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Pruitt explains decision to play both Bailey and Shrout against Vandy

Tennessee snapped a six-game losing streak in a 42-17 rout of in-state rival Vanderbilt on Saturday.

The game featured three quarterbacks for the Vols, none of which included redshirt senior Jarrett Guarantano who has not appeared in two-straight games now.

Freshman Harrison Bailey got his second-straight start, with sophomore J.T. Shrout seeing significant playing time through much of the first half following a Bailey fumble. Sophomore Brian Maurer came in for a play, tallying a run that went for 22-yards and a first down in the first half.

Bailey was 7-of-7 passing and had a touchdown pass when Tennessee head coach Jeremy Pruitt opted to sit Bailey for the rest of the first half and play Shrout.

Shrout didn’t disappoint, throwing for a pair of touchdowns to help put the Vols up 28-10 at halftime.

Pruitt explained his decision to go with Shrout following Bailey’s overall impressive start to the game aside from the fumble in the red zone that led to a Vanderbilt field goal and lead at 10-7 early in the second quarter.

“We kind of went with a feel for it there,” Pruitt said. “Harrison (Bailey) isn’t going to do anything but improve, right? On the fumble there, lots of things that he needs to work on is not knowing what to do or where to go with the ball, it’s how fast that he plays and that’s normal for a guy that’s going into this league.

“We had a plan to play J.T. (Shrout) because he played really well last week and just to see how he did this week and we thought he did well.”

Bailey ended up starting the second half for Tennessee, tossing his second touchdown of the day, a 74-yard score to Velus Jones with 7:03 left in the fourth quarter.

On the day, Bailey finished 14-of-18 for 207 yards and two touchdowns while Shrout was 6-of-13 passing for 90 yards and two touchdowns as well as an interception.

“We decided to go with Harrison after halftime and gave them both opportunities,” Pruitt said. “They’re both young players and the one thing that they missed with fall camp was the opportunities to play in live-game situations. The way the season started early, it didn’t work out that way so we gave them both opportunities.”

Pruitt made it clear last week that the quarterback position would mostly be doses of both Bailey and Shrout, so expect more of the same when No. 5 Texas A&M comes to Knoxville on Saturday.

Kickoff against the Aggies is set for noon on ESPN.

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