EUGENE, Ore. (AP) — In his first year as head coach at Tennessee, Butch Jones wants to rebuild the Vols. In his first year as head coach at Oregon, Mark Helfrich wants the Ducks to stay the course.
The two programs collide on Saturday when Tennessee visits Oregon.
The second-ranked Ducks will be the toughest test so far in Jones' tenure with the Vols. It doesn't get any easier: included in Tennessee's next five games are No. 18 Florida, No. 9 Georgia, No. 13 South Carolina and No. 1 Alabama.
Former Vols coach Derek Dooley was fired last November in part because of his 0-15 record against Top 25 teams. Tennessee has lost its last 16 games against ranked foes since beating No. 21 South Carolina 31-13 on Oct. 31, 2009.
This season under Jones the Vols have lopsided wins against Austin Peay and Western Kentucky. They've been playing more disciplined with just two penalties and they've been more opportunistic, converting seven Western Kentucky turnovers into 38 points last Saturday.
Tennessee is tied with Arizona State for fewest penalties among FBS teams, and tied with Tulane for most takeaways.
"We're learning how to win. We're learning how to fight through fatigue when it gets a little bit hot. We need more leadership. That's what championship football teams do. They have that inner drive," Jones said. "A lot of times, you're willing to give up something you want at a moment of convenience. We have to learn to push and grind our ways through."
Helfrich stepped into a much better situation. Oregon's offensive coordinator for the past four years was promoted to head coach when Chip Kelly went to the Philadelphia Eagles earlier this year.
The Ducks went 46-7 the past four years under Kelly — credited with designing the Ducks' innovative speedy spread option — and played in BCS bowl games in each of those years. Last season, Oregon went 12-1 and beat Kansas State in the Fiesta Bowl.
The Ducks haven't missed a beat under Helfrich so far this season, with easy wins over Nicholls State and Virginia. Oregon's prolific offense has averaged 664.5 total offensive yards a game, including 425 yards rushing. The team averages 62.5 points.
Kelly was Oregon's coach three seasons ago when the Ducks visited Tennessee and trailed 13-3 before scoring the game's final 45 points. The 48-13 loss was the last time Tennessee dropped a regular-season game to a non-conference opponent.
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