KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Tennessee coach Jeremy Pruitt says he expects quarterback Jarrett Guarantano to be available Saturday at South Carolina. The sophomore was knocked out of the game early in a loss to No. 1 Alabama last week.
“I think Jarrett’s going to be fine,” Pruitt said Monday. “He took a pretty good shot, a couple of good shots. He’s a tough guy and I expect him to be out there.”
Guarantano left a 58-21 loss to Alabama in the second quarter last Saturday after taking a shot to the upper chest from Alabama linebacker Mack Wilson while making a 30-yard completion to Josh Palmer. Guarantano was hit plenty of other times as well, including a first-quarter sack from Xavier McKinney that resulted in a fumble that led to an Alabama touchdown.
“Jarrett, he’s fine,” Tennessee receiver Jauan Jennings said. “He’s going to fight, going to continue to fight just like everyone on this team’s going to do, and we’re just going to get ready for this weekend.”
Stanford graduate transfer Keller Chryst took over for Guarantano and threw touchdown passes on his first two series.
Chryst, who didn’t enter until Tennessee trailed 28-0, went 9 of 15 for 164 yards. Guarantano was 5 of 10 for 63 yards and was sacked three times against Alabama, one week after throwing for a career-high 328 yards in a 30-24 victory at Auburn .
Although neither Guarantano nor Chryst threw an interception, Pruitt was critical of Tennessee’s overall quarterback performance in the Alabama game.
“We probably had more errors from that position than we’ve had the entire year combined,” Pruitt said. “We’ve got to improve on that. There’s lots of things that go into playing the position. If you’re going to play against a team that’s as well coached as Alabama and gives you multiple looks, you’ve got to be able to redirect the fronts and protection. You’ve got to know where you’re going with the ball because they do a good job disguising.”
There was plenty of blame to go around, as Tennessee (3-4, 1-3 SEC) fell behind 28-0 in the first 11 ½ minutes of a game that showed just how far the Vols still have to go to compete with the Southeastern Conference’s top program.
That game should teach Tennessee plenty of lessons as it prepares for Saturday’s matchup with South Carolina (3-3, 2-3)
“We have a lot of guys who try to compete and play to the standard and expectations, but unfortunately you’ve got 11 guys out there and it takes all 11,” Pruitt said. “Usually the guys that are trying do it the right way, they’re not going to win every battle. That’s part of it. But you’ve got to give yourself a chance.
“That’s unfortunate for some of the guys in our program who do it right all the time, that if we don’t get everyone else to do it, nobody knows how hard they actually played.”
Pruitt says the players who are working hard all the time need to demand the same from the rest of the team.
“For us to get to where we need to get to, we need some of the guys hat do it the right way to demand – whether it’s their roommates, their friends, their teammates – that they get on the same level as them,” Pruitt said.
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