Josh Heupel updates Tennessee quarterback Joe Milton's status and why Harrison Bailey hasn't played
Milton and Hendon Hooker both played in UT's 41-34 loss to Pittsburgh last week, but Harrison Bailey has not played this season.
"We do not have a starter yet," Heupel said on the SEC teleconference Wednesday. "(Milton) was out on the practice field today. I don't know if he will be available on Saturday.
"Some of those guys that were nicked up after the ball game are guys that are going to progress through the week, and we'll see where we're at as we get closer to kickoff."
On UT's depth chart, Bailey and Hooker have been listed as dual No. 2 quarterbacks behind Milton before all three games. But Hooker has played twice and Bailey has not.
"Our staff and players have great confidence in both (Hooker and Bailey)," Heupel said. "Hendon, just where we were in the course of practice and what we were doing offensively, I felt like it was right time for him to be the guy to go in the football game."
Heupel praises Bailey's leadership qualities
Bailey, a sophomore, has been the odd man out so far in what’s developing into a possible quarterback shuffle as the Vols (1-1) prepare to play Saturday (noon ET, ESPN+/SEC Network+) against Tennessee Tech (0-2).
"Harrison is smart, competitive, plays for his teammates, pushes them in a positive way," Heupel said. "He's a good leader inside our team. He is on our leadership council. He prepares the right way, too."
Milton, a Michigan transfer, started the first two games. But he left with a leg injury late in the first half of UT’s 41-34 loss to Pittsburgh last week and did not return.
Hooker, the Virginia Tech transfer who replaced Milton, led three touchdown drives. But he also lost a fumble and tossed an interception.
Milton, Hooker, Bailey and Brian Maurer competed for the starting quarterback role in preseason practice.
Milton has passed for 189 yards and one TD and rushed for 99 yards and two TDs in six quarters. Hooker has passed for 193 yards, two TDs and one interception and rushed for 49 yards in parts of four quarters.
On Aug. 19, Maurer announced he was entering the NCAA transfer portal.
Bailey, who made three starts last season, has not played this season. He is the only quarterback remaining from last season’s team under coach Jeremy Pruitt, who was fired in January.
UT shouldn’t have much trouble against FCS school Tennessee Tech, which lost 26-0 to Furman last week. But Heupel needs to gain clarity at quarterback before playing seven straight SEC games, beginning with No. 9 Florida on Sept. 25.
Reach Adam Sparks at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @AdamSparks.