Tennessee’s offense hasn’t scored a touchdown in 14 quarters. The Vols have made four field goals over their last 14 quarters of play, the the offense hasn’t scored a touchdown. The defense has, but the offense has not.
But redshsirt freshman quarterback Jarrett Guarantano thinks his group is ready for a big performance this Saturday against Kentucky.
Guarantano will make his second road start of his career this weekend. And he’s determined to improve communication with his teammates.
“There are some things I could work on,” Guarantano said to reporters on Tuesday. “Like helping out the offensive line, filling some holes in protection.”
Guarantano was 9-for-16 for 44 yards against No. 1 Alabama on Saturday. He thinks that the offense has stopped itself with little mistakes and costly penalties.
“There’s some things we’ve done to hurt ourselves, but I think our confidence is still there,” Guarantano addded. “The offensive line still have trust in me to make plays. I think we’re in a good position and we’re ready to explode these next few weeks and play well.
“I think we’re finally going to go out there and make plays like we should’ve been, and I think that as practice has gone on, we continue to do so.”
Kentucky’s defense won’t be anything like the Alabama defense the Vols just faced. The Wildcats have allowed 393.7 yards per game to opponents so far this season, and opposing teams have scored an average of 24.7 points per game against them. If ever the Vols’ offense were to break out of their slump, this weekend should be it.
The redshirt freshman also told reporters that he’s starting to feel much more comfortable in the offense. And as the game slows down for Guarantano, he’ll be able to make big plays down the field.
“I think there’s a lot of things that we’ve done that have shot us in the foot,” Guarantano stated. “And I think that with the way we’ve handled things, I think we’re just ready to keep it going and just be able to get off on the right foot and keep it going.”
The Vols weren’t able to complete a pass that gained more than 20 yards against the Crimson Tide. And in order to open up the run game, Guarantano needs that big play ability to make an impact.
He’s certainly not afraid of throwing the ball downfield. But he also has made it a point not to turn the ball over.
“I’ve always not tried to turn the ball over,” he said. “I’m definitely not scared to throw it down the field and do whatever’s happened, but I do think that being able to control the turnover battle is a big part of the game.”
As Guarantano progresses into his third week of practice as the starting quarterback, he needs more help. Marquez Callaway led the Vols in receiving last weekend with just three catches for 14 yards. And the offensive line has continued to struggle protecting the quarterback, as Guarantano has been sacked 13 times in his two starts and three other appearances.
If the Vols want to stop their three game losing streak against Kentucky, they’ll have to have the offensive explosion Guarantano is predicting on Saturday.