Josh Heupel didn’t explicitly say it on Wednesday, but it looks like the Tennessee Vols have their starting quarterback for the Missouri game.
Heupel spoke briefly about UT’s quarterback situation on Wednesday night during his weekly appearance on “Vol Calls”, offering a positive update on Hendon Hooker’s status.
“Hendon has been able to practice the last couple of days,” said Heupel. “Not his normal amount of work, but has been able to get work in. We want to make sure that he ends up getting to 100 percent. And (we) feel like he’s on that path, but we’ll find out more.”
“Tomorrow is a unique day for us in that it’s a walk-through day,” added Heupel. “You get some evaluation on guys, but Friday you get a chance to go out and run around. Kind of your final call on where the health of your players is for kickoff.”
Hooker, who has started the past two games for UT, was injured in the second half of the Vols’ loss to the Florida Gators last weekend. He was replaced by Joe Milton, who is still recovering from an injury he sustained in the loss to Pittsburgh earlier this month.
Milton is still listed as Tennessee’s starting quarterback on the depth chart that was released on Monday (though to be fair, that depth chart hasn’t really been updated since the start of the season).
At this point, however, Hooker is undoubtedly the quarterback that gives the Vols the best chance to win. The offense operates more efficiently with Hooker at quarterback. And he brings a running element to the game that Milton doesn’t quite provide.
Milton wasn’t 100 percent for the Florida game, but he was healthy enough to play in relief of Hooker. That tells me that Heupel likely views Hooker as the better option.
If that’s the case, then a near-100 percent Hooker will almost certainly be the starting quarterback against Mizzou.
That’s good news for the Vols. This is a game that Tennessee needs to win to show that Heupel has the program on the right track. The performance against Florida offered plenty of positives, but nothing is more positive than a win.
Featured image via Calvin Mattheis/News Sentinel via Imagn Content Services