Entering the season, Tennessee’s gauntlet of games stretching from late September to late October looked like one of the most challenging five-game schedules in the nation. While a few of the teams in that lineup haven’t lived up to the billing, the obvious candidate has emerged arguably as an even tougher task than imagined.

Alabama has more than lived up to the hype and appears to have an unstoppable offense led by the Heisman Trophy frontrunner in Tua Tagovailoa. If Tennessee is going to improve its SEC record to 2-2 come Saturday, it’s going to take several players to play the best football of their lives in Neyland Stadium.

Here’s what a few of the Volunteers had to say regarding the upcoming challenge of facing the No. 1 team in the nation this weekend:

Offensive lineman Ryan Johnson

On the Alabama rivalry:

“It is a really important rivalry. I grew up a UT fan, so I know the rivalry, I’ve been around it my whole life. It’s the Third Saturday in October, it’s important, it really is and it’s got a lot of tradition behind it. Alabama is a really good football team. They have a lot of good players and coaches, so it will be a real tough challenge, but I’m ready for the fight.”

Receiver Marquez Callaway

On if playing Alabama helps the team dial back in:

“I think everybody knows what we’re about to go into. It’s a home game, so I know we’ll have our home crowd with us and it’ll be an advantage.”

On the state of the Alabama rivalry:

“If you look into the past that’s something that can’t be undone, so really we’re just looking forward to this year. We’re going to have a good game plan going into this game with the mindset of winning.”

Defensive lineman Kyle Phillips

On the importance of slowing down the Alabama offense:

“Like last week, we let them go down the first drive and score, so we have to do a better job with that. We have to make sure we slow them down to start the game and make them uncomfortable.”