Should Jarrett Guarantano be the starting quarterback for the Tennessee Vols?
That’s a debate that’s been raging on Rocky Top — in some form or fashion — since 2017.
Guarantano is now a redshirt senior and there’s still no clear answer to the question.
The New Jersey native helped the Vols achieve an eight-game winning streak that stretched from 2019 into 2020. But he also likely cost the program wins against Georgia State and BYU last season.
It could be argued that Tennessee’s record would’ve been better or worse without JG in 2019. It’s a paradox that has split the Vol fan base into three sectors:
- The pro-Guarantano crowd
- The play anyone else crowd
- The I don’t have a clue at this point crowd
Vols head coach Jeremy Pruitt is decidedly in the pro-Guarantano crowd. Pruitt has repeatedly stated that JG gives Tennessee the best chance to win.
“Jarrett is our quarterback. He gives us the best opportunity to have success,” said Pruitt earlier this week.
If that’s truly the case, then it’s a terrible indictment of the skills of the other quarterbacks on UT’s roster.
PFF rankings aren’t kind to Jarrett Guarantano
Pro Football Focus ranked all 14 SEC starting quarterbacks this week and they put Guarantano near the very bottom of the list.
Guarantano ranked No. 13 in PFF’s rankings.
Here’s what they had to say about the embattled Tennessee quarterback.
The biggest negative of Guarantano’s collegiate career has always been his accuracy, and this year has been no different. He has thrown a quarterback-fault incompletion on 18% of his throws this year, which is nearly 3.5 percentage points more than any of the quarterbacks on this list. Guarantano has also made a far higher rate of bad decisions — his 2.8% turnover-worthy play rate from 2019 ranked 25th in the FBS and has nearly doubled to start 2020.
That’s unacceptable for an SEC quarterback at a program that is expecting to compete for division titles.
There are five former three-star quarterbacks ahead of Guarantano in PFF’s rankings (Mac Jones, Kyle Trask, Stetson Bennett, Terry Wilson, and Collin Hill). The only former five-star quarterback in the rankings is Auburn’s Bo Nix. It’s clear that other programs are getting by with less-than-elite talent at the quarterback position.
If sophomore Brian Maurer or redshirt sophomore JT Shrout still aren’t “ready” at this point, then it means Tennessee failed tremendously in their evaluations. It could also mean that UT quarterbacks coach Chris Weinke isn’t doing a good job of developing quarterbacks.
(Side note: I understand not wanting to throw true freshman Harrison Bailey into the mix just yet, thanks to the unusual offseason.)
Guarantano might give the Vols their best chance at success. I’m not going to doubt Pruitt, who has way more football knowledge than I’ll ever possess. But it’s clear from the numbers that JG isn’t an SEC caliber starting quarterback. And the fact that Tennessee doesn’t have a better option is a problem.
Pruitt and his staff need to figure out a solution to the Vols’ quarterback situation in a hurry.
Because until they do, this is a team going nowhere fast.
Featured image via Tennessee Athletic Communications