Tennessee’s Joe Milton wearing a helmet decal to honor the Virginia football team in 2022. Photo By Andrew Ferguson/Tennessee Athletics.
Two Tennessee players received weekly SEC honors on Monday following the first game of the Vols’ 2023 football season.
Tennessee quarterback Joe Milton III claimed the SEC’s Co-Offensive Player of the Week honor while Vols defensive lineman Tyler Baron took sole possession of the SEC’s Defensive Lineman of the Week title.
Milton shares the Co-Offensive POTW honor with Alabama’s redshirt sophomore quarterback Jalen Milroe. Tennessee was one of three teams with two different players receiving an honor following the first week of competition.
In addition to Milroe, Alabama DB Caleb Downs was named the Co-Freshman of the Week. Kentucky had inside linebacker Trevin Wallace named Defensive Player of the Week and WR Barion Brown named Co-Special Teams Player of the Week.
Leading the Tennessee offense to start the season for the first time since 2021, Milton directed Tennessee to six scoring drives on the day and accounted for four of those touchdowns himself. The third-year Tennessee quarterback threw for 201 yards and two touchdowns on 21-of-30 passing and added in two touchdowns and 33 yards on the ground.
Milton accounted for 234 total yards on the day including a nine-yard swing pass touchdown to Dylan Sampson and an 11-yard downfield strike to tight end Jacob Warren.
“I thought during the course of the ball game, on the video too, thought the decision-making, where his eyes were at was really solid throughout the course of the football game,” head coach Josh Heupel said about Milton on Monday.
Joe had options but made the easy play 😂
📲 https://t.co/hoxGZN5rIU pic.twitter.com/eqmRiM44Y0
— Tennessee Football (@Vol_Football) September 2, 2023
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Baron, on the other hand, was a force for Tennessee on the defensive line. The Knoxville native ended the game with two sacks and two-and-a-half tackles for loss.
Baron’s first sack of the day came on third down to shut down the Cavaliers’ first drive of the second half. Virginia won the toss before the game and elected to receive the ball in the second half. Baron, though, made sure the Cavs wouldn’t be moving anywhere.
Baron then recorded his second sack during Virginia’s first drive of the fourth quarter, this time taking down Cavs’ quarterback Tony Muskett on first down to drop Virginia back to 2nd and 14. The Cavaliers would go on to punt just two plays later.
“And our guys have bought into how to compete on every single snap, so you put scheme, coaching, physical development in the weight room and depth, and it allows us to be more aggressive on that side of football,” Heupel said about the defensive side of the ball on Saturday.
Tennessee will host Austin Peay on Saturday evening in Knoxville.