Tennessee QB Jarrett Guarantano met with the media on Friday afternoon to answer a variety of questions about the upcoming season. He didn’t shy away from the difficult ones either.
JG had problems last season of being consistent with his game, something he says he’s been working on ever since.
“Going into February, we wrote down a couple of key things and it was be consistent and lead. I think those were two things that I needed to work on and get better at. That’s been my focus every single day, just going into every day talking about stacking chips with Coach (Chris) Weinke and just being able to grow every single day in a sense of getting better either mentally, physically or just becoming a better football player.”
Jarrett would be the first to tell you that being able to process things quicker after a snap is an element of his game he needed to work on. When asked about this, Jarrett said “It feels way more comfortable. I feel like my mind’s not going 100,000 different places. I have a pre-snap read, a post-snap read, and being able to really truly understand the offense’s ins and outs, it allows me to move faster, it allows me to see things come open way quicker and deliver the ball more on time and accurately.”
Motivation wasn’t a problem for the senior quarterback, even if the off-season was uncommon. “Very weird. Nobody has ever been associated with something like this. I kind of had to find some self motivation throughout the offseason to get some stuff done.”
“I didn’t have the season I wanted to have last year, so it wasn’t very hard to wakeup and be motivated to get better.” Guarantano added.
Many forget that Tennessee brought in former Notre Dame OC Chip Long to be an analyst for a year. Guarantano said of his relationship with Long, “Coach Chip Long has been really helpful. I am with him for a few hours a day just picking his brain.”
It wasn’t pleasant at times last season on and off the field for Jarrett, who went through many different emotions as he battled to regain his starting position.
But, when asked why he returned to Tennessee, Guarantano made it very clear.
“I was thinking about my journey here and there’s no place that I would rather be, honestly. Of course, there’s been ups and downs and in life you experience many ups and downs, so it was nothing for me. There were some things I had to grow and learn from and I wouldn’t undo any of this, honestly. I just tell myself some things about the process, not trying to rush it, but there’s no place I would rather be. I’m lucky to be a Tennessee Vol and I wouldn’t change that for the world.”
It shouldn’t shock anyone that knows college football that it’s not easy to have a rotating door of offensive coordinators. As Jarrett noted how it helps him in regards to being comfortable with the play calling.
“Just in the sense of myself, I feel like I’m more comfortable. I feel like a lot of the guys see that I’m more comfortable and confident in my abilities and the way that I can mentally inject my way into the game. I’ve always felt like I was a smart football player but being able to have Year 2 under the same offense, it allows me to kind of show it a little bit.”
When asked about the freshman wide receiver group, Guarantano put up a lot of praise.
“The freshmen receivers, they’re all very talented guys and I’m excited to get to work with them. They’re all very hardworking and they’re in the complex 24-7, whether that’s in the weight room or they’re up top just getting their knowledge right, so I’m excited for them and I expect them to make a big impact this coming season.”
He’s going to need their help, having to replace veterans like Marquez Callaqay and Jauan Jennings is no small task.
But, if there’s anything we learned from Guarantano today, it’s that he’s not backing away from the competition that lies ahead. “I’m a competitor. I’m excited for the season and the challenge.”
Buckle up Tennessee fans, a new season is approaching and your QB has a lot more confidence.
All images courtesy of Tennessee Athletic Communications.