By: Aaron Gibson
Junior Staff Writer
The All Vol Call in Show
Tennessee, through eight games, has a record of 6-2. Despite the disappointment of the loss to Florida and the second-half performance against Alabama, Tennessee is still at 6-2 or better for the first time in consecutive seasons since 1998 and 1999. Joe Milton, the quarterback for Tennessee, has a record of 8-2 as a starter. The Vols still have a lot to play for with the rest of the season ahead of them. Although Tennessee's program has been steadily improving under Heupel and
Milton has shown rapid improvement recently, there is a significant portion of the fan base that wants to bench him in favor of highly touted freshman Nico Iamaleava. But is this a justified position? How does Joe Milton compare to the other quarterbacks in the conference?
It is no secret that quarterback play in the SEC as a whole has declined compared to last season. Tennessee losing Hooker, Georgia losing Stetson Bennett, and Florida and Kentucky losing their veteran starting quarterbacks are major factors contributing to the decline in quarterback play in the conference. How does Joe Milton compare to the rest of the league? To be clear, I am not claiming that Milton is one of the best quarterbacks in the nation or even the league, but he's definitely not as terrible or as much of a liability as some in the fan base suggest. To any unbiased observer, it is clear that the top quarterbacks in the SEC this year are Jayden Daniels, who looks like an early season Heisman
candidate, Carson Beck, the highly touted freshman who is rapidly improving week to week, Brady Cook, who looks like a future NFL player and makes solid decisions, and Spencer Rattler, who is much improved at South Carolina and, if he had even an inkling of an offensive line, could be first-team all SEC.
Other than the top quarterbacks, where does Milton rank in the SEC in terms of statistical categories? Milton ranks 6th in completion percentage (at 64.75%), which is higher than Jalen Milroe (64.71%), Jaxson Dart (64.15%), and Devin Leary (57.27%). In the last three games, he has averaged a completion percentage of 74%, which is higher than the league leader Jayden Daniels, who
has averaged a completion percentage of 73.93% in the last three contests. Milton is 6th in completions with 158, he's tied for being sacked the 8th least amount of times, has the 4th least amount of interceptions, and is 4th in total rushing yards for a QB in the entire league, (25th overall in the SEC) averaging
4.53 yards per rush.
Do not misunderstand me; I am by no means saying that Milton is a Heisman candidate or one of the best quarterbacks in the league, but he's definitely been
solid throughout the season and has been getting better in the last couple of weeks on the road in SEC play. If Milton continues to improve, Tennessee could definitely win 9 games this season. This would be Tennessee's first back-to-back 9-plus-win season since
2015 and 2016, with Joshua Dobbs as the quarterback. If a quarterback has more rushing yards than KJ Jefferson and a higher completion percentage than Jayden
Daniels in the past three games, saying he should be benched for an unproven yet highly touted freshman seems like a premature position. While Milton is no Hendon Hooker or Joshua Dobbs, he has definitely done
enough to win on the road in the SEC and is improving week by week. Joe Milton definitely isn't Hendon Hooker or Joshua Dobbs, but then again, what quarterback