Grading Guarantano: The Vols QB had ups, downs in his first career start

Grading Guarantano: The Vols QB had ups, downs in his first career start
Photo Credit To UT Sports

Jarrett Guarantano got his first career start this past Saturday against South Carolina after Tennessee head coach Butch Jones and his staff took the bye week to look over their offensive struggles following a 41-0 beating at the hands of the Georgia Bulldogs.

Guarantano had played in spirts this season, but the match up with the Gamecocks was his first chance at starting the game from the beginning as opposed to some random time when Jones would decide to thrust him into the game.


It truly is hard to grade Guarantano on how he did throwing the ball against South Carolina. He went 11 for 18 for 133 yards with no interceptions and no touchdowns.

It was clear as day that he was handcuffed by the play calling. John Kelly was the featured aspect of the offense, as he was the bulk of the offense during the first half. Guarantano had limited opportunities to throw the ball as Butch Jones/Larry Scott chose to focus on running the ball.

There were some questionable throws, but Guarantano showed late what everyone has known. He has power behind his throws. During Tennessee’s final drive, he threw an absolute laser to Marquez Callaway to keep the drive going. Then another to Brandon Johnson.

The odd part about the playing calling in this game is that (again) the coaching staff had a two weeks to get prepare. There is no doubt in this writer’s mind that Jones and his staff knew they were going to start Guarantano as soon as the clock hit 0 against Georgia. That said, they called plays for him like he was a NFL 5th year journeyman who has a career touchdown-interception ratio of 1 to 13.

Grade: C+


Normally, a quarterback’s grade really isn’t going to include how he did running the ball. However, Tennessee’s offense if designed, and finally adjusted for, a quarterback that can do so.

Yes, at first glance Guarantano’s rushing stat line is awful. He had 17 carries for -2 yards, but wait, a long of 11 yards. Thanks NCAA rules that sacks count towards a quarterback’s rushing stats unlike the NFL’s stat keeping. Guarantano made several nice runs to keep plays alive and give his team a chance.

Unfortunately, receivers had a hard time getting open and the offensive line continued to struggle to give their quarterback time.

Jarrett, trust us, Josh Dobbs feels your plain. Despite the final stat line, Guaratano made plays with his legs. Same as many said with Dobbs, Guarantano needs to learn to learn to stay healthy.

Grade: B


Everyone has seen it. Guarantano spiked his helmet following his incomplete pass to end the game. His helmet actually bounced right back up to him and he spiked it again, then he sat on the field in disappointment. South Carolina’s quarterback Jake Bentley ran over to him, brought him to his feet, and gave him a hug.

There have been questions about Guarantano’s sideline demeanor when he was the back-up to Quinten Dormady.

I wrote speficially about those things. I will be the first to admit I may have been wrong. Guarantano’s post game actions and comments show that he cares. That is much different from some of his teammates that have been tweeting comments about other teams or trashing talking South Carolina. Jarrett Guarantano wanted that win on Saturday. With how hard he played and how hard to took that loss, he’s endeared himself to the Tennessee fan base, despite how upset they are with the head coach.

Grade: A

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