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SEC coaches speak anonymously about Tennessee to Athlon Sports

Their comments line up with our concerns.

NCAA Football: SEC Football Media Day Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

In the final week of the summer without actual football activity to report, we have more anonymous comments from opposing SEC coaches. These come from Athlon Sports and are much more kind than those that came from Lindy’s earlier in the summer.

Opposing coaches raised questions about Jarrett Guarantano, the defensive transition and an overall lack of playmakers. These are legitimate concerns that we’ve all discussed this offseason.

Jarrett Guarantano

“There are some really good quarterbacks in this league, and not many were more highly ranked than Jarrett Guarantano. But he sure didn’t play very well last year when he got a chance. He holds onto the ball too long and takes some unnecessary hits. He has to step his game up.”

Spot on comments here. Guarantano was never comfortable in the pocket and played hesitant. He was tossed into an offense that was already one of the NCAA’s worst and was forced to play behind a banged up offensive line.

“Guarantano, I don’t think, is a dual threat like people think. He has a good, live arm, but he’s not a dynamic spread-offense runner. To be fair, I don’t know that he is surrounded by a lot of weapons on the perimeter.”

Guarantano wasn’t playing with much talent last year. Luckily for him, he’ll have a few added pieces for 2018. Jauan Jennings returns, along with Marquez Callaway and Brandon Johnson. Tight end Dominick Wood-Anderson could add a dynamic threat over the middle, while homerun hitter Ty Chandler will see an expanded role in the backfield.

Of course, Guarantano has to win the job first. He’s set to begin battle with Keller Chryst in camp later this week.

Front Seven

“They have done a poor job stopping the run in the past few years. I don’t think they are very big or strong in their front seven, and I don’t think they have the players on the perimeter at the corner positions that Coach Pruitt and that group is used to having. I think they are okay at safety. They have a good player in Nigel Warrior. He’s someone they can build around.”

That front seven didn’t show us much in the spring game, unfortunately. The current group is undersized for Pruitt and Sherrer’s 3-4 scheme, which could create some growing pains in 2018. However, newcomers like Emmitt Gooden, Kingston Harris, Greg Emerson and John Mincey could help remedy that situation.

Darrin Kirkland Jr.

“Darrin Kirkland is a key guy at linebacker. If he comes back from injury, he has the potential to be an upper-level SEC linebacker. But other than that, I don’t see a lot of playmakers on that defense.”

Kirkland remains a bit of a question-mark coming off of his injury last season. His veteran leadership should be an asset, however. Daniel Bituli, Quart’e Sapp and J.J. Peterson give Tennessee plenty of talent and depth to utilize in the teeth of the defense.

You can view the full article and see all of the comments over at Athlon Sports.