What looked to be a promising season for the Tennessee Volunteers is quickly falling apart, and now the team has a full-fledged quarterback controversy to deal with.
The Volunteers benched starter Jarrett Guarantano in the second quarter after he turned the ball over on three consecutive drives. Two of those turnovers were pick-sixes. However, Guarantano’s replacement failed to stand out. Sophomore J.T. Shrout immediately threw another interception, and Guarantano was promptly put back in the game.
After the 34-7 loss, coach Jeremy Pruitt admitted that the coaching staff would assess the quarterback situation going forward.
“It’s undecided,” Pruitt said, via Adam Rittenberg of ESPN. “When you lose 34-7, everybody within our organization, you’ve got to look and see what went wrong. We could make changes at any level.”
Guarantano, a senior, has made 29 starts at quarterback for the Vols. It’s not as if his struggles are down to inexperience. The two interceptions on consecutive drives will definitely raise alarm bells after he threw only eight all of last season.
The reality is the Volunteers might lack a better option right now. Harrison Bailey is a four-star recruit, but he is still a true freshman and simply may not be ready to start. Sophomore Brian Maurer, who started four games in 2019, missed much of preseason with a hamstring injury and COVID-19 quarantine. Pruitt said he is still lagging behind the rest of the team as a result.
To be clear, Tennessee’s issues aren’t solely the fault of Guarantano. The team has struggled defensively, and has also been plagued by bad discipline on several occasions.