KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – After securing bowl eligibility for the first time since 2016 with last weekend’s road win at Missouri, the Vols will look to extend their winning streak to five games when they welcome in-state rival Vanderbilt for the regular-season finale at Neyland Stadium.
A Tennessee win on Saturday would secure an undefeated record in the month of November for the first time since 2015 and would also end a three-game losing streak to the Commodores.
While UT’s defense has led the way during the impressive late season run, it was the Vols’ offense that carried the team in the win over the Tigers.
Redshirt junior quarterback Jarrett Guarantano had the best game of his career, throwing for a career-high 415 yards and two touchdowns while the Big Orange had three receivers finish with over 100 yards receiving (Josh Palmer, Jauan Jennings, Marquez Callaway) for the first time in program history. Guarantano was named the SEC Offensive Player of the Week on Monday for his performance.
“Jarrett did a really nice job keeping us in the right plays and made some good throws,” head coach Jeremy Pruitt said in his Monday press conference. “I can’t say enough about our tight ends and wide receivers and how they fought for the ball, going across the middle and making a lot of contested catches.”
Junior offensive lineman Trey Smith earned SEC Offensive Lineman of the Week honors as well after helping lead UT to a season-high 526 yards of total offense. It marked the second time this season that Smith has earned the honor.
14 Players Set to be Recognized on Senior Day
Tennessee will honor 13 seniors on the current roster as well as VFL Darrin Kirkland Jr., prior to Saturday’s contest against Vanderbilt.
“We’ll be honoring 13 seniors on our football team and also Darrin Kirkland Jr., who didn’t get a chance to run through the T last year,” Pruitt said. “So, he’ll be back, and he’ll do that with the rest of the seniors.”
Pruitt has consistently praised this year’s senior class for leading the Vols out of some rough times and building a foundation for years to come.
“I am really proud of these guys and excited for them,” Pruitt said. “It has been great to get to know them. Just being around them the last two years to really get to know who they are and how much pride that they have for the University of Tennessee and see them fight and finish something that they started just says a lot about them. These guys are going to have tons of success beyond the university. It is really just what college football is all about, how these guys represent the university.”
Pruitt Thankful for Tennessee
With Thanksgiving coming up this Thursday, Pruitt talked about being thankful for his family and his football family here at Tennessee.
“Number one, I am thankful for my family. My wife, my kids, my mom, my dad, my brothers and sisters. I think we all are,” Pruitt said. “I am thankful for having an opportunity to work for the University of Tennessee. I am thankful for these players that we have a chance to be around every day and what a blessing they are to us. I am thankful for the men that I work with. There are lots of things to be thankful for. This is probably my favorite holiday just because of that.
“I think we get caught up sometimes in the wins and losses. I realize that is what we get paid to do, but the opportunity to work with the men in this profession, to be around the student-athletes and everybody that touches the student-athletes and watch them grow over a period of time, it is why I wanted to get into coaching football, so I could be a part of something like this. So, I am thankful to have an opportunity to do it at a wonderful university that football is so important to.”