Tennessee quarterback Jarrett Guarantano’s big week didn’t go unnoticed. His career day led to Tennessee’s upset of Auburn and landed him on the Pro Football Focus college team of the week. Guarantano’s grade of 93.3 was tops in the nation for the week.
What was the difference? Guarantano was 18-25 from a clean pocket, something he hasn’t had much of this year. Tennessee’s offensive line has been leaky so far in 2018, but they held their own against a stout Auburn front on Saturday. The bye week likely helped offensive line coach Will Friend sort things out and hit the reset button.
Another stat from the PFF group points out how good Guarantano was throwing the ball downfield. He was helped by Tennessee’s trio of receivers, who won 50-50 ball after 50-50 ball against the Auburn secondary.
Guarantano paced the Volunteers to their first victory over Auburn since 1999 as he was lights out from a clean pocket. He also had no trouble finding receivers downfield, completing 8-of-14 passes for 232 yards and both scores on passes targeted 10 or more yards past the line of scrimmage
Altogether, Guarantano finished his day 21-32 for 328 yards and two touchdowns. It was an encouraging day all the way around for the Vols, but particularly for this offense. Tennessee hadn’t seen offense like this since John Kelly sliced up Georgia Tech. They haven’t seen a legitimate passing game since the Josh Dobbs era.
The sample size remains small for this passing attack, but at least you’ve got actual evidence of an explosive offense now. Can it be sustained? We’ll find out. But they’re showing progress. At the end of the day, that’s all we really wanted to see from these 2018 Volunteers.