The Tennessee Vols’ offense has to get better in 2021 or the program is going to continue to hang out at the bottom of the SEC East.
Tennessee is averaging 20.1 points a game this season, which is No. 109 in the nation.
That’s not going to lead to many wins in the SEC.
The Vols’ offense has been so bad that it’s led to some unflattering comments from rival SEC assistants.
“They’re terrible on offense,” an SEC assistant said. “It’s brutal to watch. It’s all about that one spot [quarterback] that’s just so bad.”
Redshirt senior quarterback Jarrett Guarantano has been terrible this season. And Vols head coach Jeremy Pruitt has been unwilling to give anyone else a shot (outside of a few series here and there).
Part of the reason the Vols’ quarterback situation is in this position is because of the job that Chris Weinke has done as UT’s quarterbacks coach.
Or maybe should I say the job he hasn’t done.
Tennessee has a serious quarterback development problem. Guarantano hasn’t progressed at all over the last couple of years. Neither have redshirt sophomore JT Shrout or sophomore Brian Maurer. Weinke absolutely has to go after this season. Or Pruitt can kiss his job goodbye after 2021 (if it doesn’t happen sooner).
The big question anytime a staff move is mentioned is who the next hire would be.
Hiring a quarterbacks coach can be tricky. The best hires are usually under-the-radar names that seemingly come out of nowhere. That’s because a good quarterbacks coach usually climbs the coaching ladder quickly.
However, I think I’ve found a coach that Pruitt could hire that could have a Joe Brady-like impact on the Vols’ offense (Brady was an offensive analyst for the New Orleans Saints when he was hired as LSU’s passing game coordinator. He then went on to help the Tigers achieve historic success on offense in 2019, before landing a job as the Carolina Panthers’ offensive coordinator).
Kansas City Chiefs passing game analyst/assistant quarterbacks coach Joe Bleymaier.
Completely off the radar, right?
Bleymaier probably has a future as an NFL offensive coordinator down the road, but Pruitt should get in touch with him and try to bring him to Knoxville to serve as Tennessee’s quarterbacks coach/passing game coordinator before he becomes a household name.
The Chiefs have one of the best offenses in the NFL. And Bleymaier, who played college football at Delaware and spent time on Colorado’s staff from 2013-2015, plays a significant role in Kansas City’s offense.
Here’s what Chiefs head coach Andy Reid said in November about Bleymaier’s role in the offense (via Arrowheadpride.com).
“I got Joe Bleymaier here who does all the behind the scenes with all that,” Reid explained. “He spends a tremendous amount of time going through everything from high school to college to the pros and gathering ideas and whether we rearrange the play or sneak it into our playbook as is, but it stimulates. It’s something that keeps you alive and current and then also helps on the defensive side knowing what’s coming forward and the progression of offensives in this league. I give a lot of credit to him and how he goes about that and the amount of hours he spends there.”
These are the types of innovative hires that college coaches who have a lot of success are making. Pruitt needs to go outside the box (and outside of his comfort zone) and bring someone in like Bleymaier to get Tennessee’s offense to where it needs to be.
Offensive coordinator Jim Chaney likely isn’t going anywhere. Pairing Bleymaier with Chaney, however, could lead the Vols to have success like LSU had with offensive coordinator Steve Ensminger and Brady in 2019.
Pruitt needs to be bold this offseason. Hiring Bleymaier would be a good start.
Featured image via Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports