Everything Jeremy Pruitt Said About Tennessee's QB Situation on Monday

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Jeremy Pruitt's program appears to be at crossroads with the quarterback situation, and Pruitt faced a multitude of questions about the situation here. We take a look at everything he said here. 

 On the quarterback situation heading into this week…

“Well I’ve talked about it a little bit in the past, obviously, there’s three or four plays in the game that Jarrett (Guarantano) would like to have back. Talked about them Saturday after the game. Same thing with J.T. (Shrout). When you look at Brian (Maurer) and Harrison (Bailey), both of these guys were very limited in fall camp, which is one of the reasons that we’ve continued to have these scrimmages on Sunday night, to try to get these guys kind of caught up, just to give them an opportunity. There’s nothing like live action, and again, we had a scrimmage last night and both of these guys took reps. So, we’ll continue to evaluate that position as the week goes.”

On issues with protecting the quarterback and limiting turnovers …

“Here’s the things about protecting the quarterback. Everybody always starts with the offensive line, but there’s times that we have tight ends in protection. There are times that we have running backs in protection. There are different ways you can do that. It’s a little bit of a combination of things. If you have a wide receiver that runs the wrong route and he’s your hot read, those things play into it. We’ve made enough mistakes all-around offensively that we have to fix it, clean it up and execute at a higher level. Regardless, we have to take care of the football.”

On freshman QB Harrison Bailey’s performance …

“Well, when we put him in, he hadn’t taken any reps for the Kentucky game plan so we just called plays that we knew he would know. Again, I can’t reiterate enough, when it comes to Harrison (Bailey), the lack of opportunity that he got during fall camp. He’s getting more and more reps. When you get ready to play a game, you work one quarterback and you have a backup. The third team guy gets a few reps if he can get it. With Harrison, we’re going to continue to work him and develop him. Same thing with Brian (Maurer), J.T. (Shrout), all of them. There’s only one fall. It’s not camp. We’re not in camp now. We’re in the season and we have to prepare for our opponent which is why we’re having these extra things on Sunday night. Probably, if we can stay healthy, we will continue to do some of this, maybe on the Tuesday and Wednesday practices as well.”

On the problem throwing to the middle of the field …

"Well I think we have to do a better job getting a push upfront. When you throw the ball short over the middle, it usually has to go through the five offensive linemen and four defensive linemen. We’ve got to do a better job of getting a push in the pocket, we’ve got to get our hands up, got to have tighter coverage whether we are playing them inside out or outside in, got to do a better job disguising so they don’t know that it’s there. Every coverage, there is a weakness and you have to be able to hide the weakness and you don’t need to know where it’s at. We have to do a better job disguising also.”

On how Jarrett Guarantano compares in games versus in practice…

"Well, you go back and look and let’s take Saturday for an example; he throws an out route for an interception. They’re playing middle-of-the-field coverage, man-to-man and we run an out route. The corner never gets in a back pedal, he just squats on the route. At wide receiver we have to play with more speed, if the guy is covered – don’t throw the ball. That was a mistake in a couple areas there. We got a chance, we are throwing the ball down the field and we have a chance to throw a check-down and we try to force a ball inside, which we shouldn’t do. There are two spots there that really hurt us. The fumble on the running back, the running back has to avoid the quarterback there. Everybody runs RPOs and we’ve got to get the ball out, we know that we can’t run into the quarterback there. When you’re standing there in the pocket and you get hit from behind the chances are, I played quarterback in high school, when you stand there and you don’t see them coming there is a chance you may fumble the football. We’ve got to understand how our protections are, and again it’s not always on the offensive line; tight ends tied into this, running backs are tied into this. As a unit, we have to do a better job of protecting the quarterback. Jarret has thrown very few interceptions all of fall camp. He’s done a really nice job taking care of the football. That’s why he’s our starting quarterback. He’s really done a nice job taking care of the football. He’s got to eliminate those mistakes and we’ve got to do a better job upfront, collectively as a group offensively being more efficient on third downs and protecting the quarterback, whoever the quarterback is.”

On if Jarrett Guarantano is the starting quarterback …

"When you look at it, Jarrett didn’t play his best game but there are other guys who didn’t play their best game too. He’s going to have to go out here and earn it in practice just like everybody else. Am I wanting to put Jarrett Guarantano on the shelf? No, absolutely not. I think the guy has a lot of really good qualities about him. He’s helped us win a lot of football games. Did he make a few mistakes, Saturday? Sure he did, but I think everybody on our football team and organization all could have done better starting with me. This isn’t about one person. It is about everybody within our program and everybody within our program understands that.”