Tennessee Vols head coach Jeremy Pruitt made it clear before the start of the season that Jarett Guarantano would be UT’s starting quarterback in 2019.
Less than halfway through the season, however, Guarantano lost his starting job to true freshman Brian Maurer.
Pruitt made the change after Guarantano struggled with his accuracy and decision making.
Despite being benched, Guarantano didn’t quit on his team. He continued to work and eventually won his starting job back. Along the way, Guarantano played a key part in several of Tennessee’s wins that he didn’t start.
During the Vols’ current four game winning streak, Guarantano has tossed for 906 yards, seven touchdowns and only one interception.
So what was the reason for Guarantano’s early season struggles?
According to Pruitt, Guarantano likely struggled because he was in a new offensive system.
It seems like a simple explanation, but it makes a lot of sense. As Pruitt pointed out, Guarantano is a smart kid who picked up the system quickly. But there’s a difference in understanding the system and executing within the system.
Pruitt: Maybe we took a little too much for granted at the beginning of the year. Jarrett is a very bright guy and he picked up this system really fast and we had a lot of confidence in him, but you know it’s still his first year in this system. He’s learned, we’ve learned as coaches and we’ve all improved because of it.
It’s obvious that Guarantano has looked much more comfortable in Jim Chaney’s offense as the season has progressed. The redshirt junior quarterback has been through a lot of change during his time in Knoxville (four different offensive coordinators in four years). Expecting him to light up the stat sheet at the start of the season probably wasn’t fair.
While Guarantano had plenty of practice time in Chaney’s system before the start of the season, there’s no substitute for game reps. Now that Guarantano has some experience with Chaney on game days, it’s translating to success.
Guarantano recently suggested that he will return to Tennessee for his senior season in 2020. A veteran quarterback playing in his second year in Chaney’s system could lead to an incredibly successful season for the Vols.
Featured image via Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports