At the end of the day, the only statistic that really matters for a quarterback is the team’s total wins. However, that’s not necessarily fair to the quarterback, when there are so many other factors in play that determine a team’s success on the field.
Coming off a 5-7 showing in 2018, Redshirt junior Jarrett Guarantano is set to lead Tennessee into its 2019 campaign under the tutelage of offensive coordinator Jim Chaney, who was lured away from Georgia in the offseason.
Guarantano, a four-star recruit from Bergen Catholic High School in New Jersey, beat out Stanford transfer Keller Chryst for the starting job in 2018, leading the Vols to upset wins over Auburn and Kentucky. He finished the year 153-246 (62.2%) with twelve touchdowns and three interceptions.
By the Numbers
Last season, Guarantano’s 62.2% completion percentage ranked him seventh in the SEC (44th nationally). However, he finished first in the conference in interceptions thrown and tied for first in the nation — a solid stat.
While the overall numbers were solid for Guarantano, I decided to take a deeper look at his passing stats, particularly at the distance of his passes.
In order to analyze Guarantano’s passing game, I wanted to determine his passing breakdown. However, I wanted to eliminate yards after reception from the equation to get an idea of the base distance of Guarantano’s throws. So, I rewatched all 12 games from Tennessee’s 2018 season and charted his passes for distance, side of field and result.
Here’s what I learned:
Guarantano threw 104 of his 246 pass attempts (42.3%) either behind the line of scrimmage or within four yards of the line. He completed 78 of these passes (75.0%).
This chart illustrates Guarantano’s throws in nine different categories of pass result:
- Batted at Line of Scrimmage
- Dropped (a ball a Division I receiver should have caught)
- Miscommunication (wrong route run)
- Pass Broken Up
- QB Hit (not a sack, pass incomplete because of pass rush)
- Thrown Away
- Thrown Poorly
As you would expect, Guarantano’s completion percentage declined the longer the throw, although the percentage of poor throws (throws I determined to be uncatchable) was lowest on attempts between 10 and 19 yards of the line of scrimmage. For those throws, his completion percentage was 5.2% versus 10.9% on throws from <0 to 9 yards from the line.
Guarantano’s numbers held fairly steady against SEC opponents. His overall completion percentage dropped to 56.7 percent against the stiffer competition. The biggest drop off was on throws between 10-14 yards, where his completion percentage fell from 68.6% to 55.0%. He only completed one throw of greater than 40 yards against SEC foes, versus four against non-conference teams.
One number that was interesting to me was Guarantano’s success on third down. His highest completion percentage came on third down throws, where he was 53 of 82 (64.6%). The average distance needed on third down was 8.2 yards.
Guarantano wasn’t willing to throw over the middle very often. In fact, only 18.3% of his passes were thrown between the hashmarks. However, he boasted his highest completion percentage on those throws, clocking in at 68.9%.
Guarantano’s sophomore season was marred by Tennessee’s poor offensive line play, which played a significant role in the high number of short passes. With little or no time to throw, he had to resort to dumping the ball off to a running back in the flat, as evidenced by the 40 throws caught behind the line of scrimmage outside the hashmarks (26.3% of his total completions).
It will be interesting to see how Guarantano’s 2019 season goes. With Chaney, a proven quarterback whisperer, at the helm and the potential for a better offensive line to protect him., Guarantano could be poised to take his game to the next level.