KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Saturday’s game is going to come down to protection. The Vols surrendered five sacks in last year’s matchup with Pittsburgh.

“Their whole team plays together,” said Tennessee senior offensive lineman Jerome Carvin. “They’re experienced. A lot of older guys on their team. They won’t beat themselves. They don’t make a lot of mistakes. We have to be locked in and focused. We really gotta play really hard. We gotta not match them but play over them.”

Tennessee expects a drastic change in styles from Ball State.

“I don’t think we gotta pick up on Thursday night,” said Tennessee running back Jabari Small. “I think they dropped eight every third down. We gonna actually have to pick up in protection this week. They’re a pretty physical team. They come down here showed us some pressure. We’re excited for the challenge.”

Fortunately for Tennessee, this year’s team is different from last year’s.

“I would say we’re not better or worse. We’re more confident just knowing the system. Just knowing what’s at stake. Not being too big-eyed when the lights come on. I think just our confidence in general as a whole team, especially the offense.”

As for the left tackle position, Heupel says both Gerald Mincey and Jeremiah Crawford did a solid job in game number one, but he expects to know more about the position after this week.