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Tennessee Athletics photo by Andrew Ferguson / Tennessee guard Javontez Spraggins (76) protects quarterback Joe Milton during Tuesday's scrimmage inside a rainy Neyland Stadium.

If someone has taken a noticeable step forward in becoming Tennessee's first starting quarterback of the Josh Heupel era, Heupel isn't revealing it.

The Volunteers held their second preseason scrimmage on a rainy Tuesday morning inside Neyland Stadium. Heupel described it as the last major scrimmage before the Sept. 2 opener against visiting Bowling Green but not the last piece of development, which certainly includes the position always under a microscope.

"When we see separation and are ready to say something, we'll do that," Heupel said in a news conference. "That group has continued to compete and handle things the right way. I like the growth of that group from day to day."

Michigan graduate transfer Joe Milton, Virginia Tech grad transfer Hendon Hooker and sophomore Harrison Bailey, who started Tennessee's final three games last year, have been vying to take the inaugural snap of the season. Heupel did not have an update on redshirt sophomore Brian Maurer, who was not spotted at practice last Wednesday and did not compete in last Thursday's initial scrimmage.

Tuesday's scrimmage was closed to the media.

Heupel seemed much more satisfied with the offense's performance compared to last Thursday, claiming the quarterbacks threw the ball efficiently, the running backs ran with good pad level and that the line showed improvement in getting lined up for the next snap and creating good vertical movement.

Preseason concerns, according to Heupel, usually stem from one side of the ball dominating the other, but he described Tuesday as "good give and take with growth on both sides." He had no complaints about the weather, either.

"When you wake up on game day, you've got to play in the elements you've got," Heupel said. "We will play in a rain game, so your mindset on offense, defense and special teams is that, 'This is the right weather for us to go out and execute.' It has no bearing on who we are and what we do and how we do it."

The Vols will take Wednesday off, with Thursday signifying the two-week mark until the season opener.

"It's about finding the guys who you trust at this point," Heupel said. "It's never just about 11 guys. It's about having as many guys who are going to prove that they can play at a high enough level to help you go win and finding roles for them."

Contact David Paschall at dpaschall@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6524.

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