Against Mississippi State on Saturday, true freshman quarterback Brian Maurer made his second career start. But just like his first start of his Tennessee career, he didn’t get to finish the game.
In Maurer’s first start against Georgia, he left the game in the second half after taking a huge hit by a Georgia defender on a sack. Against Mississippi State on Saturday in his second career start, Maurer again exited the game early, only this time it was in the first half.
Maurer tucked it and ran in the second quarter with the Vols driving up 7-3. He gained 13 yards on the carry, but he was upended on the tackle and landed awkwardly on his head. The freshman immediately got back up and didn’t show any signs of injury and stayed in the game for a couple more plays. He handed the ball off to Tim Jordan for no gain, gave the ball to Ty Chandler for a one-yard run, then dropped back and threw a bad interception in the end zone for his second red zone interception of the game.
After that, Maurer was taken out of the game and would not return. Head coach Jeremy Pruitt revealed after the game that Maurer suffered a concussion.
The Vols were able to defeat Mississippi State without Maurer at the helm thanks to a strong rushing attack, a stout defensive effort, and Jarrett Guarantano managing the offense and making smart decisions.
On Monday, Pruitt was asked about the protocol for Maurer and how he looks now. According to Tennessee’s head coach, Maurer should be fine.
“Brian took some reps last night at practice,” Pruitt said during his weekly Monday press conference. “He’s going to be fine, I’m sure.”
Maurer finished his second start completing four of his seven passes for 61 yards and two interceptions. He added three carries for 41 yards, ripping off a 22-yard run and the 13-yard run where he suffered the concussion.
After Maurer landed on his head on that run, why wasn’t he taken out and evaluated at that moment? Pruitt was asked just that on Monday, and he explained.
“I don’t know how you could,” Pruitt responded when asked why Maurer wasn’t evaluated right after that hit. “I mean, he hit his head on the ground, jumps up, runs back in the huddle, gets the call, calls the next deal.
“Every play, there’s a lot of people running into each other, they’re hitting their heads. I guess we could stop the game and evaluate everybody out there, but I don’t think we have time for that.”
It would seem that as long as Maurer is healthy and is suffering no bad side effects from the concussion, he’ll be Tennessee’s starting quarterback against Alabama this upcoming Saturday.
Guarantano filled in admirably for Maurer when he came into the game. The former starting quarterback finished 6-of-7 for 106 yards and a touchdown. Guarantano was a perfect 3-for-3 on third down throws, and he picked up the first down every time he threw it on third down.
Tennessee and Alabama will kick-off at 9:00 PM Eastern in Tuscaloosa on Saturday, October 19th.