KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – With 12 Tennessee’s opener against Virginia quickly approaching, Josh Heupel is making sure his quarterback can handle any situation he faces.

While Heupel has praised Joe Milton’s growth throughout fall camp, he said the one area he needs to work on is situational awareness.

“You put quarterbacks in tough situations, and in some situations during practice, you put them in the hardest spots that they can be in,” said Heupel. “He’s continued to grow in his understanding of football 101 and understanding when can I hang in the pocket? When is it time to get rid of the football— make sure in a certain situations whether we’re backed up or in field goal where you’ve got three (points) and you’re trying to score seven (points). Understanding the timing and how to play smart football in those situations. He’s continued to grow and I love what he’s done.”

Allowing quarterbacks to get as many reps in different game-like situations is not just a focus for Milton, but for all Heupel’s quarterbacks.

“The other quarterbacks in the room have continued to grow as we put them into a lot of situations,” said Heupel. “I think that’s one of the things I’ve done as a head coach to try and create more situational awareness and trying to get more reps in those situations. That’s been a part of helping those guys but also all 125 in the locker room.”

While Milton is the No.1 quarterback on Tennessee’s roster, Heupel said he loves how Nico Iamaleava has grown during spring and fall camp, and feels he could be the leader of the offense if Milton were to get injured.

“I think he’s ready to play at a really high level,” said Heupel. “All young quarterbacks, it’s different when you get out there and it’s lot of bullets and you don’t have a right jersey on. But I feel really good about where he’s at. Command of our offense, being a really sound decision-maker, fundamentally being able to get himself in a good position to be consistently accurate with the ball. I like what he’s done.”