For Vol fans hoping to get some positive news about freshman quarterback Brian Maurer’s availability for Saturday’s contest against South Carolina, head coach Jeremy Pruitt had some sobering news on Wednesday.
Pruitt appeared on the weekly SEC coaches teleconference on Wednesday around lunchtime, and he was asked about the health of Maurer after the young quarterback took another blow to the head against Alabama over the weekend. According to the second-year head coach, the freshman signal caller is “doubtful” for this upcoming weekend.
“Brian (Maurer) has not taken any reps this week, so he’s probably doubtful,” Pruitt said according to Noah Tyler of The Daily Beacon. Pruitt would go on to add that both redshirt freshman JT Shrout and redshirt junior Jarrett Guarantano have both been preparing to play against South Carolina.
Maurer has yet to complete a game in which he’s started this season. The freshman earned his first career start against then-No. 3 Georgia coming off UT’s bye week, and he played well in the first half before being subdued in the second half by the Bulldogs’ defense. In the fourth quarter, Maurer took a huge blindside hit and fumbled the ball. He was taken out of the game after the hit, and Guarantano finished out the final quarter of play.
Against Mississippi State, Maurer again started, but he again was taken out of the game early. Maurer was upended on a 13-yard run and landed awkwardly on his neck. He remained in the game for the next three plays before throwing an interception. He didn’t come back into the game after that, and Guarantano again came on in relief. Against Alabama, Maurer was shoved to the ground after completing a pass to Jauan Jennings, and his head hit the back of his own lineman’s leg in the first quarter. Maurer was held out of the game after that, and Guarantano played the rest of the contest until his infamous fumble at the goal line in the fourth quarter.
On the season, Maurer has completed 27 of his 55 pass attempts for 426 yards, two touchdowns, and five interceptions. He also has 30 rushing yards and two rushing touchdowns on 19 carries.
Should Maurer not be able to play, either Guarantano or Shrout will start in his place. Guarantano was the Vols’ starter to begin the season, leading the offense in the first four games of the year. But he was replaced by Maurer after performing poorly in three of the first four games of the season.
When coming on in relief of Maurer against Mississippi State, the redshirt junior played well, completing six of his seven passes for 106 yards and a touchdown. Against Alabama, it was the complete opposite for Guarantano, as he managed just seven completions on 16 attempts for 55 yards. Plus, his fumble at the goal line after seeming to “go rogue” on the play call was one of the worst plays in recent UT history.
On the flip side, JT Shrout has only appeared in two games this season and didn’t appear in any games last season. Shrout played several series against UT-Chattanooga back in September, and he controlled the offense for one series against Alabama after Guarantano was taken out. The redshirt freshman is 3-of-10 for 23 yards on the year.
Tennessee will hold practice later today, and Pruitt will meet with the media after practice wraps up. He may have more information after then, and we’ll be sure to update as soon as there’s new info.