KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Tennessee redshirt freshman Jarrett Guarantano will have something to smile about on Saturday, as Coach Butch Jones has committed to playing him against Indiana State.
“We have two very quality quarterbacks, and for us, we’re going to need to play both quarterbacks,” Jones said following Thursday’s practice.
“You see the dynamics that surround college football and you need more than one quarterback, so again, it’s getting Jarrett the ample reps he needs to perform on Saturday along with Quinten (Dormady),” he said. “Our practice structure allows for that to happen, and we’re going to play both quarterbacks on Saturday.”
Tennessee begins the home portion of its schedule at 4 p.m. on Saturday against the FCS Sycamores at Neyland Stadium.
Dormady, a junior, won the starting job in the offseason and performed admirably in the No. 21-ranked Vols season-opening 42-41 double-overtime win over Georgia Tech at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta on Monday night.
Dormady was 20-for-37 passing for 221 yards and 2 TDs, marching the Vols 93 yards on seven plays to engineer the game-tying touchdown drive in the final minutes and send the game into overtime.
“He did some good things, and obviously many things to improve upon,” Jones said, assessing Dormady’s performance. “The starting quarterback is like a starting pitcher in baseball, you are gauged on your won-loss record, and we made the plays when we needed to.
“(Dormady) put the ball in some locations that he needed to, but also his footwork, movement in the pocket, things like that, he knows he needs to make the progress and progression from Game One to Game Two.”
Offensive coordinator Larry Scott said the quarterbacks’ roles were clearly defined for the Georgia Tech game, but things could change quickly moving forward.
“Once we said we were going to roll with Quinten, he was the quarterback and we were going to go and let the game come to him and let him go out and be the quarterback for the University of Tennessee,” Scott said Thursday.
“JG (Guarantano) is going to have to always be ready play, and he’s going to have to always prepare and approach the game like he’s the starter and be ready to go in at the drop of a dime. We all know football turns really quickly.”
ESPN cameras spied on Guarantano’s disappointment of not being in the game on Monday night.
Analyst and former Ohio State quarterback Kirk Herbstreit questioned why Guarantano not sitting closer to quarterbacks coach Mike Canales and Dormady when the Vols’ offense was off the field.
Jones defended Guarantano, however, saying that he doesn’t put backup quarterbacks on the headsets, anyway, and that Guarantano is a team player who respects all of his teammates.
Dormady said things were normal in the film room and on the practice field, and that he could understand where Guarantano’s disappointment was coming from having gone through the same thing himself sitting behind Josh Dobbs.
Jones said he’s not sure when Guarantano will get into the game.
“In your mind you have a feel for it,” said Jones, 16-4 in his last 20 games at Tennessee. “But a lot of times it goes unscripted, as well.”