Rapid Reaction: Jarrett Guarantano's big day, defense carry Vols to lopsided win
Tennessee’s woeful start to the 2019 season finally received some relief against Chattanooga on Saturday.
After an 0-2 start that included head-scratching losses to Georgia State and BYU, the Vols stopped the bleeding and topped the Mocs at home 45-0. The game is a reason for celebration given the opponent but considering the beginning of the season, the Vols will take all they can get.
Here are some rapid reactions:
He had a nice day, but are coaches sold on Jarrett Guarantano?
Benching Guarantano has been a common fix-all among UT’s fan base. That seemed a bit too easy.
Guarantano missed on his first pass Saturday, then hit on 7 in a row. Included were 3 TD passes — the first time in his career he enjoyed a 3 TD afternoon. Still, Pruitt’s halftime comments included a statement that the first pass should have been intercepted.
Guarantano sat after that, a 7-for-8 day for 142 yards.
The Vols decided to play freshmen J.T. Shrout and Brian Mauer in the first half on Saturday when the game was still somewhat in question. Perhaps Pruitt knew that UT would pull ahead late. Nevertheless, it was a sign of indecision, which has been a common theme for the Vols lately.
Henry To’oto’o is for real
The Vols might not be great this season and linebacker Henry To’oto’o won’t likely be a superstar this season. However, it seems just a matter of time until the freshman is a standout player in the SEC. He was rangy, active and disciplined Saturday. That’s something the Vols can count on.
A healthy Daniel Bituli helps
The Vols need more experience in all positions. Bituli provided that at linebacker on Saturday after being sidelined and slowed with a minor knee injury earlier this season. He can provide leadership for a talented, young group of linebackers.
It’s hard to find fault with a defense that forced 5 turnovers and pitched a shutout.
Tennessee still has discipline issues
The Vols still were misaligned on defense as they have been in the past and were called for too many penalties. UT was a far better team than Chattanooga on Saturday and it showed. However, discipline problems need to be addressed as the Vols head into the meat of their schedule. If UT can’t clean things up, they have no chance of changing the course of their season against better opponents.
Big plays make things better
The Vols entered the game with a negative turnover margin. They addressed that emphatically Saturday.
They created 5 turnovers and made big plays on special teams. That’s what the Vols need to overcome the shortcomings they have on their roster. They’ll need plenty of those plays against Florida next week.