It’s game week on Rocky Top as the Volunteers get set to kick off their 2021 season in just three days’ time.
Head coach Josh Heupel met with the media on Monday to preview Thursday’s season opener against Bowling Green. Kickoff is set for 8 p.m. at Neyland Stadium, Shields-Watkins Field.
“We have been at work over the course of the weekend. We had three really good practices. Guys are mentally and physically in a really good spot,” Heupel said. “We need to clean some things up the next couple of days, but we are excited for the opportunity to go play inside Neyland Stadium.
“For our coaches, this will be their first opportunity to play inside Neyland, run through the T and experience the Vol Walk. I am unbelievably excited about those opportunities and the chance to live out those traditions. We are excited to go out and show the work we have put in during the last seven to eight months to go play some football.”
The big news of the day was Heupel naming redshirt junior Joe Milton III the starting quarterback for Thursday night’s opener. The Michigan transfer joined the team in June and has impressed Heupel and the staff with his strong arm and accuracy as well as his decision-making and athleticism.
“At the end of the day, Joe’s grasp of our offense in a short amount of time, his growth during the middle portion of training and his acceleration in what we are doing with his physical attributes and decision making led us to put the ball in his hands for the first game.”
Heupel was also quick to note that he really likes the quarterback group as a whole and trusts any of his three scholarship signal callers if and when their names are called.
“I really do mean it when I say that I love that group,” Heupel said. “They push each other and are really positive. Our team and offensive group see and feel that energy. All three of them have a positive effect on the offense and team as a whole. They’ve handled that throughout this entire process, which is really difficult to do.
“I really believe that all three of them will have an opportunity to go play at a really high level if given the opportunity.”