Josh Heupel’s Tennessee offense has taken a slight step back from last season, at least so far to start the 2023 campaign.

But that’s expected, right? After all, it’s not like the Vols’ production has fallen off a cliff; it’s just noticeably less oiled without stars such as Darnell Wright along the offensive line, Jalin Hyatt out of the slot and of course Hendon Hooker under center.

It’s a long season. And Heupel knows that.

On Wednesday during the SEC’s weekly coaches teleconference, Heupel focused on a specific aspect of the offense that was supposed to be a major strength for the Vols in 2023: the wide receiver corps.

And it’s safe to say that the Vols’ receivers have dropped the ball thus far. Literally. Good, not great performances against Virginia were followed up with a slew of dreadful performances against Austin Peay, including many drops.

In fairness, Milton’s inability to push the ball downfield didn’t give them much of a shot past the first half. But that doesn’t mean they’re doomed to do this all season.

For Heupel, it’s quite the opposite. He knows what they’re capable of and doesn’t think a few drops will derail that.

Here’s what he had to say about his group of pass-catchers as they stand heading into Week 3 against the Florida Gators.

“I thought they’ve been really good out on the perimeter. I thought they play extremely hard, for the most part we’ve played with good fundamentals. There were a couple holding calls last week and one of them was probably real. But I thought they’ve been really good out there and we’re going to continue to need that as we go. We see that as an extension of our run game. In route running, they’ve been really pretty solid. End of the day, there’s some things that we need to clean up as quarterbacks and wide receivers, but we’re certainly capable of it and this group of guys really do it at a high level. … Few dropped balls last week and we’ve got to clean that up, but believe in these guys and know that they’re capable of. We’ve just got to settle in, last week early in the football game didn’t think we were settled into the game very well and that’ll be big on the road in this environment against this type of opponent.”

We find out who Tennessee really is this weekend in The Swamp. The Vols travel to Gainesville to take on a struggling Florida team that has owned the Vols at home for the past few decades.

The game is set to kick at 7 p.m. ET on ESPN.