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Tennessee Vols QB Nico Iamaleava fails to dominate final spring practice

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Tennessee’s Nico Iamaleava is the headliner, but he’s not the only quarterback expected to be ready to lead the Volunteers’ offense now and in the near future.

”All-in-all today, I thought they handled the mechanics, the game-like situations extremely well,” Tennessee coach Josh Heupel said following the Orange and White Game on Saturday. “Decisive and accurate for most of the day. A couple of balls that were high in the middle of the football, but all-in-all, I thought they handled themselves extremely well.” 

Tennessee didn’t receive nearly as much from Iamaleava as most would have expected. The redshirt freshman completed his one pass attempt for three yards. Meanwhile, freshman Jake Merklinger completed four-of-five passes on Saturday for 101 yards and a touchdown.

“I thought he handled himself really well.” Heupel said. “He’s a young guy, and you guys have heard me say it, as a coach I break it up into thirds during the 15 practices that you get during in spring ball, and just his growth fundamentally, understanding what we’re doing with defensive structures and being a good decision maker. 

“He’s just continued to grow throughout the course of spring ball, so today in front of fans and having the opportunity to play in the stadium, I thought he did a nice job.” 

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The Vols were led at times by walk-on quarterback Gaston Moore, who completed eight-of-12 passes for 137 yards and a touchdown while allowing two sacks. Of course, fans were very interested in Iamaleava, who wasn’t asked to do much. Iamaleava had one carry for a loss of two yards.

“There is so much growth from any quarterback as they go through the early stages of learning what it takes to play college football,” Heupel said. “How intentional, how much time he spends inside of the building, which leads to the understanding of what we’re doing offensively. 

“Understanding the why behind it is really important for players as well. The structures of defenses, protections, being able to understand when you’re hot and when you have to get the ball out of your hands, how to slide protections and get yourself in good matchups. 

“Quarterbacks control a lot more than people think in our run game. It’s continued growth there. He has really good command. He does a great job being intentional in his leadership role, communication role and in one-on-one situations. 

“He’s going to have to continue to grow as a leader inside of our program as he goes through his career. That’s typical of every young quarterback.” 

That may be the only thing typical of Iamaleava.

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2 Responses

  1. Nico. Completed 1 pass for 3 yards? Did u guys watch the game ? His stats were way higher than that. Sheesh!

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