KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Tennessee had only one scholarship quarterback available in the loss against LSU on Saturday, and he wasn’t even completely healthy himself.
An injured ankle has limited redshirt sophomore Jarrett Guarantano after missing the previous game against Missouri, but he gutted his way into a solid performance. Guarantano completed 13 of 23 passes for 239 yards and a touchdown. He didn’t commit a turnover, which was possibly just as important.
It was clear Guarantano’s mobility was limited, but he continues to improve at understanding the nuances of the position.
“He did a lot of things that we wanted him to do,” Vols interim coach Brady Hoke said after the game. “Some of that is the little things. Carrying out the fake, so the backside player couldn’t slice as fast. He did that well, I thought. We talked about all week, balls down the field. Give our guys a chance to at least go and compete. I thought that happened.
“I’d rather him not get hit, and he took a couple of hits. He’s proven to a lot of us, he’s a pretty tough kid.”
The lone touchdown pass is a perfect example of what Hoke was talking about.
Guarantano threw a lob pass down the left sideline to Marquez Callaway in the second quarter. Callaway had only one defender on him and he was able to make a play on the ball. The play resulted in a 46-yard score.
Guarantano showed some grit fighting through the injury, leaving a positive impression on his team.
“He put up a good fight for having his ankle in the condition it was,” senior tight end Ethan Wolf said. “We’ve had respect for Jarrett from the day he got on the field. He’s been a tough player for us and I’m proud of him.”
Junior Quinten Dormady had shoulder surgery, which has sidelined him for the season. Freshman Will McBride wasn’t ready to go after taking a beating against Missouri.
Tennessee’s backup quarterback was walk-on freshman Seth Washington.
There’s still plenty to work on with only five starts under Guarantano’s belt. He still has to work on game management and getting rid of the football quicker in the pocket.
Guarantano might be the future of the Tennessee offense, though. He’s proving he has the toughness to do the job.