After an offseason of debate and total secrecy from the Tennessee coaching staff, Quentin Dormady got the start at quarterback for the Vols on Monday night. It was hardly a surprise as the junior seemed to hold the upper hand over Jarrett Guarantano all summer.
The initial returns were mixed, however.
Dormady struggled for much of the night outside of a couple of big plays. The offense sputtered all night long, until the 4th quarter. Dormady looked uncomfortable and even inaccurate in the first half. The receivers weren’t helping either. Five drops from the Tennessee pass catchers in the first half were making things a lot worse.
There were more than a few people that were calling for a look at Guarantano during halftime. But the staff stayed firm and kept Dormady out there, which turned out to be the right move.
Tennessee took a pretty conservative approach with Dormady, as we expected. Larry Scott dialed up plenty of screens and short passes, attempting to get Dormady in a rhythm. I’m not sure he ever got totally in rhythm, but you certainly saw some flashes.
This throw was one of those flashes. It was a beautiful toss to the back corner of the endzone. Marquez Callaway came down with it to get Tennessee back in the game.
Marquez Callaway with a heckuva touchdown catch to bring Tennessee within a score. Nice block by Jack Jones — now at right tackle. pic.twitter.com/wjdcTQbeL2— Jesse Simonton (@JesseReSimonton) September 5, 2017
That was pretty easily his best pass of the night. It was a mixed bag from there. If not for a few game-breaking plays from John Kelly and Marquez Callaway, the Vols don’t leave Atlanta 1-0.
Thankfully, Tennessee found a way. That’s all that matters at this point.
They’re going to have to get more out of the quarterback position, though. Dormady’s stat line was a respectable 20-37 for 221 yards and 2 touchdowns, but watching the game painted a different picture.
This isn’t me saying Quinten Dormady isn’t the final answer, either. But the offense has a lot of work to do. The good news is that the offensive line and John Kelly seemed to get better as the game churned on. That’s going to be Tennessee’s bread and butter no matter what.
I was surprised with how much they let Dormady throw, especially with John Kelly having success pretty much throughout the night. I didn’t see 37 pass attempts coming by any means. That’s likely not how Larry Scott and Butch Jones drew it up, but I know they’ll take it.
Tennessee gets a tune up game next week as Indiana State comes to town. They’ll have that game to develop a little more chemistry offensively and maybe perhaps even get a look at Jarrett Guarantano in a live game setting. However, if tonight is any indication — Dormady is the man in 2017.