Jarrett Guarantano and the Volunteers will try to bounce back against Zach Wilson and BYU.
Tennessee quarterback Jarrett Guarantano (2) throws to a receiver in the first half of an NCAA college football game against Georgia State, Saturday, Aug. 31, 2019, in Knoxville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Wade Payne)

Tennessee Looks to Rebound vs. BYU

Tennessee looks to bounce back from a tough loss against Georgia State, last weekend.

The Volunteers entered the contest as 25-point favorites over Georgia State. Three hours later, they were shocked by the underdog squad, 38-30.

After the loss, Tennessee head coach Jeremy Pruitt spoke about where the Volunteers need to improve before their matchup against BYU.

“We’ve gotta learn from our mistakes,” he said. “We’ve gotta do a better job preparing guys…we’ve had a good week this week. So, we’re looking for much improvement.”

Improving from 0-1 to 1-1 would be a start. BYU also enters Saturday’s contest with an 0-1 record after getting drummed by Utah, 30-12.

Both teams were embarrassed on their home turf, and Tennessee is getting a chance to brush the embarrassment away first. The Volunteers host BYU at Neyland Stadium for a 7 p.m. nighttime showdown on ESPN.

Tennessee is 0-3 in its last three games on ESPN. BYU has fared better with a 2-1 record in such games.

Tennessee Looks to Get in the Win Column

As Tennessee aims to get its first win of the year, Pruitt outlined some of the challenges BYU might present on Saturday.

“You know, when you look at BYU, you see a team that has a lot of experience,” he said. “On the defensive side of the ball, these guys play extremely hard.”

Coach Pruitt also highlighted the strong points of the BYU offense and offensive coordinator Jeff Grimes.

“Offensively, Jeff Grimes is doing a fantastic job of making you defend all parts of the field,” he said. “You look last year, halfway through the year they changed quarterbacks…just the things they’re doing in the run game…they’ve got very good tight ends, good skill players, very well-coached upfront.”

What’s the Situation?

The quarterback situation could determine this matchup.

BYU now has a more stable quarterback situation in Zach Wilson after the Cougars split QB duties last season. However, Wilson struggled last week against Utah with 208 passing yards and zero touchdowns to two interceptions.

To fans, his talent on taps is unquestionable, though.

Tennessee enters the game with junior quarterback Jarrett Guarantano under center. The third-year starter performed better than Wilson last week, although against a weaker defense. He tossed for 311 yards and two touchdowns. He also turned the ball over, throwing one pick.

This game, along with this season, should show continued growth for Guarantano. After a 2017 freshman campaign in which he registered 997 yards with four touchdowns and two picks in limited time, he showed growth in 2018. Last year, Guarantano threw for 1,907 yards, 12 touchdowns and three interceptions.

Wilson’s athleticism and raw talent vs. Guarantano’s experience and steady improvement will be one of the main determinants of the game.

After the game, BYU will return home to face Pac 12 rival USC on Sept. 14. Tennessee will remain home for the third-straight week and play Chattanooga on the same day.

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