Tennessee coach Josh Heupel has adopted a “wait-and-see” approach to his team’s situation at quarterback as the Volunteers (1-1) prepare for Saturday’s nonconference game against Tennessee Tech (0-2).
Joe Milton III, a transfer from Michigan, has started the first two games for the Vols after beating out Virginia Tech transfer Hendon Hooker and returnee Harrison Bailey, who had three starts as a freshman last year.
But Milton sustained a leg injury in last week’s 41-34 loss to Pittsburgh and was largely ineffective before going down. He managed only 50 yards passing while going 7-of-12, though he did rush for 54 yards despite 14 yards in losses on sacks. He is 18-of-35 passing for 189 yards in a game-and-a-half.
Hooker completed 15-of-21 attempts for 188 yards in 2 1/2 quarters against Pitt but also lost a fumble and threw an interception in Pitt territory on Tennessee’s final series.
“I thought Hendon did a lot of good things,” Heupel said. “As a backup you don’t get the same amount of reps and you don’t know when your time is going to be called.
“I thought he answered the bell with a lot of positive things during the course of play. Obviously, he has to do a better job taking care of the football.”
Heupel said he will be evaluating Milton’s injury in practice but did not commit to starting him if he is healthy.
“We’ll find out during the course of the week,” Heupel said. “There are multiple factors that play into who’s taking the snaps.”
The game against Tennessee Tech — the third consecutive at home for the Vols to open the season — doesn’t figure to be much of a challenge for the Vols, but a trip to No. 11 Florida is coming up on Sept. 25.
The FCS team opened the season with a 52-14 loss to Samford and last week lost 26-0 at home against Furman. The Golden Eagles have managed only 352 yards in total offense in two games after rushing for 23 yards and passing for only 98 against Furman.
“We’re scrapping hard, but the consistency is not where it needs to be,” Tech coach Dewayne Alexander said. “There’s a difference in playing hard and playing well. You still have to be able to do both.”
Quarterback Davis Shanley has thrown four interceptions while completing 45.5 percent of his passes for 219 yards and one score. Tennessee Tech’s long passing gain is 23 yards.’
–Field Level Media
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