The Vols dropped another game on Saturday afternoon that they had a shot at winning. In fact, they should have beat Kentucky.
How many times have you heard that phrase over the last three years?
A lot, I know.
But, the way they are losing these games is the main concern.
Unfortunately for Vols fans, it seems the coaches in the building don’t know that “doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results” has hurt the chances at a successful season. The definition of success for the 2020 season is up to you to interpret; most experts thought five to six wins would be successful with this schedule.
I thought this team could win six or seven games with all the returning talent.
But talent isn’t going to win you games on its own; that’s pretty obvious. Just look around the college football landscape this season already. Tennessee, though, has added a touch of spice to their losses that could’ve definitely been avoided, especially if you’re trying to cook up something good.
Tennessee is in a bit of trouble The Vols are hurting themselves at multiple positions and maybe even in the booth if you listen to Jeremy Pruitt.
But today, we will look at the quarterback position.
The Quarterback Problems Are No Longer On The Players
It’s pretty obvious that Tennessee has a problem they hoped to avoid before the season started. After four games there is a quarterback controversy.
Pruitt was adamant about the position during last week’s Monday press conference following the Georgia game. “Well, Jarrett (Guarantano) is our quarterback. He gives us the best opportunity to have success.”
Tennessee had just two offensive touchdowns in the Georgia game, which came from Guarantano’s arm, both in the second quarter. There wasn’t much offense in Athens, and it turns out there wasn’t much more coming Saturday in Knoxville. The Vols have only scored three offensive touchdowns over the past two games, with all three coming in the second quarter of said games.
We are past the “game manager” conversation and straight into the saving the season talk.
This isn’t on Guarantano anymore, and no, I am not talking about his performance on the field.
I am now talking about what’s going on in the facility. How is it that Tennessee doesn’t have a reliable backup that you can at least count on to go in and run whatever type of plays Jim Chaney is planning to call? That’s where I am at this point; it’s no longer Guarantano’s fault that he keeps getting put in these situations.
It’s on the staff.
Guarantano threw two interceptions that were returned for touchdowns on Saturday, and his game never recovered.
But what kind of environment was Pruitt expecting when he put him back in?
Unfortunately for Guarantano, he was booed by a crowd that sounded a lot louder than 22,000 folks might usually sound like. JT Shrout threw an interception on his first passing attempt of 2020, one he’d definitely want back.
So what happened next should’ve been expected, especially if you watched the entire 2019 season. When Pruitt put Jarrett back in the game, Tennessee went on a scoring drive thanks to Eric Gray and Ty Chandler. Guarantano was pulled for good later in the second half for Harrison Bailey, not Shrout or Maurer.
The Coaching Staff Needs To Step Up
This is on the staff and nobody else.
It is the job of coaches who are making tremendous amounts of money to figure out who they think is right to lead this team and have a backup plan. I am over the Covid excuses.
We know Brian Maurer has been dealing with a hamstring problem and quarantine. We know that JT has continued to work hard but had one bad play yesterday.
By the way, that was his first in-game pass in over a year against someone not wearing an orange jersey. We definitely know Harrison Bailey missed a few weeks of camp due to circumstances out of his control, and he’s still learning the playbook.
Jeremy Pruitt was asked if Jarrett Guarantano was his starting quarterback, during today’s press conference.
“When you look at it, Jarrett didn’t play his best game but there are other guys who didn’t play their best game too. He’s going to have to go out here and earn it in 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”
I wonder what would be happening right now if Kasim Hill was still in the QB room, maybe nothing, but he had starting experience in pressured situations.
There’s no way to sugarcoat what’s going on right now. Pruitt and staff have to make tough decisions for the good of the program. If you still trust Guarantano and roll him out there on Saturday against Alabama, if he has a great day and keeps the team in the game, then good for the coaches and him.
But, if he falters and a chorus of boo’s reign down from the fans, I won’t see them being directed at Jarrett; I’ll look at them as a reaction to the coaches.
When asked after the game what the starting quarterback position would look like going forward, Pruitt didn’t have the same reaction as that post Georgia presser.
“I would say it’s undecided. Right now, when you lose 34-7, I think everybody in our organization has got to look and see what went wrong. We could make changes at any level.”
The Defensive Line Group Has To Find A Monster
If you haven’t heard the news yet, Tennessee fired DL coach Jimmy Brumbaugh Sunday. This will come as a surprise to many, including myself, on the timing. I would’ve thought it would come at the end of the season. But, I guess there’s no reason to wait if you’re going to do it anyway.
This group hasn’t performed to the billing.
2 TFL’s over the past few weeks and sacks are mainly coming from the edge.
But, with Aubrey Solomon and Darel Middleton missing so much time during the lead up to the season. The Vols haven’t been able to find that “Monster” on the line of scrimmage. Someone they can count on every play.
I am definitely not saying this is all on Jimmy Brumbaugh; heck, he didn’t actually have much time to work with this group on the field. It’s more about nobody stepping up and being the guy that the front seven can lean on every play.
Jeremy Pruitt was asked about the firing of Brumbaugh during his Monday press conference.
“If it’s not working out, it’s better to just do it right now. Jimmy and I had a really good conversation. Unfortunately, probably because of the COVID-19 circumstances, when you’re a new coach and you don’t have a chance to be around your players in March, April and May and then a limited amount in June, it puts you at a disadvantage. This is no knock on Jimmy as a coach whatsoever. He is one of the most knowledgeable guys I’ve been around and he’ll do a good job wherever he goes. It’s just something that I felt like we needed to do and we did it.”
You always hate to see someone get fired, especially with the timing. But now this is on Pruitt; it’s time to get more out of this group.
I’ll end the way we started. As someone once said, the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.
Let’s see what week five of the Vols season brings. There’s a decent chance of Insanity.