Jarrett Guarantano still Tennessee's starter? Jeremy Pruitt comments on Vols' plan at QB, Harrison Bailey's debut
It’s true what they say, when a team is struggling, the most popular guy on campus is often the backup quarterback.
That’s certainly the case at Tennessee this week as many fans are desperate to see a change at the game’s most important position after Jarrett Guarantano threw two pick six interceptions and lost a fumble in the team’s 34-7 loss to Kentucky on Saturday.
The biggest ovation from the Neyland Stadium crowd over the weekend came when backup JT Shrout entered the game against Kentucky but that lasted all of one play, as Tennessee’s second-string QB was intercepted on his first pass attempt.
So where does that leave Tennessee?
“Obviously, there’s three or four plays in the game Jarrett would like to have back,” Pruitt said on Monday. “I talked about them after the game. Same thing with JT. When you look at Brian and Harrison, both of these guys were limited in fall camp — which is one of the reasons we’ve continued to have these scrimmages on Sunday night — to try and get these guys caught up. Just to give them an opportunity.
“There’s nothing like live action. Again, we had a scrimmage last night and both of these guys took reps, so we’ll continue to evaluate that position as the week goes.”
The Tennessee coach was then asked to share his take on the first look at freshman Harrison Bailey, who played late in the game.
“When we put him in, he hadn’t taken any reps for the Kentucky game plan so we just called plays that we knew he would know,” Pruitt said. “Again, I can’t reiterate enough when it comes to Harrison, the lack of opportunity that he got during fall camp. He’s getting more and more reps. When you are getting ready to play a game, you really work one quarterback, you have a backup and a third-team guy kinda, if he can get a rep or two in there you do it.
“With Harrison, we are going to continue to work him and develop him and same thing with Brian, JT, all of them. There’s only one ball. It’s not camp, we aren’t in camp, we are in the season so we have to prepare for our opponents – which is why we are having these extra things on Sunday night and probably, if we can stay healthy, we’ll continue to do this on Tuesday and Wednesday practices as well.”
These comments certainly suggest Jarrett Guarantano will remain Tennessee’s starter for at least another week.
Has Tennessee made a decision on Guarantano’s status? Here’s what Pruitt said when he was asked if the senior was still the team’s starter.
“Yeah, I mean, when you look at it, Jarrett didn’t play his best game the other night, right? But there’s some other guys that didn’t play their best game, too,” Pruitt replied. “He’s going to have to go out there and earn it at practice, just like everybody else. Am I wanting to put Jarrett Guarantano on the shelf? No. Absolutely not.
“I think the guy has a lot of really good qualities about him. He’s helped us win a lot of football games. Did he make a few mistakes on Saturday? Sure he did. Okay. But I think everybody on our football team and in our organzation could have done better. Starting with me. So, this isn’t about one person, it’s about everybody in our program and I think everybody within our program understands that.”