The Vols fell to the Arkansas Razorbacks in another muddy QB game. With the 2020 season likely left to die by the side of the road, and any type of championship officially down the drain, it's time to think about the future. Although every team will make a bowl, it's hard seeing the Vols in a good one, such as the Outback or Music City. The Vols will probably go to the Birmingham, Las Vegas, or Liberty at this point. But the topic of this article is not the bowl conversation. We need to sort something out at QB and focus on the future. Here are the cases for and against every QB candidate on the roster.
Jarrett Guarantano, Redshirt Senior
479/785, 6,018 yards, 38 TD, 16 int
191 rush, -56 yards, 4 Rush TD
88/143, 956 yards, 6 TD, 3 int
36 rush, 23 yards, 3 Rush TD
Guarantano is the most experienced QB on the roster and has had mixed results. He all of a sudden turned into an interception machine, but when he's good, he can run a team right off the field. Pruitt had made it clear in 2020 that JG is their QB.
He hasn't been great this year, and he's preventing some of the younger players chances to play and develop. He also suffered a head injury during the Arkansas game. Is it really worth it to rush him back into action?
Brian Maurer, Sophomore
36/80, 542 yards, 2 TD, 5 int
26 rush, 74 yards, 2 TD
1/5, 1 yard
3 rush, 18 yards
When he made his first career start last season, he tossed a 77-yard touchdown pass on his first drive. If he hadn't gotten injured vs Alabama last year, the Vols could of had a better chance at pulling the upset. He has been the quarterback for over half a season in 2019, so he has the experience.
He has been battling a tough off field life and injuries ever since 2019, including a transfer rumor. He has more interceptions than touchdowns and is inconsistent. He had 2 drives to play vs Arkansas but both were 3 and outs.
JT Shrout, Redshirt Sophomore
13/28, 179 yards, 1 TD
3 rush, 4 yards
0/1, 1 int
He made 1-and-a-half starts in 2019 (He took the second snap vs SC after the first was a wildcat). He has a very impressive touchdown pass vs SC. His only other start was against UAB. He also has a cannon for an arm.
Shrout's only pass of the season was intercepted. He has only taken 3 offensive snaps this year, but you cannot make assumptions due to a tiny sample size. Due to his inaccuracy, it's fair to say he isn't ready to lead an SEC offense.
Harrison Bailey, Freshman
7/13, 89 yards, 2 int
2 rush, 7 yards
The 4-star recruit is a quarterback of the future. No one argues against that. The 2020 season is already in the toilet, so why not focus on the future? Don't let his 2 interceptions fool you, as one was a pass batted my the receiver on a play that should of been called pass interference. The other was a desperation end zone throw with 4 seconds left. He has shown glimpses of a veteran quarterback as he led a broken vols team into the redzone on all 3 of his drives as quarterback.
Is it really worth risking that you wreck a freshman's confidence after putting him in too early? Many say that's what happened with JG and Maurer. Shrout took a redshirt, so it may be wise to do the same with Bailey. this season won't count towards eligibility, so the seniors could remain seniors (and sixth year center Brandon Kennedy can return for a seventh collegiate season, yikes). Bailey may not be ready to lead this offense, but he sure deserves it.
Personally, I feel that Bailey needs to start already, but apparently the coaches disagree. If Guarantano is healthy, he'll start, if not, Brian Maurer seems like the option for Texas A&M.
Get ready for the Vols to battle the Texas A&M Aggies at home at 3:30 on ESPN Saturday.