Tennessee football: Evaluating offense’s struggles

Tennessee football (2-4) struggled once again on Saturday against Arkansas Razorbacks. It marked the Vols’ fourth loss of the season, advancing their losing streak to four games. What was supposed to be a breakout season for the Volunteers is nothing but a disappointment lately, and their next scheduled game against the Auburn Tigers has been postponed due to COVID-19.

A crucial part of the Volunteers’ lack of success is their offense. In the preseason polls, Tennessee was expected to do big things with its offense especially under the leadership of Trey Smith, who was named to the preseason All-SEC First Team.

Unfortunately, the offense is a train wreck, and it has been most of the season. Here are three reasons to answer why the offense is struggling.

Underperforming quarterback

The quarterback position for Rocky Top has been nothing but, well, rocky this year. Excuse the pun. The fifth-year senior Jarrett Guarantano is proving haters right that he is not a true dual-threat quarterback. Guarantano still hasn’t earned his coaching staff’s trust to really allow him to throw the ball. The veteran QB has been taken out of numerous games for his below-average performances. But, game after game, head coach Jeremy Pruitt still puts Guarantano in as the starter.

Pruitt seems to have a lot more hope and faith in Guarantano than anyone else in the Tennessee football program. He continuously refuses to give freshman Harrison Bailey a shot at starting. At this point in the season, a quarterback change might be beneficial for the Vols offense.

It all comes down to the inconsistency and uncertainty in the quarterback position. A team in the SEC absolutely cannot win games without a solid, steady quarterback, and the Volunteers continue to validate that every time they face an upsetting loss.

Overestimating the O-Line

Tennessee’s offensive line was completely overestimated this preseason. It was supposed to be the Vols’ primary weapon. There was high hope for the dynamic duo of Cade Mays and Smith. In addition to Mays and Smith, Wanya Morris, Brandon Kennedy, Jerome Carvin and Darnell Wright were all returning starters for the 2020 season. Many preseason polls even had Tennessee’s offensive line ranked top five in the SEC. Unfortunately for the Vols, the offensive line is not as strong as many people believed it would be.

Lack of Aggressiveness

When watching the Vols offense, you can tell the players are timid. Maybe from the lack of trust in the quarterback, the play calling or some other reason, there is definitely a noticeable lack of aggressiveness. Pruitt came to that conclusion after the loss to Arkansas when he met with reporters.

“We have to be more explosive on offense,” Pruitt said. “You’re not going to win games in this league scoring 13 points. We didn’t turn the ball over, but we’ve got to be more explosive.”

Teams will not win football games by scoring two touchdowns a game, especially in the SEC. In the last four games, the Vols scored 58 points but allowed their opponents to score 150 points. The Volunteers’ win-loss record is lucky its game got canceled because the team has another week to work out its kinks at practice.