The quarterback position has been a source of inconsistency for the Vols since Josh Dobbs was drafted by the Pittsburgh Steelers following the 2016 season. This year has been no different, as after a 2-0 start, Jarrett Guarantano was up-and-down in losses to Georgia, Kentucky, and Alabama.
Guarantano made some nice throws against the Bulldogs and Crimson Tide, but turnovers were an issue in the second half of the game against UGA, and it got him benched against the Wildcats following two pick-sixes. Redshirt sophomore J.T. Shrout was unable to take advantage of Guarantano’s benching, throwing an interception on his lone possession in the game.
Guarantano started against Alabama the week following his benching. All indications are that he’ll once again start against Arkansas this weekend, but that didn’t stop the Vols from making sure all four of their scholarship quarterbacks received the same amount of work during the bye week.
“We repped three groups last week, so we went back and didn’t have enough to do four, but we did do three groups,” Vols head coach Jeremy Pruitt said on Monday to kickoff Arkansas week. “So we split the quarterbacks amongst those three groups and got them a lot of reps there.
“We went back to fall camp. In fall camp, we usually work four groups all the time, and everybody gets the same amount of reps — at every position. That’s why we believe that players develop. It’s because we spend that much time working on four groups. We split the staff up. We watch every bit of the tape. This past week, we kept some guys out of practice to help them heal up a little bit — a few guys — so we only worked three groups. But we still went back to camp mode. We worked very little on future opponents. We worked more on ourselves and the fundamental part, so just — like I said — Day One, Two, Three, Four, Five of install, just trying to get back to the basics.”
Keeping it simple will be key for the Vols finishing out the season on a high note. Doing so could result in less turnovers which has plagued the offense as a whole. Tennessee’s turnover margin of -2.0 ranks 67th in the country and tied for ninth in the SEC.
Tennessee turns its attention to Arkansas (2-3) following the bye week. The Vols will be in Fayetteville on Saturday night for a 7:30 p.m. ET kick on the SEC Network.