Notebook: Oregon game week

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At the end of the week, the Tennessee Volunteers will board an airplane and travel more than 2,500 miles to one of the most hostile environments in all of college football.

The Ducks are 31-3 at home in the last five years. The trip is daunting for obvious reasons.

And Tennessee head coach Butch Jones didn't downplay the Ducks on Monday. He called the nation's second-ranked team the most "complete" team he has "seen to date."

But Jacob Carter isn't intimidated. He can't wait.

It's a dream scenario for the redshirt junior wideout. He prefers away games, and few road tests will be harder than the one fast approaching.

Carter welcomes the challenge of silencing away crowds. He embraces playing with an "us against the world" mentality.

Carter will get his wish and then some Saturday.

"I don't know what it is, I like away games a lot. Away games, it's something different," Carter told InsideTennessee. "It's a different feel. I love it. I can't wait."

The Vols are tasked with slowing arguably the most explosive offense in football. The speed the Ducks play with is second to none.

But this weekend's unnerving non-conference game has its benefits.

It will test the team's camaraderie. Tennessee's true colors will show.

"You're kind of in your own little world with your team and your crew. They're all you have," Carter said. "You get tighter and closer on the road."

The Vols' first road game of the 2013 campaign also will test the team's "snap and clear" mentality – the ability to not dwell on the previous play.

And being short minded against Oregon will be critical.

"They're going to get their big plays," Jones said. "The key is to not have one (big play) equal two and two equal three and four and so on."

Updates and notes

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MCCULLERS
  • Jones said he "fully expects" to be with Jacques Smith both during practice this week and on Saturday against Oregon.
  • There is still no official word on the status of standout linebacker Curt Maggitt and Corey Vereen. Jones said Monday that Maggitt and Vereen continue to progress and he remains optimistic about both.
  • After reviewing the game film from Western Kentucky, Jones said he was only displeased with two of Justin Worley's throws in the second half.
  • Jones said Daniel McCullers took strides in improving his pass rush ability against Western Kentucky. However, Jones said that Trevarris Saulsberry provides the better third down option.
  • Jones said young cornerbacks made progress in terms of eye discipline against Western Kentucky, but added that it is still "no where close to where it needs to be." Jones also said he counted five missed tackles against the Hilltoppers.
  • The new and improved Palardy

    Michael Palardy remembers the frustration all too well. The senior kicker can still hear the boos reign down from the crowd.

    Those memories are still fresh. His struggles have been well documented.

    But, Palardy feels that's a thing of the past. The embattled kicker is more confident than ever.

    Palardy credits his rejuvenation to the coaching staff and his newly acquired punting duties.

    "I believe that the coaching staff has put me in a position where I have a lot of confidence when I am going out onto the field whether it is in practice or in kicking game winning field goals simulated in practice or backed-up punts," Palardy said. "In those games situations, I feel like the coaching staff has done a really good job at helping me go out in the game and helping do what I need to do."

    Palardy's punting duties provide a confidence boost simply because now he's on the field more.

    "The more I am out on the field, the more comfortable I am in every situation I am put in," he said.

    Two-headed attack continues

    Running backs Rajion Neal and Marlin Lane have split carries through the first two games.

    It will remain that way throughout the entire season.

    Jones said platooning running backs is key to this offenses' success. It adds fresh legs and a change of pace.

    Instead of a one-two punch, Jones likes to think of Lane and Neal as a "one-one punch." The head coach has been extremely pleased with how each back compliments each other.

    "You need more than one running back," Jones said. "In a perfect world in our offense we need three or four running backs and Marlin and Rajion right now are really complimenting each other. They're encouraging each other."

    Last week, Jones' biggest knock on his two-headed rushing attack was they failed to run behind their blockers and bounced outside too often.

    Jones said the problem was largely corrected versus Western Kentucky.

    "I thought Rajion got more north and south and ran behind his pads," Jones said. "I thought Marlin Lane did the same thing so I thought we took strides in that area."

    Tinkering with tempo

    Tennessee's best defense Saturday could be its offense.

    The longer the Ducks' explosive offense is on the sideline, the better.

    And in order to keep the likes of Marcus Mariota and company off the field, expect the Vols to abort its up-tempo offense. Sustaining drives will be key.

    "We'll mix our tempos up but we're going to do whatever it takes to win the football game and it's going to take a phenomenal effort but again our kids are very prideful and I know we're looking forward to the challenge," Jones said.


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