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Inside Jarrett Guarantano’s Interceptions, Part III

Saving the “best” for last.

NCAA Football: Florida at Tennessee
The second interception against Florida is just bad.
Bryan Lynn-USA TODAY Sports

For the final installment of our series, we will look at Jarrett Guarantano’s first of two interceptions against the Florida Gators.

We already took a gander at the second interception he threw during part two a few days ago. That one wasn’t as bad as this one, unfortunately.

This interception begins with the Vols backed up in their own territory on 3rd and 23. Down 7-0 and on their own 12, they are already at a disadvantage.

What else is new?

Anyway, Tennessee comes out in 11 personnel with two receivers split to the right and Marquez Callaway split wide to left.

The Gators come out in a 4-2-5 (nickel) defense, showing Cover 2 thanks to the two deep safeties and the alignment of the corners. It’s obvious the Gators are just going to sit back and defend what’s in front of them, but that doesn’t stop Tyson Helton from calling a screen pass.

I apologize if the defensive formation appears scrambled, but the Vols snapped the ball before Florida could get set, so this is the best I could work with.

Tennessee snaps the ball and initially the Gators appear to send four, but Luke Ancrum drops into a fire zone, reads Guarantano all the way, and makes the interception.

Usually a fire zone is the product of a five man rush, but since the Gators had already made Guarantano’s life hell at this point - there’s no reason to think they felt uncomfortable sending just three rushers. Down, distance, and field position played a large role, too.

Regardless, this is just an extreme lack of awareness from Guarantano and yet another example of his inability to make the correct pre-snap reads and adjustments.

His technique is also very poor. Firstly, there isn’t a defender anywhere near him, but he never sets up in the pocket like he should. Then, as the phantom rush approaches, he makes an ill-advised throw off his back foot, resulting in the lame pass that is intercepted.

The play was also easy to read based off the center, Rian Johnson’s, movement. Once he immediately took to the middle of the field for a block, it was clear that this was a screen.

Even if Ancrum doesn’t make the play, Johnson and Dominick Wood-Anderson can’t stick their blocks. The likely result would’ve been yet another modest gain, but that would’ve been better than a turnover inside of your own 10-yard line.

I understand that you just want to get off the field in this situation, but you still have to have the discipline and awareness to avoid plays like this.

Florida rightfully scored almost immediately after the turnover, putting the Vols in a 14-0 hole that would only grow larger as the game wore on.

Guarantano has the tools, toughness, and work ethic to become a good quarterback in the SEC, but he MUST work on the mental aspects of the game. His inability to feel pressure, call audibles, or even make the correct pre-snap reads has to get better or else this offense will continue to struggle.

Be sure to check out parts one and two of the series!