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Tennessee Football: Quarterbacks thrive against UConn

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Tennessee football had no issues throwing the ball against UConn. The Vols came away with a 59-3 victory, and it was highlighted by another efficient Joe Milton III day.

Milton showcased his ability outside of the pocket, something that wasn’t as prevalent earlier in the season. He finished the day 11-of-14 passing for 254 yards and a par of touchdowns.

“That comes with practice, just taking the practice reps as truly game reps,” Milton said. “Understanding that in practice, every rep that you take, you have to treat it like a game. The moment that you let up on that rep, the moment that rep can be taken from you within a game when it actually presents itself.”

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Milton had arguably his best game of the season a week ago in Lexington, and he followed it up with another efficient performance on Saturday. Over his last three performances, he has a 74% completion percentage to go with five passing touchdowns and a rushing touchdown.

He threw a dime to Squirrel White over the middle and also found a wide-open Ramel Keyton. The redshirt senior has extended his streak to 13 consecutive games with a touchdown pass.

“Still a young starter within our system,” Tennessee head coach Josh Heupel said. “He’s been here, he’s had opportunities at the end of the game, but he was still new as a starter and there’s a lot of new pieces and moving pieces around him. And good teams continue to grow and get better. This team, you guys know I’ve said I like the way they prepare, I like the way they practice. We’ve continued to grow and because of that, and his efforts, he’s continued to grow too, (also) the guys around him. So the efficiency here, the last few weeks, (has been) solid.”

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Nico Iamaleava also got solid playing time on Saturday. He completed 5-of-9 passes for 86 yards. He completed a touchdown pass to McCallan Castles on a fake QB run.

In the only two drives Heupel gave Iamaleava, he showcased the natural pocket presence and ability that made him a blue-chip quarterback. Still, Heupel sees areas of growth for Iamaleava in fundamental and communication areas.

“Just the way the season has unfolded, we haven’t had a lot of opportunities for some guys that are a little bit down our depth chart, are not starting, to get some of that action,” Heupel said. “Nico went out, I thought he handled all parts of the game really well for the most part. There’s a couple of learning opportunities for him. I thought he was timely using his feet, accurate with the football for the most part. There’s a couple things that he would want back, really solid performance from him.”

Milton and Iamaleava spent a lot of time talking on the sideline on Saturday. The duo have bounced ideas of one another all year, with Heupel praising their relationship. The two went watch film immediately following the UConn game, Milton said.

“I mean, Nico is a baller, man,” said Milton. “Y’all know that. Every opportunity he gets, make sure at practice you make all the opportunities real. So when that game time does come and you never know what can happen, he’ll be be ready for his moment. Out there today, I felt like he did good. There’s also things to learn from. We’ll go over that today. What time is it? Four o-clock? We’ll go over that at like 4:10.”

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