As fans filed into Neyland Stadium on Saturday afternoon, the only question that seemed to be unanswered was at QB. Hendon Hooker got the start for the Vols against Tennessee Tech, as Joe Milton was unavailable, due to injury. Hooker, who practiced most of the week with the first team, had his moments against the squad from Cookeville.
The Vols were looking to open it up on offense a bit more, as they prepare to play Florida next week in Gainesville. So, the question on everybody’s mind was how would the quarterback position look. Well, today we received a further look at the athletic ability of Hendon Hooker. The backup QB in week one and two, went 17-25 for 199 yards and 3 touchdowns. On the ground, Hooker ran for 64 yards, on nine attempts, for 1 touchdown. Against this defense, there was a lot left on the field, even though Hooker had a combined 263 yards of offense.
Heupel said following the game about Hooker, “Some real positives. Decisive, accurate at times. He did a good job with his legs. Can’t have those turnovers”.
When it comes to how the offense produced today, Josh Heupel was upset with the opportunities left on the field again.
“There’s a bunch of plays out there offensively that we’re going to eventually have to take advantage of. The level of competition is about to go up to another level”.
“Our pace isn’t anywhere near we want it to be”, Heupel added about the offense.
There were times where Hendon looked the part, hitting receivers in stride or towards the sideline. But, there were also multiple missed opportunities down the field, which probably made folks think about the QB who was on the sideline today. Hooker did had one turnover on the day, after he was sent flying, on a hit as he was running for the first down.
Joe Milton was unavailable today, as he was on the sidelines, talking with the offensive unit as they would come off the field. Josh Heupel was asked about the status of Milton, heading into Florida week.
“I think the next couple of days will be big for him when it comes to rehab. We’ll see if he’s ready.”
If Milton is healthy, this week will be very interesting when it comes to reps in practice. The Vols obviously play faster with Milton behind center, but they won’t throw him into the game if he can’t scramble with authority. Also, as Heupel pointed out postgame, accuracy continues to be an issue, no matter who is throwing it.
“This is the third straight game you’ve had guys running open and you haven’t been able to connect.”
Based on that quote alone, I’d expect the starting quarterback not to be named until Tennessee takes the field next Saturday.
It will most likely be another week of figuring out who will lead this team behind center.