Tennessee Vols head coach Butch Jones is leading his team to a dark, dark place.
It’s never a calm day if you’re a fan of the Tennessee Vols.
On Tuesday, news broke that Tennessee will start redshirt freshman Jarrett Guarantano at quarterback on Saturday against South Carolina, instead of junior Quinten Dormday.
As a result of the change, Dormady, who has started all five games for the Vols this season, is allegedly “pondering his future” at UT.
A simple quarterback change isn’t that big of a deal. It happens all the time in college football.
But the circumstances surrounding this particular situation are anything but ordinary.
Jones has completely mismanaged the 2017 quarterback competition from the jump. Promises were made that weren’t kept (Like Guarantano getting time against Georgia Tech. I agree with Jones’ decision to only play Dormady in that game, but the promise never should’ve been made.) and choosing to roll with a quarterback that isn’t ideal for Jones’ offense have caused a lot of issues for Tennessee this season.
It doesn’t come as a surprise that Jones is making the move to start Guarantano against South Carolina. This is basically a hail mary from Jones to try to save his job.
Unfortunately it’s probably coming too late. Guarantano hasn’t looked that great in game action (neither has Dormady), but he hasn’t received the opportunity to find any sort of rhythm. Playing a series or two here and there isn’t a good way to find out what a quarterback can do. Guarantano should’ve seen a lot more action against Indiana State — if the quarterback competition was truly “open” and “ongoing”.
But that’s part of the problem. The quarterback competition was never “open”. It was Dormady’s job all along.
Some folks have suggested that Dormady was only named the starter because he’s engaged to the daughter of one of Butch Jones’ close friends. While that situation is well known as fact (it’s not a secret and anyone that is social media savvy can connect the dots, it’s all there), I’m not sure how much it factored into this decision. The Dormady/Guaratano battle isn’t that different from the Justin Worley/Josh Dobbs battle in 2013-14.
Jones is well known for preferring experience over youth. He also puts a premium on ball security. Jones is so afraid of losing a game on a turnover or a missed assignment that he tends to hold the youngsters back, ultimately stunting their development.
The situation with Dormady’s personal life definitely raises some eyebrows, but I don’t think Jones is going to leave a quarterback in control of his team that he doesn’t see fit. This is just who Jones is — he’s proved it since the day he arrived in Knoxville.
And that’s unlikely to change.
The only reason Jones is rolling with Guarantano now is because he doesn’t have any other choice. Dormady, who isn’t a good fit for his offense, isn’t getting the job done. And at this point, the only chance Jones has to save his job is for Guarantano to come in and save the day.
I think Guarantano’s a talented kid, but it’s unreasonable to expect him to go out and perform like Josh Dobbs, against an improving South Carolina team nonetheless.
It looks like it’s too little, too late for Jones. Had he managed his quarterbacks better from the start, he probably wouldn’t be in the situation he finds himself in now.
Fortunately for Jones, he probably won’t be in this situation much longer.