Tennessee first-year coach Butch Jones confesses the Vols "are not a very mentally tough football team" after the worst loss in over 100 years, 59-14 at Oregon last Saturday.
That toughness gets tested again this Saturday (3:30 p.m. ET, CBS) when the Vols visit Florida, which has won the past eight meetings between the schools.
The 45-point defeat in Eugene was the largest for Tennessee since a 48-0 loss to Mississippi A&M (now Mississippi State) in 1910.
"When you go on the road you have to have a road focus about yourself," Jones said. "I thought that the game became fast, we suffered some adversity, and we had some individuals make some uncharacteristic mistakes and mental errors.
"To go on the road and play in these types of environments against some quality opponents, not only Oregon but as we continue to progress and move forward throughout the season, our mental toughness and mental conditioning has to take monumental steps forward."
Tennessee had 16 missed tackles against Oregon. On offense, Jones was distressed about the lack of big plays.
"We didn't have big plays, big chunk yardage, and we were forced to drive the football against a talented defense like Oregon. You're not going to have much success," Jones said. "I continue to say it, we must overachieve in order to be able to compete and win football games."
Jones realizes after getting steamrolled in Oregon, the Florida visit isn't ideal — and could also be ugly if the tide doesn't turn.
"In getting ready to face a very, very, very talented Florida football team, the demands become greater," Jones said. "When you look at them defensively, they're only giving about 50 yards per game in the rushing category. Third down conversions, I've never seen this in all my years of coaching. They lead the country in third down conversions. They've given up two out of 24 attempts on third-down conversions. They're third in the country in total defense given up, 208.5 yards per game.
"They're extremely talented, physical, and very active, offensively, playmakers all over the place, another dual threat quarterback (Jeff Driskel) who can run, who can pass. A little bit different schematically, but a lot of the same similarities as well, in terms of different reads for your linebackers, their eye discipline, play-action, unbalanced sets, and getting the ball in the hands of their playmakers."
Jones also noted it's another "hostile environment."
Tennessee senior offensive lineman Ja'Wuan James realizes the lessons have to be learned fast in the SEC.
"As leaders, we can't let this go downhill. Last year, after the third week of the season, it started to go downhill," he said. "As a senior and a leader, we have to make sure everybody bounces back with a great week of practice to get ready for Florida."