It wasn’t supposed to happen this quickly for Brian Maurer. A former three-star prospect, Maurer signed with Tennessee thinking he would have a chance to compete for the backup quarterback role during spring and fall camp. That much was true. Maurer battled it out with JT Shrout, seemingly winning the job, though it was never officially declared by the coaching staff.
Redshirt junior Jarrett Guarantano had the starting job locked up. This was his time to shine. It was his fourth year in the program and the first under veteran play-caller Jim Chaney’s guidance. Jauan Jennings and Marquez Callaway were back and the offensive line in front of him was boosted by a couple of five-star freshman tackles.
Everything was supposed to get better for Guarantano, but somehow, it got worse. He was bitten with the turnover bug to start the season, throwing four interceptions in his first four games. His missed throws ended up costing Tennessee a chance to put BYU away in the second half. His ineffectiveness was enough for Jeremy Pruitt to do a complete 180 in Gainesville and send his veteran passer to the bench.
Enter Brian Maurer.
As a recruit
The Ocala, Florida native thought he was headed for Ohio State last fall. But the Buckeyes hosted another top-rated passer during his visit to Columbus. That quarterback — Dwan Mathis — flipped to Ohio State that weekend, leaving Maurer out of the Buckeyes’ plans.
Maurer committed to Tennessee on the following Wednesday, giving the Vols their only passer of the 2019 cycle. The 6-3, 199 pound quarterback signed and enrolled early with Tennessee, trying to get up to speed as quickly as possible. About ten months later, that preparation is set to pay off for Maurer.
At West Port High School, Maurer played in a wide open, spread offense. As a senior, he threw for 3,572 yards and 34 touchdowns against 12 interceptions. He completed 65 percent of his passes, averaging 28 completions per game. Maurer added 466 yards on the ground, adding another element to the offense.
What we’ve seen to this point
We first saw Maurer in the spring game, where he came in and led a good looking two minute drive right down the field. His day ended on a couple of sour notes as the true freshman tossed back to back picks to end his day.
The next time we would see Maurer ended up being against Chattanooga as the Tennessee staff got both he and JT Shrout some experience. Maurer went 0-2 passing on the day, but brought a new element to the rushing attack. He ended up scoring for Tennessee on a quarterback sweep — something you will probably see more of as he plays more.
Maurer ended up being who Pruitt turned to against Florida with Tennessee badly needing a spark. To open the second half, Maurer entered the game for Guarantano, who had thrown two interceptions in the first half.
The immediate result for Maurer was points. He led a drive and was able to get a field goal on the board, which was Tennessee’s first points of the day. From there, things were rough. He completed just 4-11 passes during his outing, totalling 44 yards. Maurer tossed an interception of his own and took two sacks.
What can we expect against Georgia?
It’s tough to say because this will be his first time getting a start with a full gameplan installed just for him. You can probably count on more option looks and designed quarterback runs, which is something that should offer a new wrinkle for Georgia.
Maurer has been fearless to this point, which is a good thing and a bad thing. Expect the true freshman to grip it and rip it, which should result in a couple of big plays — and likely a couple of turnovers as well.