1. Can Jarrett Guarantano continue to take the hits he took in 2018?
His advanced metrics show he’s great under pressure. But Jarrett Guarantano’s beatings took a toll on him throughout the year, and by late October they showed. Against the South Carolina Gamecocks, the Vols’ first game without Trey Smith, Guarantano began missing some deep throws, which he was nailing against the Auburn Tigers.
It’s also worth noting Guarantno was knocked out of the Florida Gators game midway through, when the offensive line was bad beyond even historical standards, and then he was knocked out of the Missouri Tigers game early. This year, despite his toughness, it’s fair to ask how much more Guarantano can take.
2. Will a quality backup emerge?
The beatings Guarantano could take lead us to our next question, and it’s one Jeremy Pruitt brought up at SEC Media Days. Despite our coverage of the backups, Tennessee football has no quarterback outside of Guarantano who has ever played an official snap of college ball. And they only have three legitimate quarterbacks on the roster.
Sure, J.T. Shrout and Brian Maurer have shown potential. But as last year showed, the Vols are likely to need a backup to step in at some point this year. So while those are names on the roster, somebody needs to demonstrate they can get the job done this Fall.
3. How often will Jim Chaney go deep with Guarantano?
He did average nearly eight yards an attempt, but Jarrett Guarantano seemed to have a major harness on him throughout much of the year in 2018. Tyson Helton and Jeremy Pruitt seemed obsessed with keeping his mistakes to a minimum.
This year, Tennessee football needs more big plays from him. And Jim Chaney is just the type of offensive coordinator to do that given his track record. How often he utilizes Guarantano’s big arm with his elite playmakers in the passing game could dictate the whole season. It could also bring a bit more entertainment to Rocky Top for once.