Former Tennessee Vols quarterback Jarrett Guarantano is one of the most intriguing players to suit up for UT in recent memory.
Guarantano, who transferred to Washington State after the 2020 season, didn’t have a lot of success at Tennessee, but he was an extremely tough kid who battled through injuries and terrible offensive line play to be on the field as often as possible.
Unfortunately for Guarantano and the Vols, that toughness didn’t translate to wins.
In Guarantano’s final season at Tennessee, the Vols finished with a 3-7 record.
Part of the reason Tennessee struggled so much in 2020 was poor offensive play. The Vols averaged only 21.5 points per game last season — not exactly a recipe for success in the SEC.
Unsurprisingly, Guarantano, along with offensive coordinator Jim Chaney, shouldered much of the blame for the Vols’ ineffectiveness on offense.
But then-head coach Jeremy Pruitt likely deserves just as much blame — if not more.
Rocky Top Insider’s Trey Wallace sat down with A to Z Sports’ Austin Stanley this week in Hoover at SEC Media Days to talk Vols. Wallace shared an interesting story about JG and Pruitt that sheds some light on why the offense struggled so much.
According to Wallace, Pruitt made a decision during Tennessee’s matchup against Auburn in 2020 that likely cost the Vols a shot at the win.
Tennessee was trailing Auburn by three with under three minutes to play in the third quarter. The Vols had a 2nd-and-7 situation at the Auburn 12 yard line. Instead of letting Chaney make the play call, Pruitt called to the box and ordered a pass play. The particular pass play hadn’t been practiced in this situation. Guarantano was quickly pressured and ended up throwing an interception into the hands of Tigers defensive back Smoke Monday, who returned the ball 99 yards for a touchdown.
SMOKE MONDAY 100-YARD PICK-SIX 💨💨 pic.twitter.com/dHEsX7bzYT
— SEC Network (@SECNetwork) November 22, 2020
The Vols lost the game 30-17.
You can listen to the story beginning at the 26-minute mark.