Don’t give me any talk about Jarrett Guarantano almost turning the ball over on the first play or the fact that Tyson Helton and Jeremy Pruitt didn’t start Keller Chryst. Tennessee football’s issues on Saturday had nothing to do with the quarterback play.
Jarrett Guarantano was under duress all day. He often was limited with what he was allowed to do, he hardly ever had proper pass protection, and the running game was inconsistent at times. As a result, his stat line was never going to be impressive.
But he still completed 19-of-25 passes for 172 yards, one touchdown and no interceptions. On top of that, Guarantano converted his touchdown pass on a fourth-down play, having to bail out the offense after it couldn’t gain a yard running the ball the three previous plays.
So yes, Guarantano deserves to be on this list. There was really nothing more he could have done in this game except maybe make a better decision on the goal line in the fourth quarter when his team was already down by 20 points.
Simply put, this was reminiscent of what Guarantano had to deal with last year. Remember, he was inserted into the starting lineup midway through the season and was unable to get anything going because the team was decimated. At that point, they had quit on the season as well.
This year, Tennessee football has new energy with Pruitt at the helm. But a new system for everybody to learn was going to be difficult, and Guarantano managed it at quarterback as well as anybody could have Saturday.