The Tennessee Vols are 2-2 right now because of bad quarterback play.
It feels like 2019 all over again.
Redshirt senior Jarrett Guarantano is proving to be the same quarterback that we’ve seen the last several seasons. And no one on the bench appears to be ready.
Redshirt sophomore JT Shrout got a shot on Saturday against Kentucky and he threw an interception on his first drive.
Sophomore Brian Maurer has become an afterthought. And true freshman Harrison Bailey still needs more reps (which is understandable, because of the pandemic).
The fact that Tennessee doesn’t have a capable quarterback right now is a total coaching failure. And it falls squarely on Chris Weinke.
Weinke, who was initially hired as the Vols’ running backs coach but switched to quarterbacks before the 2019 season, is one of the all-time great college quarterbacks. He won a Heisman Trophy at Florida State and was the ACC player of the year in 2000.
But as a coach, Weinke hasn’t been good.
Weinke served as the Los Angeles Rams’ quarterbacks coach in 2015/2016 and was absolutely blasted by Hall of Famer Eric Dickerson for the job he did with quarterback Jared Goff.
Here’s what Dickerson had to say about Weinke in 2016 while discussing Goff and Weinke (via ESPN):
“SHOW ME THE PROOF,” DICKERSON SAID. “SHOW ME YOUR HISTORY. WHAT HISTORY DO YOU HAVE WORKING WITH QUARTERBACKS, DEVELOPING QUARTERBACKS? THEN I CAN BELIEVE. AND I JUST BELIEVE THAT THEY DON’T HAVE THE RIGHT COACHES IN PLACE FOR HIM, AND THAT’S WHAT IT COMES DOWN TO.
Goff’s career took off once Weinke was out of town.
I’m sure that’s not a coincidence.
For whatever reason, Weinke hasn’t been able to develop Tennessee’s quarterbacks. Guarantano is the exact same quarterback in 2020 that he was in 2018. The same issues in 2018 — accuracy and lack of consistency — are still his biggest problems in 2020. Weinke hasn’t fixed anything.
Add that to the fact that Shrout and Maurer, who each have a couple of years of experience now, aren’t ready and it’s clear that Weinke has been stealing money from Tennessee.
Look, I know Shrout and Maurer are both former three-star quarterbacks. Neither player was recruited to Tennessee to be the savior of the program. But I think we’ve seen from other programs in the SEC that three-star quarterbacks can be capable starters. You don’t have to be a Heisman Trophy candidate to lead a team to success.
Weinke is failing. And it’s costing Tennessee wins.
Vols head coach Jeremy Pruitt has to move on from Weinke after this season. If he’s back on the sidelines in 2021, then the quarterback position is going to continue to be a major issue for Tennessee.
And without a quarterback, Pruitt will be in a sinking ship with little hope of finding land.
Featured image via Tennessee Athletic Communications