Quinten Dormady? Jarrett Guarantano? Both?
Tennessee Volunteers head coach Butch Jones has a tough decision in front of him leading up to the Vols 2017 season opener against the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets in Atlanta. Both quarterbacks have the talent and unique skill sets, but only one can get the starting nod. Ask any fan and they will you give their reasoning why they think Dormady should start or Guarantano should or that they should split time given the situation in the game.
Jones said at SEC Media Days this summer, “I think playing time is earned, so if both players earn their right to play, we’ll play both quarterbacks. I’ve been in systems where we’ve been able to do that, and really Quinten and Jarrett’s skill sets are very similar to each other. I think we have an offense that really can play to the skill sets of the quarterback and all of the players around.”
He added, “Again, if both players earn the right to play, they’ll both play. Again, it’s how it’s gonna play itself out, because these two individuals are very, very capable and very good football players.”
Lastly, Jones stated, “It’s a good problem to have.”
That’s true. It is a good problem to have. Some programs would love to have the talent of Dormady or Guarantano, let alone the chance to have both on their rosters. You just have to hope this good problem doesn’t turn into a bad one.
Take a look at Alabama in 2016.
Blake Barnett earned the starting QB job for the Crimson Tide in 2016, but struggled early during their season opener against USC. This opened the door for then freshman Jalen Hurts to take over. Barnett played in three of Alabama’s first four games before deciding to transfer, even before the month of September had ended. He landed at Arizona State where he won an appeal with the NCAA and became eligible immediately and is now competing for playing time with the Sun Devils.
Barnett recently did an interview with ESPN where he discussed what happened during his time at Alabama. He said, “According to him (Alabama head coach Nick Saban), I was their guy. Once Jalen went in, I was expecting it. But then he went out on the next series, the next series, and the next series. I don’t know if everything was communicated correctly.”
In the interview, Barnett stated he was aware that the coaches had some offensive packages designed for Hurts, but he was given the impression he would be the primary quarterback.
He added in the ESPN interview, “It wasn’t really how it was told to me it was going to be. How things were communicated, there was a lack of communication. I knew I didn’t want to be involved with that anymore, but fortunately that was the first game of the season – 12, 13 more to go. I put my head down and battled through it. I knew after that first game that I didn’t really want to be a part of it anymore.”
Now let us take a look at Tennessee. If Butch Jones decides to go with a dual quarterback system, he needs to effectively communicate what the plan is to Dormady and Guarantano. Jones could very well manage his two quarterbacks in a better way than Saban did. However, everyone wants to play. No one wants to sit on the bench. Dormady and Guarantano are two young student-athletes that seem have good heads on their shoulders. They have been supportive of each other and politically correct when asked questions about the competition between them. A situation like Barnett’s could not even happen at Tennessee with these two signal-callers.
Every analyst and fan is going to have an opinion on who should be Tennessee’s quarterback going into Monday night against Georgia Tech. As Jones said, it is a good problem to have.
Jones’ problem, if he decides to go with a dual quarterback system, is to make sure he manages it properly. Unlike Saban, he needs to communicate the coaching staff’s plan to both players so one or the other is not left in the dark.
Dormady? Guarantano? Both?
We’ll find out Monday night.
Follow Andrew on Twitter at @AWDarago