CFB analyst Greg McElroy has rational take on Tennessee QB Nico Iamaleava's prominence to win titles

Greg McElroy has said that Nico Iamaleava could be the difference at Tennessee
Greg McElroy has said that Nico Iamaleava could be the difference at Tennessee

The Tennessee Volunteers have had two contrasting seasons under two different quarterbacks. In 2022, Hendon Hooker helped the Volunteers to a historic victory over the Georgia Bulldogs, which made Tennessee, for at least one week, the best team in the country. During 2023, with Joe Milton at the helm, the Volunteers struggled and ended the year with a still-respectable 9-4 record.

2024 brings another quarterback as the starter for Tennessee. Nico Iamaleava, who spent most of the 2023 season as a backup to Milton, will now have his chance.

College football analyst Greg McElroy has given his take on whether Nico Iamaleava's presence will improve the Volunteers offense.

"You could almost pin all of Tennessee’s inconsistencies on the passing game," McElroy, a former quarterback for the Alabama Crimson Tide.
"So, with a slightly improved passer – assuming Nico Iamaleava is – and a running game that’s going to continue to be dynamic, and a defense that has shown to be really solid, Tennessee could definitely challenge at the top of the league. And yet, nobody really has them in that discussion right now."

The Volunteers have a talented set of receivers. Bru McCoy, Squirrel White and Chris Brazzell II, a recent arrival from Tulane, all have the ability to become powerful wide receivers.

However, a wide receiver cannot do his job if the quarterback is struggling to deliver. Tennessee has had this problem recently under Joe Milton, where the average yardage fell by 80 yards a game compared to Hendon Hooker's time as QB.

Nico Iamaleava will want to reverse this pattern, as Greg McElroy thinks that he will be able to. In the one game that Iamaleava played (last season's Citrus Bowl), while he only threw for 151 yards, he was involved in four touchdowns.

The Tennessee offense will be highly dependent on Iamaleava for success. From what has been seen so far, he may be able to rise to the challenge and bring victory back to Rocky Top.

Read More: "I think they are underrated": CFB analyst Josh Pate makes bold prediction about Tennessee as a 'big time sleeper in the SEC'

Can Nico Iamaleava and Tennessee compete in the SEC?

Greg McElroy also commented on whether Tennessee can compete in a highly competitive Southeastern Conference.

"But there’s not a whole lot of discussion about what Tennessee might ultimately be," McElroy said. "And if their quarterback play skyrockets, they could be as dangerous a team as there is in the Southeastern Conference.”

Tennessee could become a dark horse to win the SEC. With the attention on the Georgia Bulldogs, Alabama Crimson Tide and Texas Longhorns, few are considering any other team to win.

So, the pressure will be off Nico Iamaleava and the Tennessee Volunteers.

This, combined with strong talent on both sides of the ball makes the Volunteers not only an entertaining team to watch, but gives them an opportunity to cause an upset and potentially win, or at least make, the SEC championship game.

However, all of this will depend on how Nico Iamaleava plays. If the QB can hold his nerve and be successful, Tennessee’s chances of winning the conference will get a little bit bigger. If he struggles, the Volunteers will not be competitive, and any potential that they have will be lost.

Do you think that Nico Iamaleava can lead the Tennessee Volunteers to victory this season?

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