Staff Writer, SEC and Fantasy Football
Earlier this week I took a look at the Quarterback situations around the SEC East. I held off on discussing the situation in Knoxville so I could break it down more. The entire off-season Vols fans were left in the dark, being told only that it was an open battle between Quentin Dormandy and Jarrett Guarantano.
The Vols opened the season behind Dormandy and he didn’t look good against Georgia Tech. He looked nervous, uncomfortable, and awkward. He spent most of the night staring down his receivers and misreading routes. He isn’t quite inspiring either, although he does resemble a Peyton Manning who doesn’t quite fit into his pads. Instead he wears long sleeves that yells “please sack me” to opposing defenses. Quentin “Sleeves” Dormandy has proved to be a safe player, throwing underneath and managing the Vols low powered offense.
I was in Knoxville for the Indiana State game and I expected to see a lot more out of Sleeves, crediting his bad start to nerves and a potentially tough Georgia Tech offense. What I saw was more of the same, Dormandy consistently missed his receivers and Butch Jones continues to think that Dormandy can fit into a read offense that fit Dobbs’ style. The fans around me consistently called for Guarantano, frustrated that this high profile recruit was sitting on the bench, likely mulling over where he wants to transfer to and seeing his talent wasted week-in and week out.
Guarantano came trotting out at the beginning of the second quarter and Neyland Stadium exploded. The crowd got loud and 102,455 people turned to the scoreboard to see the 6-4, 200 pound quarterback take the field. He has a great presence to him, rocking the #2 with his sleeves tucked under his pads, an intimidating swagger which starkly contrasts Dormandy. The fans loved it, cheering loud for the spark that the offense desperately needs.
If you look at the stat line Dormandy does seem like the better choice; he’s 33-45 for 415 yards, 4TD, 1 INT. Guarantano, in his limited play, is 4-12 for 41 yards, 1 TD, 0 INT. Dormandy is the safe pick for the Vols, he can manage the game but he won’t win them the SEC East. Guarantano needs some refining, he’s young and inaccurate but he’s got a cannon. Even more important, he’s got speed and fits perfectly into the offense Butch Jones is trying to run. Guarantano provides an actual threat to the read option. It will allow Tennessee to expand the role of the Quarterback position and take pressure off John Kelly.
If the Vols want to beat teams like Florida, Georgia, LSU, and dare I suggest Alabama they will need to have a dynamic player leading their offense. They need to turn to Guarantano to create a deep play threat and take pressure off John Kelly. You don’t win the SEC playing it safe.