Erase the X’s and O’s. Toss aside weeks of scheming. Don’t bother building a dominant defense. None of it seems to matter anymore.
There’s one very simple answer on how to be a good football team nowadays – have a good quarterback. If you do, then you’re going to be celebrating more often than not. If you don’t, it’s going to be a long season.
I’ve noticed it more and more over the years, but this year – with the Pioneers, Volunteers and Titans serving as local examples – has really hammered home the point. There’s just no way to scheme around a bad quarterback, and there’s no bigger weapon than a dynamic signal caller.
It shouldn’t be a shock the Pioneers are finding more ways to win this year. Coach Matt Turner made a very simple decision when he took over that paid immediate dividends.
He gave his best player, CJ Taylor, the ball on every down.
Sure, Taylor isn’t shredding defenses with is passing, though the lefty has underrated arm strength and a penchant for putting the ball in the right spot in key moments. What he can do though, with regularity, is make plays.
When Taylor is moving around and using his athleticism, the Pioneers move the ball. He already has four 100-yard rushing games this season, including the rare 100-yard passing, 100-yard rushing performance against Siegel, where he finished with 281 total yards.
Taylor is a game breaker who makes the game easier for offensive coordinators and keeps opposing defensive coaches up at night.
Jarrett Guarantano and Marcus Mariota are not those guys.
It’s fitting Guarantano, the former Vol starting QB who was benched in favor of true freshman Brian Maurer two weeks ago, was compared to Mariota coming out of high school. They both seem to be able to drive their fan bases crazy.
Both Guarantano and Mariota look the part. They can spin it, have good-to-great mobility and have been lauded since their high school days for their talents. From every report available, they seem to be lights out in practice. When the lights come on though, both seem to shrink instead of shine.
The Vols and Titans entered this year with hope, a lot based on the fact they had experienced returning QBs. After 2-4 starts for their respective teams, Guarantano and Mariota have each been benched.
Taylor has shown he has the “it” factor both Guarantano and Mariota lack. A team without “it,” without a game-changing QB, is just waiting on another loss to come its way.
Just ask Vol and Titan fans.