Tennessee football: Guarantano efficient but critics still circling
There’s a common saying that coaches and quarterbacks get too much credit. For Jarrett Guarantano, that’s half right.
There seems to be nothing Guarantano can do to be considered an asset for Tennessee’s football team — at least that’s the common consensus among fans and even former players who routinely blast the senior on social media. It seems as if Rodney Dangerfield got more respect.
Guarantano was the key cog for the Vols in their 35-12 win over Missouri on Saturday. He completed 14-of-23 passes for 190 yards, one touchdown and no interceptions. He also ran for two touchdowns. Still, no respect.
Simply scroll through social media and you’ll find instances of Guarantano critics. Can he do anything to stop the naysayers? Probably not. At least he is appreciated among UT’s coaches. Coach Jeremy Pruitt seemed to compliment Guarantano after the Missouri game.
“I know there are three times in the game that I didn’t feel like Jarrett made the right read, that I saw,” Pruitt said. “But, I think there were three times last week, so that’s three out of 76 or how many ever snaps we took today. He’s continuing to work hard to put us in the right place. We put a lot on him and he can handle it.”
That’s a compliment, at least as much as Pruitt can muster.
Let’s be clear, Guarantano is not – and never will be – another Peyton Manning. However, Guarantano should be appreciated for what he is – a calm in the storm for a program that is in the process of rebuilding. Guarantano’s accuracy will always be an issue for him and the Vols. He’s never going to be a pinpoint passer. Still, he should be appreciated.
Perhaps Guarantano is partly to blame – or at least the recruiting services that made him an All-American before he even took his first college snap. Remember the video in Times Square in which he announced his Tennessee commitment? He might as well have said he was taking his talents to Rocky Top.
Expectations can forever sour fans against a quarterback. Ask former Vol Jonathan Crompton about that. Like Guarantano, Crompton was a top-tier recruit who had to go through a coaching change and was never appreciated by Tennessee fans. It’s time to appreciate both for what they have done for UT’s program.
Both were most likely damaged by instability. Both have shown broad shoulders that could carry the load. It’s unfortunate that some former UT coaches couldn’t do the same.
Neither Guarantano nor Crompton are the first Tennessee quarterbacks to be underappreciated in the post-Peyton Manning era. Casey Clausen also quickly comes to mind.
The Manning legacy is both a blessing and a curse. His level of play will likely never be seen again at Tennessee. However, that doesn’t mean that other quarterbacks that follow can’t be successful and appreciated.
It’s not in Pruitt’s nature to play a public relations game, but this would be a good time for him to champion Guarantano’s cause. Pruitt’s mentor, Nick Saban, has effectively challenged his fan base through the media. Pruitt should do the same to rally fans around Guarantano. Sometimes stoicism isn’t the answer.
I know it seems as if Guarantano has been at UT since the Vols broke out checkerboard end zones. I know that he has been uncertain in games. That’s the result of instability that is far above his level of responsibility.
I also know that the Vols would take another quarterback in any recruiting class with the backbone that Guarantano has shown.
Guarantano won’t lead the Vols to any sort of championship. That’s out of the question given the state of UT’s program. However, Guarantano has led the Vols out of obscurity to relevance. That’s something for Tennessee fans to be proud of.