September 4, 2010, may have marked the beginning of the Derek Dooley era at Tennessee, but September 11 will be his first true test.
Two days removed from their blowout 50-0 win over UT-Martin, even Dooley acknowledged the extreme talent gap between the two sister schools.
"It was good we had success," said Dooley. "I don't want to minimize the job the players did because there were a lot of other teams that were more talented than their opponent and they didn't play well. I am proud of how we played, but that's game one and we have Oregon this week."
The Ducks will march into Neyland Stadium boasting a No. 11 national ranking and returning 17 of 22 players to a Pac-10 Championship team.
"You see great coaching, a very talented football team, you can tell they are very experienced," said Dooley. "As good as they were last year they have 17 guys back out of 22 and it shows."
Apparently, the Ducks took some notes on SEC speed. It appears Chip Kelly has taken notes on SEC speed and snagged a few speedsters of his own. Dooley said the Ducks have one of the fastest teams he has ever seen.
"Nobody ever stops them," he said. "You have to try and slow them down. You have to be sound fundamentally, try to get some breaks and you have to play well on offense.
"They are fast, they play physical, they are very disciplined and they are excellent on special teams. They are just a high-level ball club on all phases. There isn't really any weakness."
Kelly's Oregon team started off the season similar to Dooley's Vols with a warm-up victory, 72-0, over a New Mexico team that finished 2009 with only one victory.
Their absolute destruction of New Mexico came without their starting tailback, LaMichael James, who missed Saturday's game due to a suspension. Obviously, it had little effect on the outcome of their week one matchup when their second-string back scored five touchdowns in just the first half.
"Them and Bama probably have the two best running back combinations that you will see in the country," said Dooley. "They had their best runner out and you see how bad that hurt them last week."
Dooley said his old school approach hardly applies when facing a quick-strike offense like the Ducks.
"When they go on a ten-play drive it takes them about two minutes," said Dooley. "It's the fastest offense you will see. If we go on a ten-play drive it may take us a quarter to get it done, which is fine with me.
"I am kind of from the old school – the field position, the clock – this (offense) throws all that out the window."
Tennessee fans shouldn't be worried that the Volunteers are overconfident after their shutout win over UT-Martin. Or at least Dooley hopes not.
"If they look at the film and they get over-confident then we have a bigger problem," said Dooley. "We have an intelligence issue that we have to deal with. I will probably send them to the Thorton Center for a little work. If I have to worry about that this week we have bigger issues than you guys can even imagine."
Dooley and the Volunteers will begin preparation for Saturday's game on Monday afternoon with a practice at Haslam Field.