The Tennessee Vols’ quarterback room is a bit banged up as the team enters the final month of the 2019 regular season.
Redshirt freshman JT Shrout (who would’ve received his first career start in the win against South Carolina if not for Jauan Jennings taking the first snap) is the lone “healthy” scholarship quarterback on the roster.
However, true freshman Brian Maurer and redshirt junior Jarrett Guarantano, while not 100 percent at the moment, will both be “ready to go” against UAB on Saturday night.
Maurer has been cleared after suffering a head injury (his second of the season) against Alabama two weeks ago.
Guarantano, who played extremely well against South Carolina, had surgery earlier this week on his non-throwing hand. The New Jersey native had a screw inserted into his wrist/hand.
On Wednesday, all three quarterbacks practiced. Vols head coach Jeremy Pruitt told reporters that Shrout took 50 percent of the snaps, with Maurer taking 40 percent and Guarantano taking 10 percent. Pruitt said the reason for the lack of practice snaps for Guarantano had less to do with his hand and more to do with the fact that he doesn’t need as many reps as the younger guys.
When Pruitt was asked which direction he plans to go at the quarterback position against UAB, he was quick to point out that he hasn’t decided yet.
Jeremy Pruitt said all three QBs are cleared to play and “ready to go” for Saturday.
“How we play them, we still have not decided yet.”
— David Ubben (@davidubben) October 30, 2019
I think Pruitt needs to go into the matchup against the Blazers planning to play all three of his quarterbacks. I don’t think this is a sustainable plan. But for the rest of the season, I actually think this is what’s best for the Vols.
Now, I don’t think Tennessee needs to be reckless with this. They don’t need to play three quarterbacks just for the sake of playing three quarterbacks. Essentially, I think the game flow and Jim Chaney’s play calling should determine which quarterback plays.
I also think the Vols need to go with the hot hand. We’re still talking about a veteran quarterback who has been very inconsistent this year and two young quarterbacks who don’t have a lot of experience. If Maurer starts to struggle, then Shrout and Guarantano will be prepared and ready to go.
Playing all three quarterbacks will also keep the opposing defense on their heels. Each of Tennessee’s signal callers plays the game a different way.
Of course, it could also be said that playing three quarterbacks will hinder the Vols from settling into an offensive rhythm. And that could be true. That’s why I think this plan should be fluid for Tennessee. If Pruitt sees early that playing Guarantano isn’t working, then he has to be willing to adapt. That’s the only way this will work.
By the way, playing all three quarterbacks the rest of the season will give the Vols a better chance at holding on to both Maurer and Shrout (it’s possible if one of them feels they’ve been pushed out, that they could seek a transfer). We’ve seen this season how important quarterback depth can be. UT needs to make sure they have adequate quarterback depth heading into next season — they can’t afford to lose multiple scholarship quarterbacks.
This plan might seen unconventional, but for now it seems like the best approach for Pruitt and the Volunteers.
Featured image via Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports