, winning by a combined score 80-3. That being said there isn't a whole lot that can be deducted from their first two games, especially with a whole new staff.

"We don't have a lot to go on because both games they just overwhelmed their opponents," Dooley said. "It is like watching a preseason game. I don't think they showed a lot and I think they are going to show a lot more against us. They have really been able to get two games under their belt and really not go deep into their playbook."

While the Vols haven't topped the Gators in six seasons, Dooley says that is not his young team's burden to carry.

"For the bulk of our team it is the first time they are starting against Florida and guess what, they have a lot of new guys too," Dooley said. "That doesn't matter unless you make it matter."

Saturday's game will mark the first time that 17 different Tennessee starters have marched out as the guy in a matchup against Florida.

"You can't be scared, you have to be prepared mentally and you can't be held hostage to anything that has happened in the past," Dooley said. "That's how we are going to approach it."

One player who will be critical to the Volunteers success will be sophomore quarterback Tyler Bray, who will be one of the Vols making his first start against Florida in his first trip to The Swamp.

Bray has started to show more leadership on the football field as his production has begun to increase.

"It starts with his play, and, if you are going to be a leader, being able to walk the walk a little bit is important," Dooley said when asked of Bray's leadership. "He is certainly played two very good football games, so that is the starting point. And I think secondly, what goes with that is, he has put a big investment in trying to be good.

"I think you see it on the practice field, you see it in the time he is spending outside of practice and so when you are putting a lot of investment and committing yourself to being good and you're playing good then certainly you have an ability to affect others in a positive way."

Bray has become a field general thus far in his second season totaling 51 completions on 65 attempts for 698 yards and seven touchdowns.

Two of those receptions have gone to freshman tight end Brendan Downs, who was somewhat overlooked with Mychal Rivera as the starter and the sheer size of freshman Cameron Clear.

"It is the benefit of mid-year … we talk about it a lot," said Dooley of Down's progression. "He was able to go through offseason program with us, he was able to go through 15 practices in the spring and then he goes through the summer program and all of training camp.

"Naturally, he is further along and it gives you that advantage and it has paid off for him. He has a good game and did a good job. He did good the first game too."

Downs has 32 yards receiving. Clear has yet to reel in a pass.

Confidence in the kicker

Michael Palardy missed a 43-yard field goal against Cincinnati, but his head coach still has the confidence that he can go win a game in the closing moments.

"I have 100-percent confidence in him," Dooley said. "That doesn't mean he is going to do it, but I don't bat an eye with Mike."

Palardy did drain a 37-yard attempt in Saturday's game and was 5 of 7 in his freshman season with a long of 39 yards.

Fugate topped at fullback

Channing Fugate opened the season as the Vols starting fullback, but was beaten out by Ben Bartholomew in practice leading up to Tennessee's game with Cincinnati.

Dooley said based on the film that Bartholomew will remain the starter heading to The Swamp.

The redshirt junior has collected two catches for 26 yards.

Blocking machine

Last season, Florida led the SEC with four blocked kicks (three punts, one field goal) for the fourth time in the past five years.

The head coach says it is nearly impossible to practice what the Vols will see on special teams out of the Gators.

"You can't simulate the speed and that's what gets you," Dooley said. "Usually you are a little bit lazy, you have a breakdown in the technique or a fundamental and their athleticism exposes you."

Running back Chris Rainey has proven to be extremely dangerous to opposing punters. Rainey's four career punt blocks tie the Florida record for blocked kicks in a career.

Injury notes

— Offensive tackle Dallas Thomas left Saturday's game and did not return. Dooley said Thomas has a slight knee sprain and he will be available this weekend.

— Returnman Devrin Young will need an X-ray before his status for practice this week will be known. If he is not available for Saturday's game he will definitely be ready next week.

— Defensive end Ben Martin suffered a sprained ankle and well be day-to-day during practice.

The Vols will continue preparation for Saturday's game Tuesday morning at Haslam Field at 9.

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