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Heupel talks quarterbacks after 56-0 win over Tennessee Tech

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Florida looms next.

Syndication: The Knoxville News-Sentinel Saul Young/News Sentinel via Imagn Content Services, LLC

Tennessee rolled on Saturday against a really bad Tennessee Tech team, beating the Golden Eagles 56-0. It was a day where the Volunteers had a chance to work out some issues, but they were also dealing with plenty of injuries.

With Joe Milton out, Hendon Hooker got the start at quarterback. It’s unclear how things would have gone if Milton were available, after the Michigan transfer struggled through his first couple of games.

Hooker entered the game against Pittsburgh, offering a more steady approach. That continued against Tennessee Tech.

“Some real positives,” Heupel said of Hooker. “Decisive. Accurate at times. Did a good job using his feet at times. The turnovers can’t happen. There are plays in the pass game from the pocket, wide receivers behind (the defense) back there again. We’re not connecting on those. Got to at some point make those plays.”

Hooker did miss downfield early on some open opportunities, continuing a frustrating early trend for the Tennessee offense. He did go 17-25 on the day passing, throwing for 199 yards and three touchdowns on the day while adding another 64 on the ground.

But the missed opportunities certainly stand out down the field, as the Tennessee receivers continue to win deep.

“At the end of the day it’s about 11 guys playing together as one,” Heupel said. “We’re at a point where we should be able to execute those things at a higher level than we did in the first three games. Week 1 is anomaly, a little bit different structures than what we were going to see in Week 1 in our offense. Week 2 we didn’t connect the way we were capable of. We’ve got to grow out of that. You’ve guys have heard me say it, our players have too. We’re in a race against ourselves to get as good as we can as fast as we can. We’ve got to get better quickly. Big opponent, as far as a test, next week down in Gainesville.”

Focus now shifts to the Florida Gators, who are coming off of a tough loss to Alabama. Again, it’s unclear what Heupel will do at quarterback, assuming Milton is back to full health. Milton was able to practice last week, for what it’s worth. Has Hooker done enough to earn the start next weekend?

“(Milton) had some opportunities to work with us during the middle part of the week,” Heupel said. “At the end of the week, didn’t felt like he may be ready. I think the next couple days will be big in his rehab. We’ll see where he’s at when we get on the field on Tuesday.”

The quarterback decision is the situation to follow this week, but don’t expect any answers from Heupel until Saturday night.