Adams: Schedule reason for anxiety, not QB

Anytime a college football program breaks in a new quarterback, the anticipation and anxiety of its fan base rises accordingly. A brief review of UT history helps explain why.

You just don't know what you might get. For example, take the last 20 years.

There have been hits and misses. And one of the hits was a home run.

In 1998, the Vols went from quarterback Peyton Manning to an unproven Tee Martin. All Martin did in his first season as a starter was lead the Vols to an unbeaten season and a national championship.

Granted, the transition wasn't as smooth as the final record and ranking suggested. Martin was ineffective passing in his first few starts. Fortunately for UT, he had a powerful supporting cast to help carry him through those early games. But even before Martin's passing picked up, he established himself as a leader and a playmaker.

Ten years later, no one should expect new quarterback Jonathan Crompton to lead the Vols to another national title. Nor should anyone expect the turmoil that has followed other UT quarterback changes in the last 20 years. Three different times, the new quarterback lost the starting job he won in preseason.

That shouldn't happen with Crompton. Like Martin, he has too much going for him.

He has proven players at almost every position on offense. So he won't have to carry the offense.

Crompton has attributes of his own. His arm is strong enough and he has demonstrated accuracy in preseason scrimmages. Moreover, he's more mobile than his predecessor, Erik Ainge, or Casey Clausen, who preceded Ainge.

He also has more experience than any other new UT quarterback since Jerry Colquitt succeeded Heath Shuler in 1994. I realize that's not saying much. Martin rarely played behind Manning. Clausen, Ainge and Manning started as freshmen. But you can't dismiss the fact that when subbing for an injured Ainge in 2006, Crompton threw touchdown passes in a 28-24 loss to LSU, which had one of the best defenses in the country.

You couldn't have handled that situation as well as Crompton did without plenty of confidence. His confidence was evident before that, when he committed to UT even though freshmen Ainge and Brent Schaeffer were playing like future All-SEC quarterbacks.

Other quarterbacks in Crompton's position might have transferred. Instead, he sat on the bench behind Ainge for two years after redshirting and waited for his opportunity.

Now that his opportunity has finally come, I don't expect him to blow it. In fact, he could become the third-best quarterback in the league - behind Florida's Tim Tebow and Georgia's Matthew Stafford.

Much of Crompton's success will depend on his supporting cast. In a best-case scenario, senior tailback Arian Foster will stay healthy, hold on to the football and challenge for the rushing title; sophomore Gerald Jones will become a big-time playmaker as a wide receiver and at quarterback in the "G-Gun" package; and an experienced offensive line will live up to its preseason expectations.

The defense appears to be significantly improved over last season, but you have to wonder about the depth of the front seven, particularly at tackle. In UT's three toughest games - against Florida, Auburn and Georgia - that defense will be matched against formidable offenses, all of which will field experienced, talented offensive lines.

Of course, the schedule will be challenging. But you have to check the opposing schedules to fully appreciate UT's challenge.

Florida, Georgia, South Carolina and Kentucky all will have open dates before they play UT. The Vols' open dates are wasted before UAB and Vanderbilt.

In a conference as balanced as this one, advantages like that are magnified.

Prediction: A 9-3 regular season and a berth in the Capital One Bowl.

Sports editor John Adams may be reached at 865-342-6284 or adamsj@knoxnews.com.

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Comments » 47

sdye16#641965 writes:

Ok, before all the Adams-haters show up, you may want to change the score that is given. UT lost to LSU 28-24 in 2006. UT lost to Florida 21-20 that year. May want to fix that before the jerks start giving you a tough time. That being said, hopefully Crompton will lead the team the way he needs to. This season can be one for the ages. Go Vols!

VOLS85 writes:

way to play it safe john...that must be your mantra right? yeah right

armyant1969#258249 writes:

Adams- Very good article! Agreed that the schedule is as tough as it has been in many years due to the open dates of our opponents. This team showed us alot of character last year in my tough games and I think that will pay off in BIG WAY for us this season. Vols surprise, strike and kill this season!

budd#207344 writes:

fair article with good points. Did you really write this?

eefor10c writes:

Sdye, You have it all wrong. The jerk has already written and it takes some one like you to correct him.

armyant1969#258249 writes:

The new offense will and should be called: VOL OF STRIKE!

budd#207344 writes:

stj18,
The Atlanta Urinal and Constipation says they have a formidable offense. And will continue to do so til they lose

Hunter writes:

*****DISCLAIMER*****

From January through July, I was pessimistic about this season, particularly so when we had to hire half of a coaching staff. Recruiting wasn't the Fulmer-standard top 10 class, and Jerod went pro early, but........it's August and the Kool-Aid is flowing here in central Louisiana. So.......

I actually have us beating UCLA, Florida, Georgia, and Bama in our toughest tests. I think we lose at Auburn (who is my pick to win the SEC Championship) and lose at USC (as a child of the 90's I can't imagine beating Stevie Wonder three in a row).

10-2 with another berth in the SEC Championship game with our best shot at a BCS bowl since 2004.

I don't know the optimist sitting at the keyboard here, but like I said, it's August and it's 8 days 'til FOOTBALL TIME IN TENNESSEE!!!!

MidTennVol writes:

9-3? Sounds about right.

writer#358485 writes:

Breaks and defense win championships. We "can" beat anyone our schedule. If the ball bounces our way a few times and the defense is substantially improved we're 12-0. If it bounches the other way and we can't tackle early, then 9-3 is about right. This team has the potential to go all the way. And, we have the advantage of a new offensive scheme and play caller who just may surprise a lot of people. At this point, it is way too early to know for sure, but it looks like Fulmer has put the pieces together again for another good run, Adams and all the other PDF haters notwithstanding. Glad to see some ephiphanies among that group, at least apparently with Adams! Go Vols!

writer#358485 writes:

Oops, extra "h" in bounces, and I was an English major! Ah well, typos.

rootin4volz writes:

Budd...you mean they will continue to do so even AFTER they lose. Dawgs: all bark, no bite.

turner_c writes:

Might want to re-evaluate that UGA OL. They have 1 returning starter and he is playing a new position. The other 4 new starters are 1 frosh and 3 sophs. Only 1 upperclassman will start and they are what get consistency in the SEC. I just don't see a consistent run blocking line with that youth and inexperience. UGA's D should be very strong though.

flan55#206368 writes:

So do you think Crompton has as his goal to be the third-best QB in the conference? There is absolutely no reason that he can't be better than those guys.

waterskier3#226480 writes:

9-3 at best... i say 8-4 if foster fumbles at a critical time(which is likely). special teams doesn't show vast improvement against the top teams.. and on 3-15 against fla chavis goes zone rushes 3 DL and they get smoked for 30 yards because the sec can't cover P.H. for more than 5 seconds....

so lets book our capitol one bowl tickets now...lol

go vols

brokebackvol writes:

Exactly which team in the SEC has an EASY schedule? Seems to me if your team plays in the SEC, there is no such thing. Easier perhaps, but easy? Doubtful.

volunteer_cowboy writes:

is gerald williams going to play did he pass his test?

Ironcity writes:

Off the subject but down here in the Atl. The UGA flagship radio station continues to rebroadcast UGA games every weekend. I keep listening for when they broadcast the UGA UT game, but for some reason they never do.

Orangeblood13 writes:

Cromp will be shaky early, they all are. But this kid has swagger and confidence. Shuler has taken care of him and he will be fine. Heath came in and took over if i remember, so Cromp is ready. Don't butcher him to early, give him time, he'll be fine

Wow, lightning struck 2 times with Adams, can u beleive it?

CoverOrange writes:

Seems to me JA has been reading the writings of Hooker, Edwards, Strange, et al, and regurgitated this, getting paid double what they did. No interviews. No phone calls to experts. Barely any research of pertinent stats. Nothing really insightful.

SJT, would you apply to take over Pennington's role as guest columnist? I get more info from you and Savage in a week than from JA in a year.

johnlg00 writes:

jcvet, you seem to forget that most of UT's DB's last year were either freshmen, such as Berry (who did get beat a few times, especially early) or guys playing DB for the first time, such as Vinson. No one expected what Rogan wound up giving us last year. Many of them were playing because of injuries to the more-experienced guys. For all those reasons, we rarely had the same guys on the field two games in a row. Now we have about eight experienced DB's with some good young prospects fighting to get on the field. That makes competition in practice more meaningful. It is also hard to imagine that our D-line will be worse than last year's. One year of experience is HUGE because most players make their most improvement between their first and second years. Besides, almost anybody would have to think that Morley is a big improvement over Hefney at safety. I think we have potentially the best secondary in the country this year, but we will all know for sure, one way or the other, in about another month. GO VOLS!!! EIGHT MORE DAYS!!! I CAN HARDLY WAIT!!!

budd#207344 writes:

jcvet how do players get better if not from experience? Moon phases? transfusions? Vulcan mind meld?

johnlg00 writes:

Surely you would agree, jcvet, that UT's secondary was better later in the season than they were early on. True, our heavily front-loaded schedule exposed our young secondary while they were still learning and, except for LSU in the SECCG, the opposition was not as good in the second half. Even so, by the end of the season, it was clear that there was a lot of talent on that unit. If you want to dwell on the negative, that is your right, but I am fairly sure that my prediction, shared by many of the so-called "experts", will be closer to the final results than yours.
mtnsvol, CPF is almost surely NOT among the top-10 highest paid coaches in the country. IIRC, he is only about the 6th-highest paid in the SEC. It is also complete baloney to say that CPF is only the 33d-best coach in the country. Such a ranking says way more about the ignorance or bias of the reviewer than it does about CPF's stature in the game.

givehim6 writes:

I do not understand why most people outside the orange nation think UGA will beat UT, yes UGA won in there Sugar bowl vs UHA, UT won there bowl vs UW. And yes 3 years overUGA. Isn't that enough to people to say well UT might beat UGA. But it's ok let UGA stay over confident like last year.

RockyTop31174 writes:

Hey vols 0073, For those who missed my posts last night - If you don't like Adams don't read him, this whole "boycott" thing is idiotic. Be happy its football season. Again for the slow people in the room - He is not a UT fan, He is not a UT grad, He is not supposed to be a fan, He is a journalist, He is supposed to be a columnist, For those who don't know what a columnist does they give balanced reports, not sheep driven reports, they are also paid to give their opinion about the program, its players, and coaches, not just put out feel good Orange Kool-Aid stories, I bet you think we're winning the war in Iraq too don't you, Adams does what he is paid to do, He's not paid to be a fan, he's paid to do a job, the same way you're paid to offer me fries with my value meal.
Obama in 08 and NO BAMA IN THE SEC!!!

johnlg00 writes:

As LSU found out, UK was one of the best offensive teams in the country, but our guys made enough plays to win. Vandy had one of their greatest receivers ever have one of his best games ever. The main problem in that game was our offense's inability to keep the ball away from Vandy's offense, so our entire defense was tired. I stand by my prediction that our secondary will be among the nation's best this year and will make major contributions to our best season in several years. And, yes, thank you, I will have another cup of that delicious Big Orange kool-aid(;-D)! GO VOLS!!! EIGHT MORE DAYS!!! I CAN HARDLY WAIT!!!

philfan writes:

Hunter wrote: From January through July, I was pessimistic about this season, particularly so when we had to hire half of a coaching staff. Recruiting wasn't the Fulmer-standard top 10 class, and Jerod went pro early, but........it's August and the Kool-Aid is flowing here in central Louisiana.

All this talk about orange Kool-Aid has led me to the kitchen to experiment with a new drink called the Orange and Wiped (white). Here it is:

In a tall clear glass, mix the following:
2 jiggers Jack Daniels
1 and 1/2 jiggers of sweet orange Kool-Aid powder
1 jigger of lemon juice, more or less to taste
2 hefty slivers of orange
Unsweet iced tea
Mix thoroughly
Add ice and serve chilled

Have a good time, drink responsibly, and root for the Volunteers!

volunteer_cowboy writes:

LATEST ON G.WILLIAMS: On 104.5 radio in Nashville Doug Matthews has a show called Big Orange Sunday. He intervied Phil Fulmer this morning and asked him about this situation and after the break, Doug came back and said he wanted to explain the situation because Fulmer was very limited in what he could say. Williams has to graduate from the 2 year college in order to be accepted at UT. He took a correspondence course at UT and representatives came to be with him while he was tested offsite. The test results have to be sent back to the 2 year college to be scored. The results are put on the transcript and it is then sent to UT. As Doug explained it, 2 year colleges are not always fully staffed and move at their own pace depending on the instructor's and registrar's schedules. He said he graduated from a 2 year school and often recruited from 2 year colleges. He thinks it is the process not poor test results. Once Williams transcript is accepted by UT, he will be eligible to play.

volunteer_cowboy writes:

listen to matthews and CPF: http://podcasting.fia.net/5885/298822...

Hunter writes:

sjt, I do think Auburn will be beat up after LSU, but I was in attendance in 2003 when we got smoked 28-21 in a game MUCH more lopsided than the score indicates. There is an underrated home field advantage on the Plains. If Auburn gets their QB situation straightened out, they will win a lot of games this year. Then again, Dave Clawson may provide Tennessee the needed spark to get the job done in some games we aren't expected to win. Here's hoping....

volnsc51 writes:

jcvet- remember this name Morley.

He was not part of the secondary last year, look him up from the year before

Add him to the mix of a group that had to learn on the fly last year, that's why we are optimistic about this year.

Bigger_Al writes:

Darren Epps of the Chattanooga Times - Free Press wrote an eerily similar article about two months ago while Adams was busy slamming UT on Alabama Radio.

Tuscaloosa John is playing catching up.

alavol writes:

I am the most loyal fan down here in Alabama. However, Finebaum, who is a Tennessee graduate but has an Alabama call in show in Birmingham, said yesterday that Fulmer could not get a head coach job anywhere else. Furthermore, the Huntsville times had a preview of all the SEC and this is what it said:
Are the Vols slipping?
Fulmer will always be on the hot seat with 100,000 fans at every UT game and statewide devotion, but it helps relieve some of the heat now that he's the No. 3 coach in terms of profile in Knoxville, behind Pat Summit and Bruce Pearl.
Good season if- the Vols can split with Florida and Georgia to at least create some perception of parity in the SEC East, it'd be a great accomplishment. A return to Atlanta would'nt just signal a good season but a miraculous one!
Disappointing season if-Tennessee looses to anyone in its division outside of Georgia and Florida, both of which are national championship contenders. Figure there is another loss or two looming somewhere outside the division or SEC (UCLA, Alabama, Auburn?) But if the Vols wind up going anywhere in bowl season that's not in warm weather, the ex-Vols may need to pony up for a new ad in support of Fulmer"

Pretty sobering stuff! Go Vols and run the table! Jonathan will take us to the promised land just like Tee Martin did. Jonathan,if your receivers are covered, run for day light, just like Tee did. Do what you did to Georgia last year. Beat FL, AL, Auburn! Go Vols, Make me proud!

DennisVols writes:

I might can agree with UF and Auburns offensive line but GA that is a weak point and they lost their most talented offensive lineman already.
The key to this defense improving is the offense improving. Time of possession was key in the 2 big losses last year to UF and Bama. During the 2nd half of both of those games the offense was non-factor. In the Bama game it seemed at times that the offense was leaving the field before the defense got completly off.
No effective changes in the game plan from the 1st half to the 2nd half or from game to game made UT's offense predictable and the defense spending 20 of the 30 minutes in the 2nd half on the field following toooooo many 3 plays-punt.
Ball control, converting 3 downs, limiting long 3 down opportunties, creating lots of turnovers on defense, limiting them on offense. All of this was key in our last National Champions and it will be the same this year.
Fundimentals, Fundimentals, Fundimentals. 8 days from now we will all be either at the game or sitting in front of our sets awaiting the 1st test of this years version of our UT Vols!

TheVolMan writes:

eefor10c, you have it all wrong. You're a member of the Weenie brigade who supposedly were going to boycott the KNS.

Great article John. Ignore these Weenies.

LOL...

invisiblekid writes:

Turbofan, nice observation on Adams at 1:19, my vote goes to Drew as the new Editor in Chief for KNS. Now let's get back to watching folks complain about a column Adams wrote 6 months ago.

Ralph_Crampton writes:

Rocky TOP your article was the best one you have ever written.

eefor10c writes:

Rocky Top Your 3:38 post says it all. As you say Adams is SUPPOSED to be a columnist. "They give balanced reports". That in no way described that loser who has a vendetta against Fulmer.

orangesox writes:

alavol- How much stock can you put in anything Finebaum says? Couldn't get a job anywhere else? Please. Doesn't he think there are 75 schools out there that would love to wallow in the "mediocrity" Fulmer has coached UT to over the past 16 years? Finebaum's a lot like Adams in that respect. Just trying to rouse up a little controversy.

TommyJack writes:

SCAGGS: Good points.

gobigorange writes:

I think some of u guys are giving Slade too much heat. I think the blame for the poor defense this decade is Big Chief himself. John Chavis.Our defense has been below mediocre since the 98 team. GO VOLS!

pdhuff#552644 writes:

If you keep doing the same things, you keep getting the same results.

The time for guessing is almost over. Let's don't make a hero out of Neuheisel.

In 7 days.

SavDawg writes:

UGA, UF, USC, UK all have open dates before UT??? That's brutal.

pdhuff#552644 writes:

Itn't it about time for JA to launch another broadside article to roil the faithful?

Or is he just waiting for the first umfall?

Curious.....

HotlantaVol writes:

This was a very reasonable column for John Adams. 9-3 is also very realistic. I wonder if JA is okay.

Kaplan - Please confirm that the real John Adams wrote this column. I am worried that Vols0073 may have hacked into the KNS network and submitted this under JA's byline. I also wouldn't rule out kidnap at this point.

BNR10 writes:

I can see a 9-3 season, but for some reason I think that the Vols are going to have a pretty good year!! GO VOLS

Colliervol writes:

alavol, my only comment is that Finebaum is worthless and I wouldn't pay a bit of attention to anything an Alabama newspaper says about UT. That would interest me about as much as the political conventions do. (Any good movies on this week?)

Having said that 9 and 3 sounds about right. And, if we split Florida and Georgia, maybe 10 and 2.

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