KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Josh Heupel opened up his press conference by praising all the great attributes his team showed during their second fall scrimmage, but the head coach eventually expounded on the mechanical issues the team is having.
“The first scrimmage, in all reality, was probably a little cleaner than today’s just operationally: sideline, play clock, getting things settled as we get out there on the field the first play of a drive,” said Heupel. “I am not worried about where we are. We are pretty intentional on working those things during practice. I thought today could have been cleaner, but it was not just one guy. All of us just need to be a little bit cleaner.”
The team has two weeks and change toward working to fix those issues, but the head coach has been impressed with his quarterback play. Joe Milton enters his final season with the Orange & White, and the senior is saving his best for last.
“He was really accurate with the football, really decisive, been a really good decision maker,” vocalized Heupel. “I do not know if he has thrown a pick all training camp. Been in control of protections for the most part; we have continued to push their hand on that side of it. That is Joe and the guys behind him, too, and I think they have continued to grow in that way.”
The running back room is set to be three deep this season with Jabari Small, Jaylen Wright and Dylan Sampson all back from last season. The head coach saw progress from that room.
“There are some things that are unique within our run game that I thought our guys handled really well,” explained Heupel. “Some of that in our pull schemes. I thought the backs did a really good job of pressing, making cuts, some of that coming out the back door. We manage the load of the guys that you’ve seen play a lot of football here. A lot of our young backs got a lot of work today. I thought they handled and operated better than they did in the first scrimmage. They continue to get comfortable in how they play.”
The Vols open their season on Sept. 2 against Virginia at Nissan Stadium in Nashville. Kickoff is at noon.