KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Turnovers and special teams are always key factors when evenly matched teams meet, as Tennessee and Florida appear to be, but another position — the quarterbacks — will be under the microscope Saturday in Gainesville.
While the No. 24-ranked Gators have had an ongoing quarterback battle spill over into the season, the No. 23-ranked Vols will start Saturday’s 3:30 p.m. game with junior Quinten Dormady.
Dormady has displayed the type of poise and leadership that all coaches long for, rallying Tennessee from a 2-touchdown deficit in the fourth quarter to beat Georgia Tech 42-41 in double-overtime in both teams’ season-opener.
But Dormady could face new challenges on Saturday in The Swamp, as the Florida defense figures to be the best he has yet to face, and this will be the first true road game he has started in his career.
In fact, because the Gators play a press-man type of pass coverage and Tennessee has inexperienced receivers, it could lead to Dormady being put into position to have to extend plays with his legs and scramble for yardage.
Dormady said he’s up to the challenge, if that’s what’s needed.
“I haven’t had to run much this year … [But] yeah, I think I can,” Dormady said. “Obviously I haven’t had to yet this year, but whenever it does present itself, I’ll be ready and I’ll be able to do.”
Tennessee also has athletic redshirt freshman QB Jarrett Guarantano available out of the figurative bullpen.
Guarantano showed great upside on the four series he played in last Saturday’s 42-7 win over FCS Indiana State, even if he has yet to demonstrate he can throw the ball on timing and/or with anticipation.
SEC Country’s Mike Griffith and WNML’s Josh Ward discuss how Tennessee’s quarterbacks might fare on Saturday in today’s podcast.