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Football Eval: Tennessee OC Joey Halzle breaks down Vols’ QB Joe Milton III

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Tennessee’s coaches continued to declare how confident they were in quarterback Joe Milton III throughout the offseason. He did nothing to disappoint them in his first outing this season.

Milton completed 21-of-30 passes for 201 yards and two touchdowns as the Vols pounded the Cavs 49-13 on Saturday. Milton also ran the ball nine times for 33 yards and two touchdowns. That’s a pretty good day at the office.

Here is what Tennessee offensive coordinator Joe Halzle had to say about Milton during his press conference on Tuesday:

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Takeaways and what Milton needs to focus on this week

“His eyes were in a great spot the entire time. (He) brought a bunch of different looks and he never wavered and where his eye discipline was, which is why you saw him complete over 70-percent of his passes in the first game. He looked really good. He looked confident, he looked comfortable in the pocket. 

“He had a couple of really good scrambles for us…So his handling of the offense and his efficiency within the pocket was at a really high level. And just like always, like as you’re playing the first game, sometimes your feet get a little bit sloppy from time to time as your mind is going to other stuff. So cleaning up that, so we make sure we can maintain that that level of efficiency that he had.”

On Milton being willing to progress through his reads and not force deep passes

“There’s a maturity to it. There’s also, with we’ve talked about since January, what he’s put in and invested into this with his eye discipline. When you know where you’re supposed to be, when you know the timing you’re supposed to be on when it’s not there, it’s much easier to get to the next one. If your eyes are all over the place trying to figure out what’s going on and where you’re supposed to be, well now it’s harder to get to two, three, four (reads) because you’re just trying to find who the appropriate one is. So all that we’ve talked about since we came back here in January, February, you saw him play out with his decision making on Saturday.”

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Throwing with different velocities

“We’ve worked on that all offseason. Like, there’s just different types of throws to make. When you’re working something over the middle of the field, you’re probably touching something up in the windows if you’re on time. If somebody, like you saw the other day, Squirrel ran that hook on the far opposite sideline, he let that thing go with the vapor trail off the back of it. So like you get those type of throws still. And then the one that he touched up to Ramel coming across the middle that we hit that big play on the second-and-long that got us going, he just touched that up right over the top of the ‘backer and dropped it in the bucket right there. 

“So there’s a multitude of throws that a quarterback has to play and that’s what you’re seeing Joe do. He’s playing the game like a quarterback at a really high level, not (just like a) thrower. He’s a quarterback that knows how to touch the ball up, knows how to use his arm strength when he needs it, knows how to dial it back to touch a ball up the be on time.”

Milton as a runner and how that can help the Vols’ offense

”It once again goes back to what we talked about with the overall quarterback play. He’s extremely defined with his eyes and he’s pulling it and he’s coming down to run when it makes sense on the pass game. And he’s pulling it in the run game when it also makes sense. He’s not forcing anything. He’s not saying, ‘All right, I’m gonna run this one. It’s like, ‘Well the defense isn’t giving me the run, I’m gonna keep pulling my fake out and let our backs go for 10 yards a pop.’ 

“Now they come around tight and here he comes around the corner and with what makes him effective, like a 240-pound guy runs 4.5 like super effective. So him getting around the corner can’t be a ton of fun for a lot of people to see coming at them.”

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