By: Rachel Ward
The All Vol Call in Show
Coming off of a bye week and heading into a matchup against the number three ranked team in the nation in the University of Georgia, the Vols have been constantly searching for small amounts of improvement this season.
Referencing last year’s bye week when talking about last week’s preparations, Coach Pruitt voiced his opinions on the importance of the week.
“I feel like last year in our bye week, we really improved as a football team,” Pruitt said as he referenced to getting the current younger guys ready to play on the big stage.
Those improvements will again be what the team and fan base search for on Saturday as the Vols head into a game that will challenge them immensely.
Topics of conversation regarding improvement have circulated around the quarterback position and who Pruitt will have as his QB1. With Brian Maurer getting play time during the Florida game, questions have increased.
Offensively, all eyes have been on Guarantano every week as the UT fan base searches for improvement. Pruitt had a few comments to make on his QB1 after the Florida loss.
“Well, you know, it’s the thing about playing quarterback, right? You know, I think Jarrett has lots of ability to be a really good player, and I’ve said that over and over, but there are times you have to take the bull by its horns and say ‘let’s go.’ You’ve got to make some plays and you’ve got to have an impact on the people around you,” Pruitt said. “That’s one of the things I’ve been talking to him about. You’ve been around those folks, whether it’s playing sports or in a room or whatever, where somebody’s got positive vibes that makes you feel good and gets excited about being where you’re at and doing what you’re doing. We need a little bit of that.”
Pruitt stated Maurer was put in the game to get Guarantano settled down a bit, and also stated that he believes Guarantano is a good player.
“We’ve got some good football players on our team, and I think Jarrett is one of them,” Pruitt said. “I think he could be a really good player, but our best players have got to play good.”
Furthering the conversation of playing well, Pruitt talked about what it takes to perform on the practice field and execute that same type of play when it’s game time. He stated he needed more from Guarantano and also knows that his test will be on Saturday and all Saturdays.
“You’ve got to take it from the practice field to the game field,” Pruitt said about the mistakes made during the Florida game. “Jarrett is a better quarterback than that and he’s got to play better than that. I feel like we’ve got some playmakers on offense, but for the ball to get to those guys, it’s got to go through a quarterback.”
Is the QB Position Open?
The question many Vols fans have is who will be playing Saturday against Georgia. While Pruitt has not stated that the starting position will be changing, he did state that Guarantano, Maurer and Shrout have been more in rotation during practice, all guys getting more equal reps.
As Pruitt was asked if the quarterback competition was open, he said decisions come down to performance.
“Every position for us, we try to play the best players. The only way you can run a program is that it’s a production based industry,” Pruitt said. “Who competes the best at practice? Who plays the best the last game?”
Pruitt noted that the question of “who will play?” isn’t necessarily an easy one when talking about Guarantano and Maurer.
“It’s a tough situation. He (Maurer) came here to play and we tried to give him an opportunity. He did ok there, but there’s some plays out there he’s got to improve on. That’s the thing. This isn’t like tee ball,” Pruitt said about everyone on his son’s tee ball team getting a chance to play. “It’s not that way. You’ve got to earn it and when you get the opportunity to play, you’ve got to play the right way. You’ve got to play clean football.”
As the Bulldogs come into Knoxville on Saturday, a number three ranked team in the nation won’t be going easy on the Vols’ offense. Like Pruitt said, it comes down to performances on Saturday’s. In terms of who will be the starting QB, it will come down to Pruitt’s earlier statements.
“Our best players have got to play good...you’ve got to take it from the practice field to the game field.”