In weeks 1 and 2, Tennessee had issues all over the board, from quarterback troubles to a lack luster defense and everything in between. While Tennessee is far from being the complete SEC team they deserve to be, as we wrap up week 4, the QB issue is becoming more apparent.
To no surprise, Jarrent Guarantano was the starting QB coming into the game against no 9 Florida.
In the first half, Guarantano was 8/15 with 73 passing yards and 2 INT. Guarantano killed a TD with one of those INTs and missed an absolutely wide open chip shot for a TD.
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If even one of the aforementioned plays went for a TD coming into the second half 7-17 against no. 9 Florida would have felt much better than 0-17.
As we moved into the second half, Pruitt decided to roll with true freshman Brian Maurer.
Despite my bias against true freshman – I tend to think they should have a backseat to more experienced players 90% of the time – I like the decision to move on from Guarantano.
When Maurer came into the mix, he appeared to come out pretty confident and got the Vols into field goal range in his first drive. Later in the 3rd Maurer threw an INT that absolutely killed any momentum they had when trailing 3-24.
Fortunately for him Tennessee’s defense came up big with an INT a few plays later.
Back to Guarantano
At the end of the third Maurer was 4/11 on 44 yards and was replaced with Guarantano who didn’t accomplish much the rest of the game. He ended the game 10-17 with 107 yards and 2 INT (total).
I think playing Maurer in the second was a good move by Pruitt and he probably should have left him in. Instead, Pruitt threw Guarantano back in which diminished both QB’s confidence and prevented either of them from getting into a groove. I don’t think it really mattered in this game, but Pruitt should have stuck to his guns to try and get some consistency.
Now, there is great uncertainty in the state of the Tennessee quarterback. If Maurer is going to be named QB1, Tennessee would be led by a true freshman, which is not ideal except or a few edge cases (*cough Trever Lawrence *cough). I doubt Pruitt would do it and I think most true freshman lack the experience needed to be successful leaders and adapt on the fly, but Tennessee might need something to shake things up.
However, if Pruitt keeps his trust in Guarantano, then they are signing up for more mediocrity.