(Image from @SwaggerofUT)
Tennessee is going bowling! This team started out in the gutter, but now they have hit a spare.
The team started out at rock bottom with a 1-4 start. According to @ESPN_BillC after the fourth loss to Florida, the Vols had a 0.6% chance of having a 7+ win season and only a 5.6% chance of making a bowl game. The Vols have won 4 of the last 5 games and with a win over Vanderbilt this Saturday, the Vols will end with a 7-5 record. The win over Missouri made Tennessee bowl eligible for the first time in three years!
It’s been a complete turnaround for Tennessee! I don’t know if Guarantano finally figured out what Jim Chaney (offensive coordinator) needed him to do or if Chaney simplified the plays and it just made more sense. Maybe coming off the bench made JG work harder and him being the biggest cheerleader for his teammates when he wasn’t playing earned teams respect. Maybe all of the swelling from the blows he has taken in the pocket the last two years have finally gone down and everything just clicked again. Or maybe he read all the trash I was writing about him and he realized he better get his act together. Whatever it was that happened, it worked!
On Saturday, Guarantano threw a career-high 415 yards in Columbia in his first start since September. The prior six games, he saw playing time off the bench, but lost the starting job.
Not only did JG have a record game, but for the first time in Tennessee football history, three, THREE receivers went over 100 yards. Josh Palmer with six catches for 124 yards. Marquez Callaway also with six catches for 110 years and trip in the end zone. Jauan Jennings ended with five catches, 115 yards and a touchdown. Hashtag, Wide Receiver U!
It also helps when it clicks on the defensive side of the ball too. For the first seven games the Opp PPG (mom, this means how many point they allowed the opponent to score per game) allowed an average of 27 points, but the last four games they have only allowed an average of 15 points per game! Welcome back Daniel Bituli! And those Orange britches sure do look good!
Who would have thought that after that fumble against Alabama that Guarantano would end up completing 61.2% of his passes for 1,817 yards and throw 15 touchdowns to 5 interceptions? No one! With a 153.2 quarterback rating, he is the fourth best quarterback in the SEC.
Thank you, sports gods for AD Phillip Fulmer! He gets it! He finally has the administration and athletics on the same page and the future of Tennessee is bright! Both the men’s (#17) and women’s (#20) basketball teams are ranked and have beaten ranked teams and remain undefeated early in the season.