Head coach Derek Dooley says it is far too early to identify who the Vols are at this point in the season and only time will tell.
"I don't think we know who we are yet. I think it is just too early to tell," Dooley said Wednesday morning. "We will find out in about two or three weeks — what is our team? We don't know what our team is right now. You just have to keep playing and see who we settle in to become."
This week the team will see the Buffalo Bulls march into Neyland Stadium, a team whose only win is over Stony Brook. Pardon any alumni, but who? Dooley's main focus this week will solely be on improvement.
"What we want to see is — how did you play the first three (games) and how are you going out and looking in Game 4 with an open date?" Dooley said. "Obviously, we want to see improvement. We aren't going to expect them to go out there and light it up, that is not going to happen, it takes time."
One would certainly think that Dooley has been pleased with his team's progress on the practice field during the open date as they have collected rave reviews from the head coach.
"We have had a good week," Dooley said. "I feel like our spirit is back, our energy is back, I think these guys are ready to play and we just have to go out there and do it."
On the defensive side of the ball, this week the Vols will be looking to cut back on the amount of big plays they are surrendering to opponents. Overall, their play has been on par, but they are just short of some very great performances.
"There have been some really good plays," defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox said. "What we have to get rid of is just the big, explosive (plays).
"We have to get rid of those because we have played a lot of really good plays through three games, but at the end of the day, playing a lot of good plays doesn't help you in the end if you don't do enough to win."
On the other side of the ball, freshman tailback Marlin Lane has shown promise, as Tennessee gets ready to enter a bear of an October schedule.
"Marlin Lane has had a lot better week," Dooley said. "He is playing faster and he looks more confident. Hopefully we will run it better."
Tennessee fans will also get their first look at Knoxville native and freshman specialist Devrin Young, who Dooley confirmed would make his first appearance in the orange and white on Saturday.
"We are going to play Devrin," Dooley said. "He is going to get an opportunity to get out there and we will see how he looks, how he feels and how he does depends on how much."
Young was back healthy in time for a possible start at Florida, but was held out due to lack of practice time following a fractured collarbone injury.
"He has had the benefit of that week, an open week where we worked him very hard and then a good week this week," Dooley said. "I feel like he has got enough work in to where he can go do the things we are asking him to do."
Young, Dooley and the squad will continue their Buffalo preparations Thursday afternoon. The head coach is giving the team the morning to sleep in per the University being on fall break on Thursday and Friday.