Jeremy Pruitt explains decision to start freshman QB Brian Maurer against Georgia
Tennessee’s offseason hire of offensive coordinator Jim Chaney was supposed to help the play of redshirt junior quarterback Jarrett Guarantano. Instead, the opposite has occurred and the veteran signal-caller has regressed on the field this season for the Vols.
The situation has gotten so bad that Tennessee is switching gears under center following the team’s bye week and plans to start true freshman Brian Maurer against Georgia.
The Vols benched Guarantano during the team’s latest loss, the 34-3 defeat at Florida, in which Maurer came in and sparked the offense, leading the team to the only points that they would score against the Gators.
Maurer wasn’t flawless in that showing, he was 4 of 11 passing in the game for 44 yards, but he does provide the offense an extra option as he is far more mobile and could hurt Georgia’s defense on the ground.
On the season, Guarantano has completed 65 percent of his passes for 753 yards, seven touchdowns and four interceptions.
During a Saturday morning appearance on SEC Network pregame show “SEC Nation,” Jeremy Pruitt explained the decision to go with Maurer to start the Georgia game. According to the Tennessee coach, Guarantano will also play in the game.
“Well, I want to start with Jarrett Guarantano. First of all, this guy is a guy that I believe in,” Pruitt said during his appearance on the show. “He had a really good spring, fall camp — along with a lot of the players on our team. We’ve not executed exactly at the level that we want to be at. To me, I look at it kind of like a basketball shooter. You got a hot shooter that’s not making shots, you put him on the bench and let him be the sixth man. Jarrett Guarantano’s going to play today.
“But Brian Maurer is a guy that has worked hard. He’s a really good athlete, so we’re going to give him an opportunity to see what he does to start the game.”
Few could have seen this change coming during the leadup to the season but Tennessee appears desperate for a spark on offense. Making it against Georgia seems questionable but at least Maurer will have the chance to start in Neyland Stadium and not in a hostile road environment.