For Jarrett Guarantano, his college career hasn’t exactly gone to plan. The former four-star quarterback prospect signed with Butch Jones with hopes of quickly taking over the position after Joshua Dobbs exited the picture. While he was able to do that, it’s been anything but smooth since.
Now entering his fifth year at Tennessee, this will be Guarantano’s first season with the same offensive coordinator as the year before. Jim Chaney has finally brought some stability back to the Tennessee offense, something that could pay off as early as this month.
For Guarantano, it was just nice not to start from ground zero for once.
“My game is a lot less indecisiveness,” Guarantano said last week on a Zoom call with reporters. “There’s the pre-snap read, post-snap read. There’s the communication aspect. There’s being able to talk guys through some things. It’s a complete different sense of feel out there with me, I feel like, right now just in the sense of myself.”
Guarantano entered 2019 as the starter, but was quickly replaced by Brian Maurer after a rocky start. Maurer energized the offense, but suffered two concussions that forced Guarantano back into action. While things weren’t always perfect, Guarantano helped the Tennessee offense win football games late in the going. The trick for him now is figuring out how to offer more consistency for four quarters.
“I feel like I’m more comfortable,” Guarantano said of year two under Chaney. “I feel like a lot of the guys see that I’m more comfortable and confident in my abilities and the way that I can mentally inject my way into the game. I’ve always felt like I was a smart football player, but being able to have year two under a same offense, it allows me to kind of show it a little bit.”
Guarantano threw for 2,158 yards and 16 touchdowns against eight interceptions in 2019. He was more aggressive than he was in 2018, which is something that should continue to improve as his comfort level rises. The interesting aspect for Guarantano will be playing without Jauan Jennings and Marquez Callaway, two receivers that made things much easier on the quarterbacks last season. Tennessee will be leaning on several new pass catchers in 2020, and chemistry between that group and Guarananto will be a vital factor going forward.
Added continuity comes at a really good time for Tennessee, which such a strange offseason this year. It’s a very good thing that the Chaney install was done in 2019, perhaps giving this offense a bit of a leg up entering the fall. Outside of receiver and tight end, this is a group that has plenty of experience.
Guarantano certainly has the experience, and Jeremy Pruitt needs him to put all the puzzle pieces together in 2020.