Pruitt responds to fans who might boo Guarantano

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT.) -- Tennessee head coach Jeremy Pruitt talked Wednesday about his team's quarterback situation and how he'd like his fans to receive Jarrett Guarantano.

Pruitt announced early Wednesday that starting quarterback Brian Maurer is doubful for Saturday's game against South Carolina.

Pruitt says with Maurer likely out, the decision on who will start hasn't been made yet but redshirt freshman J.T. Shrout will get an opportunity.

"J.T. is a really hard worker and he continues to develop and learn exactly how to play the position," Pruitt said. "Chris Weinke and Jim Chaney have done a nice job developing the young man, he continues to grow as a quarterback. We don't see it because hasn't had many opportunities to play in many games but he'll get an opportunity Saturday and we'll see where he is at."

As for the love-hate relationship he's had with Vol fans of late, Pruitt says he expects support for all of his players, including Guarantano.

"I think when South Carolina comes on the field, they'll probably be booing. I think when South Carolina has the ball they'll be loud like they have every game. You're not going to find a more passionate fan base than the fans at the University of Tennessee. They'll support our players and continue to do that."

Pruitt was asked during his weekly Vol Calls show about grabbing Guarantano's facemask late in the fourth quarter of Saturday's loss to No. 1 Alabama.

"I wish you wouldn't ask me about it because I've moved on and I needed to move on and so does out program. I wasn't very happy about some of the things. We had opportunities in that game and we gotta coach better, we gotta play better," said Pruitt.

The second-year coach told the crowd at Calhoun's on the River that the win over Mississippi State and improved play against Alabama have no bearing on this Saturday's outcome.

Kickoff against South Carolina is set for 4 p.m.

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