True freshman Brian Maurer was tasked with making his first career start at quarterback for the Vols against the No. 3 team in the country on Saturday night. And he got things going with a bang.
After punting on their opening possession, Tennessee’s offense struck gold on their second drive against Georgia on Saturday night. Maurer connected with Marquez Callaway for a 73-yard touchdown to pull the Vols even with Georgia, 7-7. On Tennessee’s next possession, Maurer again orchestrated a scoring drive, leading the Vols’ offense down the field for a 10-play, 75-yard drive that ended with a 12-yard touchdown pass to Jauan Jennings. That gave Tennessee a 14-10 lead.
Maurer and the Vols’ offense got off to a blazing hot start, but things would cool down after that. Tennessee punted on their next two possessions, missed a field goal, and had two incomplete passes before the clock struck zero for halftime. In the second half, Maurer was swallowed alive by Georgia’s defense, completing just one of his three pass attempts in the third quarter for zero yards. He was sacked twice and threw an interception in the third quarter as well.
After taking some big hits, Maurer still fought back and had a drive going in the fourth quarter before he was nailed by a Georgia defender. As he was hit, the ball was stripped from him, and the Bulldogs recovered and returned it 60 yards for a score.
That would do it for Maurer, and Jarrett Guarantano relieved him as he was tended to on the sidelines. But all in all, Maurer’s debut as a starter was a solid one.
The true freshman finished with 259 passing yards, two touchdowns, an interception, and a fumble on 14-of-28 passing. His 259 yards through the air were the second-most by a true freshman quarterback in his first start in UT history.
On Sunday afternoon, Maurer delivered a message to Vol fans on Twitter, thanking them for their support. The freshman also stated, “I promise that as a team we are working to get back on the right track.”
Vol Nation , Thank you for always showing up and supporting us. You guys have no idea how much you mean to us , I promise that as a team we are working to get back on the right track.
Please continue to show up and support us , Thank you pic.twitter.com/akB7YLC3Wm
— Brian Maurer (@maurerera_2) October 6, 2019
Maurer joined the Vols as part of their 2019 signing class and was an early enrollee in the spring. The Ocala, Florida quarterback was invited to the Elite 11 Finals last summer prior to his senior year of high school. As a senior, Maurer set several school and county records for West Port High School, throwing for 3,543 yards and 34 touchdowns in his final season in high school.
Prior to Saturday’s start, Maurer had appeared in two games for the Vols this season, playing a few series against UT-Chattanooga and starting the second half against Florida down in Gainesville. But after ineffective play by Jarrett Guarantano in the first four weeks, Maurer was given the reins of the offense on Saturday.
Will Maurer be Tennessee’s starter again next week when the Vols host Mississippi State? Head coach Jeremy Pruitt says he’ll still have to watch the film from Saturday’s game to make the final judgement, but odds are No. 18 will be under center again next weekend.
“I’ll have to watch film, I don’t know,” Pruitt said after the game when asked if Maurer would be the starting quarterback moving forward. “I thought Brian competed really hard. I thought Jarrett did a nice job when he was in there. It was good for both of them. It was good for our football team.”
On the season, Maurer has completed 18 of his 41 pass attempts for 303 yards, two touchdowns, and two interceptions. He also has a rushing touchdown.