Butch Jones spoke to the media on Wednesday during his weekly press conference, and he gave some updates on some injured Vols, why he chose to start Jarrett Guarantano at quarterback, and more.
Jones began his press conference by stating that linebacker Austin Smith and kick returner Evan Berry have been ruled out for Saturday’s match-up against South Carolina. Smith has yet to play in a single game this season because of an injury he sustained before the Vols’ season opener, and Berry hasn’t played since the first game of the year against Georgia Tech.
He would later add that they expect Berry to return at some point, but there’s no timetable for his return as of now.
Jones also confirmed the report from Tuesday that redshirt freshman Jarrett Guarantano will be the Vols’ new starting quarterback when Tennessee hosts South Carolina. Jones stated that Guarantano has “earned the right and the opportunity” to start at quarterback. Guarantano will be making his first career start this weekend and is taking over for junior Quinten Dormady after he started the first five games of this season.
And according to Jones, Dormady has handled the situation well.
“He obviously was disappointed,” Jones said of Dormady, “but that’s what you expect from a competitor. He had one of his best practices yesterday.”
Jones also stated that starting Guarantano won’t matter if he’s not given the chance to succeed.
“We have to put (Guarantano) in situations to help him be successful,” Jones stated. So far this season, Guarantano has attempted just 24 passes and has completed 12 of them for 54 yards and a touchdown.
Jones also said that it will “take everything we have” for the Vols to defeat the Gamecocks this weekend. He went on to cite all the close contests the two teams have participated in since he arrived, pointing out that every game has been close since he took over as head coach.
Since 2013, the Vols-Gamecocks game has been decided by three or fewer points. Tennessee has won three of those contests while South Carolina won last year’s match-up.