The Huddle: Who starts at quarterback for Tennessee against UAB?
Luke Thomas (Senior Writer and Analyst)
I believe JT Shrout should get the start at the quarterback position. While Brian Maurer is without a doubt the best quarterback on the roster, he has suffered two head injuries in a two-week timespan; his health is more important than anything else, and Tennessee should NOT put a game above his well-being.
While Guarantano’s game against South Carolina was without a doubt one of his best of the year, and one Tennessee should take into account for this decision, his inconsistency all season is way too big of a risk to take. You simply do not know which Jarrett Guarantano you are going to get. Will you get the Jarrett Guarantano we saw last week that led UT to a season-defining victory, or will you see the Jarrett Guarantano that didn’t give the Vols a chance to win on the road in Gainesville; there’s no way to know.
JT Shrout showed he has what it takes to lead Tennessee’s squad, during their 41-21 victory over South Carolina, and while he may not be the most talented quarterback on UT’s roster, Maurer’s health is not worth putting in jeopardy and Guarantano’s inconsistency is too big of a risk for the Volunteers to take. I have to go with JT on this one, with a lot of Jauan Jennings in the wildcat.
Matt Ray (Managing Editor and Founder of VR2)
This really comes down to the status of how healthy Brian Maurer is. There cannot be a gray area when it comes to a concussion, and this Tennessee staff knows that. When Maurer took over at the helm of the quarterback position, Tennessee immediately started showing signs of new life. Maurer was the catalyst that provided the spark, and it was very evident that this team trusted the freshman signal-caller. What makes this call so tough is you cannot jeopardize his health, even though he is the guy that can push this team even further into postseason contention.
JT Shrout will likely a significant amount of snaps, even if he does not get the start. Shrout is a Jim Chaney quarterback, plain and simple. He drives the ball downfield with ease, and he is the perfect option for the guys catching passes on the edge. The real drama in this room will be created if Shrout puts on a show against the Blazers, and sparks more debate about if he should be the new number one moving forward, regardless of who is healthy. In my opinion, there is a good chance that whoever takes the majority of the reps this game will make a strong case to be the starter for this pivotal push. Especially if Tennessee comes out of the gates with the same sense of urgency that they have had for the last four weeks.
I am going to say Brian Maurer gets the start in this one because I believe he is the guy that this staff trust to get them into the postseason. I would not be surprised to see all three quarterbacks in some fashion, and I fully expect to see Jauan Jennings in the wildcat. This debate could get a lot more interesting if one of these guys put on a show. This is not going to be a Chattanooga type game, where Tennessee just out-manned them from the start, but the Vols have a significant talent advantage. Attacking the Blazers vertically will be the key in this one, which is what makes this debate so integral.
Featured Image via Brian Maurer’s Twitter