Brian Maurer has offered every Tennessee fan hope over these last three weeks. Unfortunately for everyone, he just hasn’t been able to stay on the field. Two concussions in two weeks have seemingly put his freshman season on hold, which is a disappointing development considering the energy that he’s brought to the offense.
Maurer landed on his head during a scramble against Mississippi State, which turned out to be his first concussion. A week later, Maurer battled back to start against Alabama, only to take a shot late in the first quarter that knocked him out again. This after leading Tennessee to a first quarter touchdown.
Jeremy Pruitt turned back to Jarrett Guarantano, who struggled for the rest of the night. The Volunteers would only score six more points over the next three quarters, perhaps leaving an opportunity on the table in Tuscaloosa.
Putting that behind us, Tennessee needs a healthy Maurer down the stretch. Games against South Carolina, Missouri, Kentucky, UAB and Vanderbilt all look fairly winnable with him in the lineup, but it sounds like we could have to wait a week before we see him again.
“We’ve shuffled a few guys in at quarterback, and getting Jarrett and J.T. some reps there,” Pruitt said on the SEC teleconference on Wednesday. “Brian has not took any reps this week, so he’s probably doubtful for this week.”
Without Maurer, that leaves Guarantano as the default starter — unless Pruitt has seen enough to go in a different direction. The redshirt junior has been abysmal this season, so is it time for another change — even with Maurer out?
J.T. Shrout would be the other option. The redshirt freshman hasn’t seen much playing time yet, but a limited look against Chattanooga showed an unpolished player that needed a little more time within the system. But with the play of Guarantano, Pruitt’s hand could be forced to go in a different direction.
“We’re giving them both the same amount of reps,” Pruitt said. “We’re down to two quarterbacks for this week, and J.T. has not taken as many reps in the last couple of weeks. Both of them are taking the same amount of reps.
“Catching J.T. up, getting him locked in, doing some things that he’s comfortable with is important for our staff and important for him.”
Read into that what you will.