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The time is now for Jarrett Guarantano

It’s time for him to own this offense.

Tennessee v Georgia Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images

Entering his fourth season at Tennessee, it’s time to figure out what Jarrett Guarantano is. The redshirt junior quarterback will be playing for his fourth offensive coordinator in as many years. With a lack of continuity and quite frankly a dreadful offensive line over the last two seasons, you understand why Guarantano’s growth has been slow.

Those factors around him have been a valid excuse. But now with a veteran 1.5 million dollar per year offensive coordinator in Jim Chaney in place, it’s time for the light to come on for Guarantano. To his credit, he made strides last season. Guarantano simply wasn’t ready to play in 2017, but Quinten Dormady was so ineffective that Butch Jones was forced to see what he had.

Guarantano’s 2018 had its flashes, but ultimately was overall ineffective. Offensive line woes forced conservative game plans, despite Tennessee having plenty of talent on the outside. It shouldn’t be forgotten that he took an absolute beating that seemed to wear him down late in the year. Those factors made evaluating Guarantano a tough task, but we should get a clearer picture this season.

According to Guarantano, he’s going to have a lot more freedom in Chaney’s offense — something he didn’t have with Tyson Helton.

“There’s a lot more answers,” Guarantano said. “There’s a lot more control for the quarterback. Of course I like that. I think it’s very effective.”

“There are a lot of hot reads. I can control the protections. I’m very excited for that. It’s just a matter of me being a master of the offense now.”

“There are more hot throws and different coverage beaters. Some of the answers are being able to pick a side and stay to a side. Different things like that. (Via VolQuest)

Of course, that responsibility is a double-edged sword. It sounds like it’s going to be up to Guarantano to get Tennessee in the right plays and protections in 2019. That’s a huge responsibility, but it’s one that every veteran quarterback should carry. Now, as Guarantano said, it’s just about becoming a “master” of the offense now.

If you ask a Tennessee fan what they like about Guarantano, I can nearly guarantee they’ll tell you about his toughness. That’s a great quality to have, but we need to see him have full confidence and control of what’s happening. We haven’t seen that yet.

Above all else, Guarantano has to get it mentally. He’s got to be able to get through his reads quickly and get the ball out of his hands, especially behind what should be a young (but talented) offensive line. I think that’s where Jarrett can help himself the most. He’s flashed the physical tools, but nothing is more powerful than a thorough knowledge of the offensive system for a quarterback.

Guarantano’s limited development is far from being totally on him, but now he’s finally got the tools around him to turn a corner. It’s his fourth season as a college player, he’s got a veteran play-caller, three upperclassmen at receiver — it’s time. Let’s see if he can start to make that leap this spring.