The Tennessee Volunteers Should Go Back to Dormady

Recruiting rankings mean nothing when a 14–quarter scoreless stretch coincides with Jarrett Guarantano’s stint with the first team.

Do you get the feeling Quinten Dormady’s supposed shoulder injury, which we never heard about until he was benched, is an attempt to quell a quarterback controversy?

Think about it. He continues to suit up, he continues to be listed on the depth chart, and the moment the Tennessee Volunteers’ touchdown drought started was the third quarter of the Massachusetts game, the very quarter Jarrett Guarantano started to get first team reps.

The switch isn’t working. And if this season is to be salvaged, and it can be, it likely isn’t going to be salvaged with Guarantano.

So why stick with him? Butch Jones is literally gambling his entire career on a freshman who has shown absolutely nothing in two starts and two relief appearances.

Guarantano is averaging four yards a pass. That’s like a baseball player hitting .175.

The only positives Tennessee have had this year came with Dormady at quarterback; a come-from-behind victory at Georgia Tech, getting the job done against Indiana State, and leading the Vols back from a 10-point deficit to put the pass in the mitts of John Kelly that should have won the game! Heck, Dormady is the one who put the points on the board against UMass.

It seems obvious Dormady is the better option for 2017. So why isn’t he back in?

Is it only because Guarantano is a freshman, so the feeling is he has better upside potential? Josh Dobbs lost his first four games at Tennessee and started his career with a 0 to 5 touchdown-to-interception ratio.

Jones’ other options at the time was Nate Peterman, who struggled in his limited action but then went on to be a star at Pitt and is higher up on his NFL depth chart than Dobbs is on his.

But Dormady succeeded in a Tennessee uniform where Peterman failed. Frankly, the only reason Dobbs wasn’t redshirted in 2013 is Justin Worley got hurt. Though I think Peterman will be the better pro than Dobbs, I can see why Jones didn’t return to Peterman when Dobbs struggled. Ultimately Jones will look shortsighted, but he did not feel he had any other viable options than Dobbs in 2013 and it was best to build for the future. And that was the conventional wisdom.

But now Jones is coaching for his job. And with two quarterbacks already committed to Tennessee in next year’s recruiting class and Dormady a viable option, if Guarantano leaves, will you weep?

No more than when Peterman left.

Maybe that’s the whole thing. If Dormady returns, and Guarantano transfers and becomes a big star, that will be three quarterbacks that have gone on to become stars after leaving Knoxville under Jones. Even if Dormady wins out, the critics would be there in future seasons for Jones if Guarantano succeeded elsewhere.

Dormady? Less likely. He’d go to an FCS school in all likelihood so he doesn’t have to sit a year. And even if he put up big numbers there, unless he became a successful pro like Joe Flacco did under similar circumstances it wouldn’t come back to haunt Butch.

But do you see Guarantano playing well enough down the stretch for Jones to keep his job? I realize Nick Fitzgerald rushed for 115 yards last week against Kentucky, and the idea is the supposed-but-we-haven’t-seen-it-yet dual threat Guarantano is better equipped to take advantage of such defensive flaws.

Jones is in no position to coach for tomorrow. He likely could still keep his job if he won out. Look for a quick hook against Kentucky if Guarantano continues to struggle.

Marky Billson Hosts Tri-Cities Sports NOW 12–2 p.m. ET weekdays on 1420 NBC Sports Radio Tri-Cities. Listen to him here.