It was a rough week for Tennessee quarterback Jarrett Guarantano, which is really a shame considering how things started. After a solid first half of play, including two touchdown passes to Josh Palmer, Guarantano (and the offensive line) imploded in the second half.
As we’ve said all week, it’s not totally on Guarantano, but being the veteran that he is, he didn’t exactly make things better during the implosion.
Outside of the ugly turnovers, Guarantano’s accuracy, particularly in the short to intermediate game, has once again been spotty this season. That’s something that Pro Football Focus keyed on as they ranked Guarantano as the 13th best quarterback (of 14) in the SEC this week.
The power rankings, written by Anthony Treash, ranked Guarantano ahead of only Ken Seals, Vanderbilt’s freshman quarterback. Here’s what they had to say.
The biggest negative of Guarantano’s collegiate career has always been his accuracy, and this year has been no different. He has thrown a quarterback-fault incompletion on 18% of his throws this year, which is nearly 3.5 percentage points more than any of the quarterbacks on this list. Guarantano has also made a far higher rate of bad decisions — his 2.8% turnover-worthy play rate from 2019 ranked 25th in the FBS and has nearly doubled to start 2020. Most of those plays have stemmed from plays under duress and have impacted a pressured passing grade of 27.8 (lowest in SEC).
Looking past the the Georgia second half performance, Guarantano struggled for much of the game against South Carolina, failing to make several short throws. Things were better against Missouri as the Volunteers ran through the Tigers, but inconsistencies returned against Georgia. And to be clear, the Bulldogs are going to make a lot of quarterbacks look that way this year. That unit is the best in the country, far and away.
However, those numbers from PFF are tough to argue. Jeremy Pruitt reiterated that Guarantano gives his team the best chance to win on Monday. Brian Maurer and J.T. Shrout each saw time last season in relief of Guarantano, but each guy seems to be a good bit of distance away from getting playing time.
Tennessee has proven that they can handle the teams they’re supposed to handle, but they’re going to have to get more out of the quarterback position if they want to hang with Georgia and Alabama.