Jimmy’s blog: Vols must pick up blitz to beat Gamecocks

By Jimmy Hyams

It’s apparent that Tennessee quarterback Jarrett Guarantano has trouble recognizing a blitz and calling pass protections.

It’s no coincidence Guarantano was sacked three times against Alabama and backup Keller Chryst was not sacked once.

Twice, when Chryst saw the blitz coming, he quickly threw fade routes, completing one.

Chryst was the more effective quarterback against the Tide, going 9 for 15 for 164 yards and two touchdowns.

Guarantano was blasted by Alabama linebacker Mack Wilson and suffered either a collarbone or rib injury that forced him out of the game in the second quarter.

Vols coach Jeremy Pruitt has continually said Guarantano is a tough guy, but he also said some of those hard hits the redshirt sophomore has taken are his own fault.

Translation: read the blitz, call the right pass protection or get rid of the ball sooner.

Pruitt wasn’t happy with the overall play of the two quarterbacks against Alabama.

“We probably had more errors from that position than we had in the entire year combined,’’ Pruitt said. “We’ve got to improve on that.’’

Guarantano should be ready to go against South Carolina. He has practiced this week and not appeared to favor any injury.

But if he fails to recognize the blitz against South Carolina and suffers another sack-fumble in the first half, then UT should have a shorter leash and insert Chrsyt. After all, Chryst proved against Alabama he deserves more playing time if Guarantano struggles.

We went undefeated on our SEC picks last week, although five of the games were won more handily that we expected.

Last week: 6-0

Overall: 60-11

South Carolina 24-23 over Tennessee. Will Muschamp continues his mastery over the Vols. UT lack of run game and lack of first-down production haunts team in second half.

Georgia 27-23 over Florida. Who would have thought both teams would be in the top 10 at this time? Georgia has better quarterback play and better run game.

Vanderbilt 23-20 over Arkansas. Hogs pitched a shutout last week so defense is improving. Vandy’s Kyle Shurmur makes the difference.

Missouri 30-27 over Kentucky. Lack of passing game will catch up with Kentucky, but Wildcats defense has been outstanding this season and ranks No. 1 in the SEC against scoring. Missouri passing attack fares much better at home than on the road. Missouri’s Drew Lock makes the difference.

Texas A&M 27-24 over Mississippi State. One of five hard SEC games to predict. Aggies quarterback Kellon Mond has been outstanding at times. State QB Nick Fitzgerald has regressed as a passer but he’s ripping through defenses as a runner. I’ll take the more balanced offense.

Best SEC bets:

We haven’t done well the last 2 weeks but here we go:

Take Tennessee and the 7 ½ points against South Carolina

Take Kentucky and the 7 points against Missouri

Take A&M if you can get 3 or more points against Mississippi State. (Lines I’ve seen have fluctuated)

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