KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Tennessee football isn’t any closer to having a two-quarterback system after its 42-7 win against Indiana State on Saturday, but the Vols are still committed to playing two quarterbacks.
It’s just a matter of when and how much they will play as the season progresses.
“I’ll know a little bit more when I watch the film; I thought we left a lot of plays out there in the first half,” said Tennessee coach Butch Jones in assessing his team’s quarterback play. “But you look at the efficiency of throwing the football, I thought they did some good things.
“Both these individuals need to continue to gain valuable repetitions.”
Junior Quinten Dormady made the second start of his career on Saturday and produced a 13-of-18 passing performance that netted 194 yards and 2 touchdowns.
But Dormady also threw his first interception of the season and he fumbled while taking a sack, giving the FCS Sycamores prime field position that led to their only touchdown.
Redshirt freshman Jarrett Guarantano was 4-of-12 passing for 41 yards with a touchdown and rushed twice for 6 yards.
Guarantano, seeing his first collegiate action, was better than his numbers indicated. He delivered three deep passes accurately that were dropped and he was hit while throwing another one of his incompletions.
Jones inserted Guarantano on the Vols’ third series in the first quarter, showing confidence in the young dual-threat quarterback by trotting him on the field as Tennessee took over on its own 6-yard line.
“It really wasn’t scripted [preplanned]; I told him to be ready,” Jones said. “It could be the second [series], it could be the third. He had a very good week of preparing in terms of taking the mental reps when he wasn’t in.”
Guarantano led Tennessee on two touchdown drives of the four series he directed. The first, a 5-play, 60-yard drive, featured an 18-yard completion to tailback John Kelly.
Guarantano’s second touchdown drive was on the Vols’ final series. Guarantano scrambled 12 yards on a third-and-8 to move the ball to the Sycamores’ 11-yard line, and two plays later, he connected with Jeff George for an 11-yard touchdown.
“I was excited from the things I saw from both quarterbacks,” Jones said. “I liked the way they managed the line of scrimmage.”
Jones said he was impressed with how Dormady checked properly when confronted by one of Indiana State’s pressure looks in the red zone in the second quarter.
“One off the key plays of the first half that makes you feel good as a coach [was when] they were in cover zero [no safety help],” Jones said. “We made the appropriate check to the appropriate protection and then Brandon [Johnson] did a good job of high-pointing the ball and getting it.”
Johnson’s 19-yard touchdown catch was the first of his career and gave Tennessee a 28-0 lead as the teams headed to halftime.
Dormady, who played the entirety of the Vols’ 42-41 win over Georgia Tech on Monday night, said the play was actually designed for one of the Yellow Jackets’ blitzes last week.
Tennessee is scheduled to play at Florida next Saturday at 3:30 p.m. The Gators (0-1) canceled a game they had scheduled with Northern Colorado on Saturday.