Final Thoughts from the Vols’ Upset Win over No. 21 Auburn

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    (Photo via Tennessee Athletics)

    Jarrett Guarantano was phenomenal against Auburn, as you can see above. Guarantano threw for 328 yards and two touchdowns on 21-of-32 passing against a Tigers secondary that was allowing an SEC-best 153 passing yards heading into the game. Following his career-game, Guarantano has received a ton of national attention, and rightfully so. The redshirt sophomore was named Co-SEC Offensive Player of the Week, the Maxwell Award National Player of the Week, and received praise from Kirk Herbstreit.

    Guarantano’s being praised for his toughness and poise, and rightfully so. He was hit 11 times on Saturday and didn’t flinch once. On his 25-yard touchdown pass to Jauan Jennings, Guarantano was hit in the head by Jeremiah Dinson, who was ejected for targeting. On another deep completion to Josh Palmer, Guarantano hung in the pocket until the very last second, took a big hit, and popped right back up. It was the theme against Auburn. On another play, he got bent completely backwards, and after Vol fans’ hearts dropped, he popped right back up.

    Not only was his poise shown in the pocket, but Guarantano was poised on third down. Tennessee was 10-of-19 on the money down against Auburn, as Guarantano was 11-of-14 for 188 yards and a touchdown on third down. On third-and-8 or more, he was a perfect 8-for-8.

    In order to win in the SEC, you have to convert third downs, and with the help of the receivers, the Vols offense did just that. Guarantano targeted Jennings five different times, completing 4-of-5 passes for a first down. On Guarantano’s eight deep shots, he targeted Jennings once, which resulted in a touchdown to give Tennessee the lead for good. Here’s who Guarantano targeted throughout the game, and when.

    He was accurate with the football, he made all of the right decisions, and he didn’t turn the football over. Guarantano played winning football on Saturday, and as a result, he picked up his first SEC win as a starter.

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    Ben McKee
    Ben McKee is a graduate from the University of Tennessee and has a degree in Journalism and Electronic Media. He grew up an Army brat and lived in Alabama for a bit, but he bleeds orange. He covers Tennessee football, basketball, baseball, and the Lady Vols for RTI, and he's also a co-host on the RTI Live Show and RTI Podcast. You can also hear Ben on the morning sports radio show "The Swain Event." He's the producer and co-host along with former Vol wide receiver Jayson Swain.