Tennessee QB Nico Iamaleava could still redshirt his freshman season with only three appearances in 2023. However, that thought isn’t the only reason he didn’t see the field against Georgia this past weekend according to Josh Heupel.
During his postgame press conference, Heupel noted that that plan may have played into why the five-star freshman didn’t take any snaps against the Bulldogs on Saturday. With that said, with the Volunteers down as much as 28, he said they also wanted to be careful about what circumstances that they just dropped him into against the No. 1 team in the nation.
“Well, at this point, just because there’s only one regular season (game left)?” said Heupel. “There’s a lot of variables that are taking place outside on that field today and what type of situation we want to put him in.”
Iamaleava made his trio of appearances against Virginia in the season opener, versus UTSA in their fourth game, and against UConn in the first game of November. In that time, he has completed seven passes on 14 attempts for 97 yards and a touchdown. Essentially all of that production came in the 56-point blowout of the Huskies as he went 5-9 for 89 yards and the score.
With one game to go and a bowl matchup as well, Iamaleava may find himself out there at least one more time before the end of the season. Still, with him as the program’s future at quarterback, there’s plenty of reasons that Heupel and the Vols have to consider when it comes to when or how they may employ him.
Tennessee vs. Vanderbilt: Early point spread released on Volunteers, Commodores
Rivalry week is here and that means the chance for some major upsets in college football. Vanderbilt would like to engineer one against Tennessee, though, judging by the early point spread, that will be a significant uphill climb.
Tennessee has opened as as a 25.5-point favorite in the annual meeting, according to lines released by FanDuel.
The annual rivalry game has typically been pretty lopsided in favor of the Volunteers, but the Commodores had a recent stretch where it won three straight games from 2016-2018.
Vanderbilt will be looking to get back to that level of success, particularly after suffering a 56-0 drubbing in the game a year ago at home. This trip to Knoxville will prove quite the challenge.
Tennessee is coming off an emotional game against Georgia. How quickly it can regroup, even with the big early point spread, will be interesting to see.
Vanderbilt will be looking to defy the spread to pick up its only conference win of the season in their final chance to do so. The Commodores have the luxury of coming off a bye week going into rivalry week, while the Volunteers are coming off a very tough game.
The two teams are scheduled to kick off at 3:30 p.m. ET on Saturday with a broadcast slated for the SEC Network.