KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — The Tennessee offense needs to turn frustrations into productivity quickly.
Tennessee redshirt sophomore quarterback Jarrett Guarantano will receive his first start Saturday against South Carolina. He will need the wide receiver unit to make plays in order to be successful.
Redshirt senior wide receiver Josh Smith said at a Tuesday media availability session that he is upset with his unit’s production this season.
“I’m frustrated, but it’s at the point where, it’s not the play caller’s fault,” he said. “It’s so easy to blame anybody. But yeah, I’m frustrated. I’m a fifth-year senior getting 3 catches. Like, what? You have an NFL dream. It would be frustrating to anybody.
“But I care more about this team than I do myself.”
Smith has 20 receiving yards from those 3 catches. He has only played in 3 games because of a shoulder injury he sustained in preseason practice.
Smith isn’t the only wide receiver who has struggled this season. The entire group has to this point.
Sophomore Brandon Johnson is the only wide receiver to tally double-digit catches. He has 18 catches for 205 yards and a touchdown.
Sophomore Marquez Callaway is next among wide receivers with 8 catches for 198 yards and 3 touchdowns.
Smith said people have blamed the coaches and quarterback Quinten Dormady for the offensive struggles. The problems lie deeper, though, with execution being the biggest problem.
“People want to blame [offensive coordinator Larry] Scott and other things,” Smith said. “People want to blame Quinten, but they don’t know the meaning of the play. Y’all just see the quarterback [and] oh, he’s about to throw it. They don’t see the receiver that has to run a 15-yard dig and he’s running a 12-yard dig or vice versa. Like, you’ve got to put it in that perspective.”
In the 26-20 Florida loss on Sept. 16, Dormady threw a 16-yard pick-6 to C.J. Henderson early in the fourth quarter. The ball was high and it went through Callaway’s hands for the easy interception. Callaway’s curl route stopped about 2 yards from where Dormady was expecting.
These mistakes will have to be resolved by the wide receiver group for the sake of Guarantano.
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