The Tennessee Vols have a massive quarterback problem on their hands.
Redshirt senior Jarrett Guarantano isn’t the answer. You know it. I know it. Everyone in East Tennessee knows it.
And I’m sure Vols head coach Jeremy Pruitt knows it as well, even though he seems determined to stick with Guarantano for the rest of the season.
Pruitt told reporters on Monday that he’s not ready to put Guarantano “on the shelf”, despite his poor play in Tennessee’s loss to the Kentucky Wildcats this past weekend.
“I think the guy has a lot of really good qualities about him,” said Pruitt when asked about Guarantano. “He’s helped us win a lot of football games.”
Every time Pruitt was asked about Guarantano, he seemed to deflect criticism to the rest of the team.
“Did he make a few mistakes, Saturday? Sure he did, but I think everybody on our football team and organization all could have done better starting with me,” explained Pruitt. “This isn’t about one person. It is about everybody within our program and everybody within our program understands that.”
Some folks could view this as “coddling” Guarantano a bit. And maybe it is.
But mostly I think this is Pruitt publicly protecting one of his players. JG is taking a lot of heat on social media. Regardless of what happens on the field on Saturdays, Guarantano is still one of Pruitt’s players. There’s zero benefit to Pruitt going in front of reporters and slamming Guarantano.
Everyone knows that Pruitt is a demanding coach. I’m sure there are plenty of tough conversations happening behind closed doors.
Publicly, though, Pruitt comes off as having his players’ backs — even during rough times.
That’s a valuable tool when it comes to recruiting. Ultimately, that’s what really matters. Players know if they come to Tennessee, they aren’t going to get publicly slammed when they struggle.
Now, with all the said, it’s time for Pruitt to move on from Guarantano. After the first four games of the season, it’s clear that JG has hit his ceiling.
It’s time for another quarterback to get a chance. That might mean some mistakes/turnovers happen.
But the Vols are just going to have to deal with that if they want the program to finally take the next step.
Featured image via Tennessee Athletic Communications