The Tennessee Vols came up short against the Georgia Bulldogs in Neyland Stadium on Saturday night, but one thing was clear after the loss — true freshman Brian Maurer should be UT’s starting quarterback moving forward.
Maurer was put in a tough spot for his first career start. Georgia is easily one of the best teams in the country, but Maurer looked like a poised veteran directing the offense. As a result, the offense played with the most energy and passion we’ve seen all season. They were overmatched thanks to the size and speed of the Bulldogs, but it was obvious that Maurer is a better option for Tennessee than previous starter Jarrett Guarantano.
After the game, however, Vols head coach Jeremy Pruitt wasn’t ready to anoint Maurer as the starter for Tennessee’s matchup next weekend against Mississippi State.
Pruitt told reporters that he’d have to watch the film before deciding who will start the next game.
“I’ll have to watch film, I don’t know. I thought Brian competed really hard. I thought Jarrett did
a nice job when he was in there. It was good for both of them. It was good for our football
As you can imagine, the social media response to that quote wasn’t positive.
There were plenty of fans who were quick to question how in the world Pruitt couldn’t know who should be the starter after Maurer’s performance.
But I don’t think fans should be upset at all.
I think there’s a less than zero chance that Guarantano starts next week against Mississippi State. And I think Pruitt knew immediately after the loss that Maurer is the guy moving forward.
But there was zero reason to anoint Maurer as the starter last night.
For starters, Maurer didn’t win the game. He didn’t play exceptionally well in the second half, either (he didn’t play bad, but Georgia was able to keep him in check). At the end of the day, while Maurer looked good, the Vols still lost the game. And I don’t think Pruitt is in the business of handing out starting jobs immediately after a loss.
Another thing folks need to remember is that Maurer didn’t necessarily “win the job”. Guarantano more or less lost the job because of his poor play through the season’s first four games. That means Maurer will need to continue to perform well in practice, and out perform Guarantano, to keep the job. He’s not going to just be handed the job. Pruitt wants to ensure there’s still competition in practice.
Quarterbacks are better when they’re being pushed. Maurer needs to be pushed by Guarantano (and JT Shrout).
I understand that fans want some reassurance that Maurer is the guy moving forward, but there was zero reason for Pruitt to make that designation last night.
Featured image via Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports