Tennessee is closing in on the Orange and White Game on Saturday, and coach Josh Heupel sees it as an opportunity for his players to compete, and his quarterbacks to take the next step their offseason development process.

“I think operationally, they’ve come light years from when we first started as a group, understanding the communication process, the tempo that we want to play at,” Heupel said after Saturday’s latest scrimmage. “Within that tempo, being able to have control of the game. I think as we finish this next week, they should be able to make another jump.”

All three experienced quarterbacks, Hendon Hooker, Harrison Bailey and Brian Maurer, took snaps with the first team throughout the day as they learn the up-tempo offense that’s a trademark of Heupel’s teams.

“All of them have made some big time plays down the field,” the coach said. “They’ve taken care of the football for the most part throughout spring ball, but it’s a group that has got to continue to grow and push here as we finish up this week in spring ball and as we compete in that position in June and July before we get back to training camp.”

Overall, he’s been pleased with player development.

“I think a lot of our mechanics, for being this early in the process, I love where we’re at,” he said. “These scrimmages are critical because it is truly a game. I thought today, really, there were very few things that were noticeable during the course of play that I had an issue with. I think that speaks to those kids’ buy-in and their ability to be coached and learn not just be corrected themselves but learn from a teammate as well.”

Kickoff for next Saturday’s Orange & White Game is 4 p.m. ET. Admission is free. Gates open at 2:30 p.m.

“It’s an opportunity for them in a real, live situation to go earn trust from their teammates and their coaching staff as well to go prove that they are able to compete at a championship level,” Heupel said. “I’m excited that we get to have the state of Tennessee and Vol Nation here inside of this stadium. It’s going to be a great day, and I look forward to seeing everyone there.”