Well, another week has come and gone, and the Vols have dropped another game. Ya know?, if you would have told me at any point in my life that U.T. would start ANY football season 0-2, I would have laughed in your face. However, much like last week, I will get an ill feeling in my stomach when I type this out; the Vols drop their second straight game to open the 2019 season.
I really do not know how to preface anything in this article, so I am not going to. I am going to dive right in.
There really is quite a bit I can put here. Final score removed, I saw some things I liked on Saturday night. First off, Ty Chandler and Eric Gray are a very formidable backfield duo. They combined for 231 rushing yards and both showed great speed and elusiveness. BUT…Ty Chandler should have never gotten caught going down the sideline at the end of the first half, and a touchdown there would have been huge for us.
Jim Chaney called a really good game. There were a ton of missed opportunities, but the overall mix of passes and run plays and doing what worked until the Cougars figured out how to stop it was nice to see. Jauan Jennings is playing his way into the UT record books and probably into an NFL career. Young players continue to show promise. Brent Cimaglia continues to knock them through the uprights.
See? It wasn’t all bad. But I am not really concerned about the good right now. It is nice to see some individuals having success, sure.
But the Vols are 0-2.
I am a fan; I am mad.
I am mad that I STILL see Jeremy Pruitt with his back turned towards the field in big moments. I am mad that we have gotten beat in back to back weeks by teams I have used as the butts of jokes before. I am mad that Alontae Taylor was 5 yards closer than any other member of the secondary to a BYU receiver before the snap in what should have been a prevent defense. I am mad that Nigel Warrior whiffed (again) on a tackle that would have stopped Micah Simon 20 yards earlier. But most of all, I am mad at the play of Jarrett Guarantano.
Let me be the first to say (and you can read it here in a previous article), I started off this season high on JG and thought he was going to have a monster season, I really did. As of today, I am wrong. Can he turn this season around? Yes. Can any good player have a 2 game rough start? Absolutely. Is that what is happening here? I don’t think so. With all of that being said, let me warn you; if you are a big Jarrett Guarantano supporter, you may not want to continue reading this article.
I am in no way going to bash the kid’s character, his success (he is a starting QB in the SEC, after all), or his competitiveness/toughness. He is, again, a young man playing a game. I am going to knock on his play for the rest of this article though.
This is going to really hurt me to say because I really do like the guy, but Jarrett’s play is why we are 0-2. I am fully confident in that. His stats, like last week, do not look awful. If he continues to be the starter throughout the year, they will probably still look decent and paint the picture of a capable quarterback on paper come season’s end. But so far, that isn’t the case.
The minute I realized that the touchdown in the first half was off a tipped pass, I knew we were going to lose. It was a poor decision to throw that ball, and he should have been picked off there. He continues to be late on his throws. He continues to misread defenses and completely neglect the first level of coverage. He continues to hold the ball too long and take hits. He continues to stare down receivers and not move through his progressions. None of those qualities are acceptable in a University of Tennessee starting quarterback.
I thought he had matured as a football player. I thought he had gotten past the freshman mistakes. I was wrong. If we see the same Jarrett Guarantano play every game this year at this level, we will be lucky to win three games. In Saturday’s loss to BYU (shew, that is hideous to say), JG only had one good pass in my opinion. He threw the ball in a toss up situation to Jauan Jennings in the first overtime period. It really wasn’t anything he did, but knowing to put the ball where Jauan and someone else would be fighting over it- I thought that was about as smart of a throw as Jarrett could have made. 9 times out of 10, number 15 is coming way with it.
I have no idea what the answer is, and in fact there may not be one for the 2019 season. I would like to see J.T. Shrout or Brian Maurer get some time, and we may see that this week against U.T.-Chattanooga (we will win this one, everybody; I promise). However, if this staff hasn’t already trotted them out there after seeing the poor decision making and play of Jarrett Guarantano these past two games, I am not sure that either of them would solve this issue either. We may not have an answer until Harrison Bailey arrives on campus in 2020 and is a (gulp) true freshman starter.
It is tough writing pieces on your favorite team when they are not doing well, but I know that I, like many of you, are Vols Through it All. Be sure to check out the articles written by the other fine folks at More Important Issues, and try to listen to the Podcast! We have a long football season ahead of us, but we will all be here to provide you with the most information about the most things Tennessee as possible. Until next week, this is me signing off.
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