RTI contributor Murphy Carlton contributed to this article
One of the biggest and most talked about coaching changes during the college football offseason was the addition of Jim Chaney to the Tennessee coaching staff as the new offensive coordinator. Vol fans were excited to welcome Chaney back to Knoxville, but Chaney is just the latest in what’s been a revolving door of play callers for Tennessee.
For redshirt junior quarterback Jarrett Guarantano, Chaney marks the fourth different offensive coordinator he’s had in his four years at Tennessee.
Members of the media and UT fans both have been wondering what to expect from the new duo leading the Tennessee offense. Both Chaney and Guarantano have been very complimentary of each other so far this fall, indicating a solid start to their relationship.
Chaney spoke with members of the media last week about what he expects from Guarantano leading his offense, as well as what their relationship has been like in the first few months working together.
When asked what he expects from the redshirt junior, Chaney stated that he wants Guarantano to know that not everything rides on his shoulders.
“Playing clean football, distributing it around to our playmakers, not letting him think that everything rides on his shoulders,” Chaney replied when asked what he expects from Guarantano this fall. “I’m more worried about him learning all the protections and continuing to develop in that mindset so he can keep himself protected.”
Chaney’s offenses typically feature a lot of quick pass plays to get the ball out of the quarterback’s hands and into the hands of his playmakers. If you watched Tennessee’s offense last season, you know this type of offense is exactly what the Vols need.
The offensive line was simply not good enough last year, and as a result of that, Guarantano was under pressure almost every snap. All of the blame, however, does not fall on the offensive line.
Some criticism directed towards Guarantano last year was that he didn’t do a good job picking up blitzes to keep himself from constantly getting hit. An improved offensive line should help some, but with the help from Chaney, Guarantano should do a better job at keeping himself protected.
According to Guarantano, Chaney has helped him out in that regard in the few months they’ve been working together.
When Guarantano met with the media on Sunday, he was asked how much Chaney has altered the offense compared to last year. Guarantano stated that Chaney has helped him understand “protection stuff” a lot more, and the veteran play caller has helped him improve a lot.
“He’s changed the whole offense, and it’s really quarterback-driven,” Guarantano said. “A lot of protection stuff, a lot of defense looks. There are a lot of things.
“I’m very happy he’s the coach. He’s really helped my game out a lot.”
When asked if Chaney has simplified things or attempted to complicate the offense in order to challenge him more, Guarantano said UT’s new OC has “definitely simplified” things for him. But he doesn’t expect it to be easy for opposing defenses to figure out.
“I think the game is coming a lot easier,” Guarantano explained. “I think his offense has just made it easier, and it’s a lot more complicated, in a sense, for defenses, but it’s also simpler for the offense.”
Chaney was asked about how much he trusts Guarantano to control his offense and make changes when necessary as compared to other quarterbacks he has coached in the past. Last year, there were questions about how much control at the line of scrimmage Guarantano had.
This year, it looks like the redshirt junior will have a lot more control in Chaney’s offense.
“I think any good offense allows your quarterback to change plays when they need to,” Chaney stated. “As a play caller, you can sit there and be right about 60 percent of the time. Somebody’s gotta get you right that other 40 or you’re living in a bad situation. Expectations for (Guarantano) is to get me out of my horrible calls into some good calls, which I think he can do.
“I trust all our quarterbacks to be able to do that, but he should do it at a higher rate because he’s played more football.”
Chaney knows what it takes to win football games. Just look at the success he had at the helm of Georgia’s offense the last few seasons. He knows he isn’t going to be perfect all of the time, and he trusts his quarterbacks to make the necessary changes when they need to be made.
Guarantano and Chaney already seem to have a great relationship. Both said as much when speaking with the media.
“I’ve enjoyed Jarrett. I think he’s going to have a good season for us,” Chaney said. “He’s hungry to do so. I think he’s a very good student of football. I think he has a good aptitude, and I think he has a good feel for the game. I like Jarrett. We’ve developed a good relationship so far.”
As for Guarantano, he and the rest of Tennessee’s offensive players have a lot of trust and confidence in the veteran play caller.
“I think everybody has immense trust and immense respect for him,” Guarantano said. “Whenever we signed him, everybody was very excited because they knew his track record and knew the types of things that he’s done in the past. The past two days, everybody’s hooping and hollering, and everybody’s excited. Just having that guy around, he exerts confidence in himself and us.
“I think our offense is much more confident, and we know our jobs better.”
Vol fans will be happy to hear that these two have already meshed well together. That should have a big impact on UT’s offense as a whole once the season kicks off. The relationship between offensive coordinator and quarterback needs to be strong in order for the offense to flow smoothly.
Everyone will finally get to see what Tennessee’s 2019 offense will look like under Chaney in four short weeks. The Vols will kick off the 2019 season at home against Georgia State on August 31st.