Redshirt sophomore quarterback Jarrett Guarantano has taken a ton of big hits in his Tennessee career. He’s usually been able to get back up and continue playing after them, though.
But on Saturday, Guarantano took a huge shot to the chest in the second quarter after connecting with Josh Palmer on a 30-yard pass, and he had to come out of the game. Grad transfer Keller Chryst took over and orchestrated a scoring drive on that possession, and Guarantano never came back into the game.
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Vol fans were wondering about the health of Tennessee’s starting quarterback after the game. When asked about Guarantano’s health and if he would be held out of next Saturday’s game against South Carolina, Tennessee head coach Jeremy Pruitt simply replied with, “Nah, he’ll be back.”
Pruitt explained that part of the reasoning for keeping Guarantano out was because Chryst immediately came in and found some rhythm on offense. Chryst capped off the drive in which he filled in for Guarantano with a 10-yard touchdown throw to Ty Chandler, and he followed that up with a 20-yard touchdown throw to Tyler Byrd on the next possession.
“I mean, Jarrett got hit I don’t know how many times, probably every time he threw the football,” Pruitt said after the game. “Keller come in and made some good throws. We just stayed with Keller.”
Chryst’s first major action of the season saw him finish 9-of-15 for 164 yards and two touchdowns. He came into Saturday’s game having attempted only 13 passes on the season, completing seven of them for 113 yards and a touchdown. Chryst did go down for a safety on Tennessee’s opening possession of the third quarter, but all in all he filled in nicely for the injured Guarantano.
But despite Chryst’s good performance on Saturday, it appears Guarantano will likely get the starting nod against South Carolina next weekend as long as he doesn’t show any side effects from that big hit during the week. Guarantano finished the afternoon completing five of his 10 passes for 63 yards and had a fumble that got recovered by Alabama.
Guarantano did miss a start last season because of injury. He left Tennessee’s game against Southern Miss early after taking several hits, and he missed the Vols’ next game against Missouri. True freshman Will McBride filled in for him that game and made his first career start in a 50-17 loss to the Tigers.
Last season, Guarantano made his first career start for Tennessee when the Vols took on the Gamecocks. He completed 11 of his 18 pass attempts for 133 yards and got sacked eight times in a 15-9 loss to South Carolina that game. He should have a chance to try and avenge that loss this upcoming Saturday as long as Pruitt and his staff feel he is good to go.