It's 21 and counting before it's football time in Tennessee.
With football fall camp almost half completed, Derek Dooley and his new coaching staff will be watching tonight's first full scrimmage with expert eyes to learn a little more about their football team.
Saturday night's scrimmage at 7 p.m. will go a long way in letting Dooley know how ready his team is for its season opener against Tennessee Martin in exactly 21 days.
"This will be a big scrimmage for us," Dooley said Friday. "It's not always easy being a head coach. When the offense does well you're enjoying it and then you think how we let that happen on defense."
Five keys to Saturday's scrimmage:
It will be key to see how the Vols defense responds to a less-than-impressive effort on Tuesday. The defense has been hampered by injuries, including two season-ending ones on the front line. Who will step up and make the big plays defensively in the scrimmage?
With Janzen Jackson being held out tonight, who will step up at the safety positions? Will it be Prentiss Waggoner or Brent Brewer? Will Eric Gordon have a better performance than he did Tuesday? The corner was not pleased with himself after the first outing.
The biggest question on the defensive front will be at the tackle position. Which DT (Potatoes) will distance themselves from being just mediocre? It appears that the Vols defense will be without tackle John Brown this season, so who will step up and become the go-to guy at the position? Will it be Rae Sykes or another newcomer?
Can the offense show that Tuesday's solid performance against the defensive unit wasn't a fluke?
Dooley stated that the offense was more focused and was driven coming out of the gate in Tuesday's scrimmage.
Who will step up and make the big play for the offense today?
How important is it for the young offense to come back out tonight and punch the defense in the mouth again?
Will it be Tauren Poole, who has broken a big run in all the spring and fall scrimmages so far?
Will Bray make up some ground against the leader Simms today, or will Simms be more consistent and have another solid outing?
The Vols offensive line had a solid performance Tuesday, and can they have a repeat performance this evening?
Who will stand on this line tonight? Can they continue to aid Poole in his streak of breaking big runs?
What newcomer will have a surprise performance tonight? Dooley has said several times that someone needs to emerge as a playmaker for this young squad.
Will it be a freshman wide receiver?
Will it be a true freshman or redshirt freshman? Tonight will be the opportunity for the young guys to step up and prove to the new coaching staff that they have come to play.