Inside the numbers on UT’s last 18 SEC games, Pruitt and Guarantano

ATHENS, GA – SEPTEMBER 29, 2018 – Quarterback Jarrett Guarantano #2 of the Tennessee Volunteers during the game between the Georgia Bulldogs and the Tennessee Volunteers at Sanford Stadium in Athens, GA. Photo By Maury Neipris/Tennessee Athletics

By Vince Ferrara / @VinceSports

To illustrate just how rough the last few years have been for the University of Tennessee football program, I look at some numbers and decided to lay them out for you to digest them as you wish, here in my blog, “Vince’s View.”

Tennessee Football Team

In the last 18 SEC games, dating back to the final regular season game of 2016 vs. Vanderbilt, Tennessee is 2-16. Two and sixteen in the last 18 SEC games dating back to the last SEC game of 2016. Here’s how it shakes out.

2016 (Vandy) 0-1
2017 (season) 0-8
2018 (season) 2-6
2019 (Florida) 0-1
Total SEC Record – last 18 games = 2-16

For some, the unraveling of the Butch Jones era began with the 2016 loss to South Carolina and the Jalen Hurd transfer announcement. However, UT won some games after that until the final week of the regular season came when it traveled to Vanderbilt. With a win, Tennessee was almost certainly headed to the Sugar Bowl for postseason. A Sugar Bowl appearance would have been the program’s highlight mark since the 2007 season’s appearance in the SEC title game under Phillip Fulmer.

Yes, Tennessee won the Music City Bowl over Nebraska after that Vanderbilt debacle in Nashville, but the damage was done and many were done with Butch Jones as the Vols head coach. Plus, the wins have been few and far between since that point in SEC play. Many of the losses being ugly games or embarrassing blowouts. That’s why my numbers listed go back to that Vanderbilt finale in 2016.

During this 2-16 SEC stretch, Tennessee has been outscored 646 to 312. That’s an average of 35.8 points allowed per game to 17.3 scored per game. UT has allowed 40 points or more in 7 of the 18 games. 9 of the 16 losses have been by 25 points or more. Only 4 losses were by one possession. Here are the scores for Tennessee in this most recent 18 SEC game stretch.

2016 (Jones)
Lost 45-34 at Vanderbilt

2017
Lost 26-20 at Florida
Lost 41-0 vs. Georgia
Lost 15-9 vs. South Carolina
Lost 45-7 at Alabama
Lost 29-26 at Kentucky
Lost 50-17 at Missouri
Lost 30-10 vs. LSU (Hoke interim)
Lost 42-24 vs. Vanderbilt (Hoke interim)

2018 (Pruitt)
Lost 47-21 vs. Florida
Lost 38-12 at Georgia
Won 30-24 at Auburn
Lost 58-21 vs. Alabama
Lost 27-24 at South Carolina
Won 24-7 vs. Kentucky
Lost 50-17 vs. Missouri
Lost 38-13 at Vanderbilt

2019
Lost 34-3 at Florida

Here’s the 2019 schedule for Tennessee, with the remaining games for the Vols, including 7 more SEC games to try and turn things around.
vs. Georgia St 2-2 (Lost 38-30)
vs. BYU 2-3 (Lost 29-26 OT)
vs. Chattanooga 2-3 (Won 45-0)
at #10 Florida 5-0 (Won 34-3)
vs. #3 Georgia 4-0 (10/5)
vs. Miss State 3-2 (10/12)
at #1 Alabama 5-0 (10/19)
vs. South Carolina 2-3 (10/26)
vs. UAB 3-1 (11/2)
at Kentucky 2-3 (11/9)
open week
at Missouri 3-1 (11/23)
vs. Vanderbilt 1-3 (11/30)

Jeremy Pruitt Tenure

The Jeremy Pruitt era, starting in 2018, has at least produced the two most recent wins (and against good teams…at Auburn and vs. Kentucky) in SEC play last season, but the lopsided losses have continued.

Overall, Jeremy Pruitt is 6-10 as Tennessee’s head coach. 7 of the 10 losses have been by 25 points or more. UT has allowed 38 points or more in 7 of Pruitt’s 16 games as head coach.

The Vols haven’t been convincing against Group of 5 and independent opponents the last three seasons either, so it may be risky to assume a win over 3-1 UAB. FCS and Power 5 non-conference opponents are not included. UT’s margin of victory in those games the last three years is just 13 points with two losses this year.

Won vs. UMass 17-13 (2017)
Won vs. Southern Miss 24-10 (2017)
Won vs. UTEP 24-0 (2018)
Won vs. Charlotte 14-3 (2018)
Lost vs. Georgia St. 38-30 (2019)
Lost vs. BYU 29-26 (OT) (2019)

Jarrett Guarantano Era

Another area of heavy criticism has been Tennessee’s quarterback play. For the first time since taking over as the starting quarterback against South Carolina midway through the 2017 season, Jarrett Guarantano’s starting job is in jeopardy. Here’s a look at Guarantano’s career numbers.

As a starter: 7-15
SEC games: 2-12 (12 TDs/7 INTs/2,189 yards/156.4 avg yds per game)
Non Conf games: 5-3 (10 TDs/2 INTs/1,397 yards/174.6 avg yds per game)

All games career numbers for Jarrett Guarantano
25 games played
22 starts
299 of 478 (63.3%)
23 TDs
9 INTs
3,640 yards
145.6 passer rating per game avg
Longest completion – 60 yds vs. LSU in 2017
Most completions in a game – 27 vs. South Carolina in 2018
Highest completion pct in a game – 78.3% vs. Kentucky in 2017
Most pass attempts in a game – 40 vs. Georgia State in 2019
Most passing yds in a game – 328 vs. Auburn in 2018
Most passing touchdowns in a game – 3 vs. Chattanooga in 2019

Jeremy Pruitt didn’t sound like he intends to reveal his plans at quarterback for this Saturday’s Georgia game. We’ll find out at or before kickoff if Guarantano will start and get to add to his stats or if the Brian Maurer or JT Shrout era begins in a starting role at the University of Tennessee.


Find more of my broadcasting work at VinceSports.net

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