I’ve never been a head coach in any capacity (little league assistant coach is where my coaching career has topped out), so I don’t have a lot of relevant advice to offer Tennessee Vols head coach Jeremy Pruitt.
But I do have one little suggestion that might help him — don’t repeat the mistakes previous Vols head coach Butch Jones made.
The road Pruitt is currently traveling down is eerily similar to the one Jones traveled down in 2013/14.
In Jones’ first couple of seasons, it was abundantly clear that quarterback Justin Worley had reached his ceiling. And his ceiling wasn’t as a SEC quarterback.
But Jones didn’t feel comfortable with the other quarterbacks on the roster — Nathan Peterman and Josh Dobbs.
That was a mistake….at least when it came to Dobbs.
As it turned out, Dobbs was the best quarterback on the roster. Had he been the quarterback for the duration of the 2014 season, the Vols probably beat Florida and Georgia.
Pruitt is in the same situation in 2019 with Jarrett Guarantano. It’s obvious that Guarantano has hit his ceiling and, like Worley, he’s not a SEC quarterback.
Of course, no one knows if JT Shrout or Brian Maurer are any better. There’s no way to know unless they play.
But Pruitt doesn’t appear to have any intentions of giving either of his young quarterbacks a chance to show if they’re any better.
The second year Vols head coach told reporters on Monday that there’s “no question” that Guarantano is the best quarterback on the roster.
Jeremy Pruitt: “If you’ve been around our program the past six months, there’s no question who our best quarterback is.” #Vols
— Eric Cain (@_Cainer) September 9, 2019
Maybe that’s true. But I don’t think anyone, not even Pruitt, can know for sure unless the other quarterbacks to get to play in an actual game.
Dobbs was a notoriously bad practice player. He was an afterthought in 2013. He was buried on the depth chart beneath Worley, Peterman and even Riley Ferguson at one point.
But when Dobbs got a chance, he shined. And he led the program to back to back nine win seasons (that would’ve otherwise been disastrous without him).
At this point, Pruitt has nothing to lose by giving Shrout and Maurer a shot on Saturday against Chattanooga. But he has everything to lose by sticking with Guarantano.
Pruitt can’t afford a two or three win season. I personally think he deserves time to turn things things around, but I’m not sure the decision makers at Tennessee will agree.
Coaches learn a lot from their own mistakes. But they can also learn a lot from the mistakes of others.
Pruitt needs to look at the way Jones handled a similar situation and do the opposite.
Because if he makes the same choices Jones made, he might suffer the same fate.
Featured image via Times Free Press/USA Today