The Tennessee Vols’ loss to the Georgia State Panthers on Saturday was easily the worst loss in program history.

There were very few positives to glean from the Vols’ season opener. It was pretty much all bad, except for the play of wide receiver Jauan Jennings, who often looked like the only player on the field who cared about the outcome of the game.

After a less than lackluster performance, every position should be up for grabs.

Including quarterback.

Tennessee Vols

I’ve been pretty positive when it comes to Jarrett Guarantano in recent years. I think he’s a great kid, who exhibits toughness on a weekly basis. I also think he’s worked hard to improve and become a better leader.

But he isn’t the answer at quarterback for Tennessee. Guarantano still looks like the same player that made his first career start against South Carolina in 2017. The hard work hasn’t translated to progress for Guarantano. Essentially, I think he’s hit his ceiling. And his ceiling isn’t good enough to carry a program that desperately needs a star at the quarterback position.

Now, don’t get it twisted. Guarantano did enough for the Vols to beat Georgia State.

Was he great, or even good, against the Panthers?

No, he wasn’t.

But it’s Georgia State. Tennessee is a way more talented team than Georgia State. The Vols should’ve been able to cruise to victory even with average or subpar quarterback play. It’s clear the Vols’ issues run deeper than just the quarterback position, but there still needs to be improved play at the most important position on the field.

Tennessee needs a quarterback with the “it” factor

Guarantano simply doesn’t have the killer instinct needed to lead a program in the SEC.

And it showed on Saturday against Georgia State.

On a crucial 2nd-and-6 situation, Guarantano slid a yard or two short of the first down.

A quarterback with the “it” factor would’ve fought for every single yard possible to ensure the first down. Vol fans watched Josh Dobbs do it for four years on Rocky Top.

Guarantano never looked comfortable on Saturday against Georgia State. He never had a good feel for the game. He often rushed through progressions, or sometimes never even looked at more than one wide receiver. That type of play didn’t get the job done against a group-of-five team. Imagine how bad it would be against a SEC team.

Moving forward, I don’t know if JT Shrout or Brian Maurer are the answer at quarterback for Tennessee. But I absolutely believe they deserve a shot to lead the Vols.

A loss to Georgia State should erase any previous equity built by players in the program. I don’t care what Guarantano did during spring practice or during fall camp. What he put on tape in the season opener is all that matters.

It’s time for a change, because the decisions made in week one clearly didn’t work.

And if Pruitt doesn’t decide to make a change, he might as well start working on his resumé.

Featured image via Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports

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