Tennessee to start Jarrett Guarantano at QB vs. South Carolina

Tennessee quarterback Jarrett Guarantano (2) runs for yardage in the second half of an NCAA college football game against Georgia Saturday, Sept. 30, 2017, in Knoxville, Tenn. Georgia won 41-0. (AP Photo/Wade Payne)

After Tennessee coach Butch Jones complimented the quality of his team’s bye week, Jones is making a quarterback change.

Jones confirmed Wednesday that Jarrett Guarantano will start at quarterback Saturday against South Carolina, confirming a Tuesday report from VolQuest.com. Quenten Dormady had been the Vols’ starter so far in 2017 after winning the quarterback competition in preseason practice.

“Jarrett Guarantano will be the starter,” Jones said. “He’s worked very very hard. Again, Quinten did some very very good things as well. Like I continue to say all year long, a lot of times the quarterback is a byproduct of execution and everyone around them. Jarrett’s worked very hard and he’ll have that opportunity on Saturday.”

Guarantano, a redshirt freshman, was a highly-rated prospect out of New Jersey in the 2016 class. He’s more mobile than Dormady, but Jones didn’t say if that was a factor that sparked the change.

“We just felt Jarrett has earned the opportunity. We need to score points in this conference and it’s going to take points to win. It’s no reflection on Quinten,” Jones said. “It’s a lot of individuals around him and Quinten has done some good things but you’re always looking for what you feel gives you the best opportunity to win the football game. The scheme is the scheme. The scheme is in place. It’s more that Jarrett’s earned that right and opportunity.”

Volquest.com’s report indicated Dormady was “contemplating his football future at Tennessee” after learning he lost the starting role. Jones said Wednesday Dormady was disappointed, but went out and had one of his better practices of the season.

“Quinten is a competitor. Obviously he was very very disappointed but that’s what you would expect from a competitor,” Jones said. “I thought he had one of his better practices yesterday. He came out and he worked. You’re always one snap away (from playing). We go through life and we have setbacks and it’s how you deal with it. And I think he’s dealt with it very well. Again, he’s been disappointed but when you’re a competitor that’s what you would expect.”

Monday, Jones said Tennessee’s bye week was “one of the best we’ve had.” He also talked about how his quarterbacks can prepare when they’re not out on the field during practice and even used the term “leadership rep.” Via GoVols247:

“But like I told our quarterbacks, you don’t have to get a physical rep to get a rep. You can get a leadership rep by having all the wideouts stand around you, going over your progression and going over what you’re thinking. You can get a mental rep. I know you guys are only at practice for a few couple periods, but when we’re in team reps, all of our quarterbacks are 15 yards behind the ball, and when the ball is snapped they’re going into their drops and they’re talking about their progressions. So there’s a lot of repetitions that can be incurred throughout the course of practice.

“It may not be a physical rep, but it can be a mental rep and a leadership rep. And as we all know, you need every kind of rep to be able to perform at a high level.”

Perhaps Guarantano has been racking up a lot of quality leadership reps lately.

Dormady is 76-137 passing for 925 yards, six touchdowns and six interceptions in 2017. Guarantano has thrown 24 passes, completing 12 for 54 yards and a score. Tennessee is 3-2 on the year but 0-2 in SEC play.

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Nick Bromberg is the editor of Dr. Saturday and From the Marbles on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at nickbromberg@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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