In a not-so-stunning turn of events, the Tennessee Vols’ passionate fan base is divided.

After yet another loss to Will Muschamp and the South Carolina Gamecocks (Muschamp is 7-0 in his career against the Vols, while South Carolina has now won three straight over the Orange White), fans need someone to blame.

Predictably, quarterback Jarrett Guarantano received the most criticism. All season long, a contingent of fans have called for graduate transfer Keller Chryst to start in place of the redshirt sophomore quarterback.

While Guarantano isn’t a flawless quarterback — he still has statuesque qualities within the pocket that are downright puzzling given his athletic ability — Jeremy Pruitt made the right decision this past Saturday to keep him in the game.

Some Tennessee fans might not like hearing that, especially since the Vols’ passing offense comprised mainly of short, quick throws on Saturday, which juxtaposes the idea that Chryst is a quarterback who opens up the field and makes the game more “exciting” offensively.

However, this idea goes against the fundamental reason behind what an offensive gameplan is supposed to be.

Offensive game plans are not designed for style points. They’re designed to find success against the weaknesses of opposing defenses. Against Auburn, Tennessee’s passing attempt was able to exploit and weakness in the Tigers’ cornerbacks. Against South Carolina, the Vols attacked the Gamecock defense with a series of quick, short throws.

The results were largely successful. Guarantano completed 69 percent of his passes and threw two touchdown passes. While it wasn’t as aesthetically impressive as his performance against Auburn, Guarantano’s job is to follow the plan. Had he decided to rebel against the instruction of offensive coordinator Tyson Helton, the redshirt sophomore likely would’ve been benched.

And it’s not like Guarantano didn’t make impressive throws against South Carolina:

Even if the throws are simple, Helton clearly wanted Guarantano to throw quick for two primary reasons — Avoid holding the ball too long behind a shaky offensive line and get the ball to the team’s playmakers as quickly as possible:

These throws aren’t “sexy.” They won’t move the needle and convince a pro-Keller Chryst fan that Guarantano is the answer at quarterback, but Jeremy Pruitt seems to believe Tennessee has its quarterback of the near future and distant future, and it’s the right call.

Photo courtesy of Jeff Blake via USA Today Sports

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