Tennessee head coach Jeremy Pruitt hit the Nashville airwaves yesterday, speaking to 3HL on 104.5 the Zone. Coach Pruitt hit on a number of topics, including the budding quarterback battle.
“Every job is open,” Pruitt told 3HL. “There will be guys on the second and third teams that will develop as players and guy will get opportunities. When they get those opportunities, they’ve got to take advantage of them.”
There is no more important positional battle open than quarterback. Tennessee is going through the offseason with uncertainty at the spot for the second season in a row. Jarrett Guarantano and Will McBride are getting a head start on the race, but incoming senior grad-transfer Keller Chryst is expected to be right in the thick of the race as well.
For Pruitt, he’s looking for a couple of specific things out of his signal callers at this point in the game.
“The big thing that we’re talking about offensively is ball security,” Pruitt said. “I know it sounds cliche, but you want to end every possession in a kick.”
Guarantano threw two interceptions last season on 139 attempts. McBride threw two picks on 40 attempts, for what that’s worth.
“The second thing is, we need guys that can have a positive effect on teammates. Sometimes you’re around a guy that’s got the it factor. Just something about them that makes everyone else want to achieve more — I think that’s important.”
It’s virtually impossible to draw any conclusions from the play of Guarantano or McBride last year. Each guy took snaps behind a really banged up offensive line. The sum of all those parts created statistically one of the worst offenses in college football last year. With a new scheme in place, it’s hard to say what those reps last year even meant — outside of simple game experience.
This quarterback race is going to be an interesting one to follow. I think we’ve kind of assumed that the job is going to be handed to Chryst when he arrives, but I’m interested to see if he can create enough chemistry after his arrival in June. He’s definitely got some catching up to do in that regard.
To Pruitt’s point about ball security, Chryst threw just six interceptions in 289 career attempts at Stanford. He was able to toss 19 touchdowns over that span, which may have been one of the factors that drew the Tennessee staff in.
Tennessee will hit the practice field once more on Saturday, getting set for the coming Orange and White game on April 21st.