Stephens is not taking shortsighted view

Nick Stephens was prepared to hear that fellow quarterback Jonathan Crompton will start the season opener for Tennessee against Western Kentucky on Sept. 5.

Stephens said he was disappointed, but Tennessee coach Lane Kiffin reminded him to not lose his focus when he informed the junior of the decision Monday.

"He said be ready," Stephens said. "You never know what's going to happen.

"His big thing was he's been wrong before. You never know when something's going to happen so you have to prepare like you're the starter and never let anything else get in your way."

Stephens said UT's staff never got in the way of his attempt to win the starting job during fall camp.

Stephens said he appreciated a fair opportunity to win the position.

"I respect them so much for that," he said. "I couldn't ask for anything more from Coach Kiffin and these coaches."

Kiffin said Tuesday he's been pleased with the reaction from Stephens since Crompton was named UT's starter, even though Kiffin is sure the decision was disappointing.

"He was very professional," Kiffin said of Stephens. "I don't think it's affected him. He's done a really good job of handling himself."

Stephens said he plans to handle each practice as if he's the starter.

"I'm not walking out of here feeling sorry for myself needing a pat on the back," he said. "It's part of the game. You just fight through it."

Receivers Rally: Kiffin said he was pleased with the practice from his wide receivers Tuesday after a disappointing practice Monday.

UT is dealing with a thin receiving corps because of injuries to veterans Austin Rogers, Denarius Moore and Gerald Jones, who suffered a high ankle sprain during Saturday's scrimmage.

Their injuries have forced UT's three freshman, Nu'Keese Richardson, Marsalis Teague and Zach Rogers, into first-team roles.

Kiffin said he and the offensive staff spent extra time Monday night finding ways to get the freshmen more involved.

"Too often coaches sit there and say, 'We only have freshmen and they're supposed to line up wrong. Oh well they drop it and that's what freshmen do,' " Kiffin said.

"Well, we can't say that. That's not going to help us on Saturday. Nobody's going to be happy when they leave the stands because they're freshmen if they're not playing well."

Kiffin singled out Richardson's practice Tuesday.

"Nu'Keese had by far his best day since he's been here," Kiffin said. "He made a number of huge plays, probably had 250 yards receiving.

"That was great to see because he'd gone through his ups and downs and the transition had been tough on him. It was great to see him make some big plays."

Some of Richardson's big plays included a diving catch in the back of the end zone and a catch on a deep pass down the sideline for a touchdown.

Versatile Willie: Redshirt freshman Willie Bohannon continues to see extensive work on the defensive line.

Bohannon saw snaps with the first team defense Tuesday while starting defensive end Chris Walker sat out practice.

Bohannon has also received work at defensive tackle on passing downs.

"Willie's improving and has really helped himself by being able to play multiple positions," Kiffin said.

Bohannon said his focus has been on working his way up the depth chart this fall. He said he's becoming more comfortable with playing end or tackle.

"If I get on the field and I do what I need to do it doesn't really matter (what position I play)," Bohannon said.

Colorful Kiffin: UT's head coach joked with a reporter when asked about freshman tailback David Oku throwing a touchdown pass to Crompton on a trick play.

"Thanks for just giving away our trick play that we had for the opener," Kiffin said. "But yeah David threw it back to Jonathan and now we can't run it."

Kiffin, with his customary dry wit, later chided the same reporter when he asked about Oku working at slot receiver during Tuesday's practice.

"You told them that he threw the ball and now you've told them that he lined up at receiver, too," Kiffin joked.

Blogging Berry: Safety Eric Berry will be among 18 players writing weekly diaries for Sporting News Today.

Berry's diaries, which can be found online at www.sportingnewstoday.com, began running Tuesday.

Practice Schedule: UT will practice today before taking the day off Thursday. Kiffin said UT will hold a physical practice Friday before holding a mostly non-contact practice Saturday.

Josh Ward is a freelance contributor.

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Comments » 37

go_vols_go writes:

Almost time ladies and gentlemen!!!!

PlaidinOrangeandWhite writes:

Any word on how Rod Wilks did in practice today?

CRFVols writes:

So I hear this Miami QB Cannon Smith is from Tennessee and will be looking for somewhere close to home to play. Anyone know anything about him??

the10sevol writes:

nuke gets 250 yards? i could live with that on any given saturday.
GBO

OldSmokey writes:

Good read.

BigOrangeBrain writes:

Cannon Smith is son of Fred Smith, founder of FEDEX, played at Olive Branch, Ms as a senior after transferring from one of private schools in Memphis. He originally committed to U of Memphis, then Ole Miss, before getting into some off field trouble.

V0LUNT33R writes:

I like the sound of Oku in the slot. On a different note, is anyone else worried that we're going to be looking at 8-9 men in the box all year? Poor pass blocking, mediocre quarterback play, and a lack of receivers could really hurt our run game.

CRFVols writes:

Ahh. I figured there was something to the fact that we didn't recruit him.

GreerVol22 writes:

Keep your chin up Nick, you'll get your shot. Ain't it fun hearing a coach with a sense of humor and pretty much directly answering questions? I know everyone misses the, "Nick is a gosh darn good kid and continues to work like heck to get better."

Couchdummy writes:

in response to GreerVol22:

Keep your chin up Nick, you'll get your shot. Ain't it fun hearing a coach with a sense of humor and pretty much directly answering questions? I know everyone misses the, "Nick is a gosh darn good kid and continues to work like heck to get better."

Amen! Of all the things I don't miss about Coach Fulmer, the canned, blow-off answers I miss the least.

gnm53108 writes:

in response to FreeTDTN:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

With ya general.

I still think he will be our startin qb this season...eventually.

PennVol writes:

I love Kiffin's comment: "Well, we can't say that. That's not going to help us on Saturday. Nobody's going to be happy when they leave the stands because they're freshmen if they're not playing well."

Saw Fulmer last night on the CBS show - he picked Florida and Bama in the SEC championship game, Florida to win the national championship and said Colt McCoy was a special player. That's crazy talk, huh?

Coach_Joe writes:

in response to PennVol:

I love Kiffin's comment: "Well, we can't say that. That's not going to help us on Saturday. Nobody's going to be happy when they leave the stands because they're freshmen if they're not playing well."

Saw Fulmer last night on the CBS show - he picked Florida and Bama in the SEC championship game, Florida to win the national championship and said Colt McCoy was a special player. That's crazy talk, huh?

Did Fulmer happen to bring up where he thought Tennessee would fair this season? I would think that someone on that panel would ask him.

Cldvols1 writes:

I like the fact that Stephens is keeping his head up after not being named the starter. I hope and pray Crompton has adjusted to CLK's west-coast offense bc if not we may see Nick rather sooner than expected. But I'm not gonna jugg on JC bc this is a new season with new expectations. One in which I expect the Vols to be vastly improved! Go Vols!!!

dvols writes:

dont worry nick you will get a shot...crompton will be taking plenty! somebody please tell me how our o-line is gonna block???? i want some good news.. i just dont see it. they dont match up well >??

Cldvols1 writes:

in response to go_vols_go:

Almost time ladies and gentlemen!!!!

10 days to be exact! You may say 10 days to what, and I say 10 days until IT'S FOOTBALL TIME IN TENNESSEE!!!

finn writes:

Imagine what the upcoming season would look like if Fulmer was still the coach with these key injuries. We might only field 8 or 9 guys on offense because 'the freshmen don't know the blocking schemes.' These injuries are tough but won't hurt nearly as much for a staff that's not afraid to play talent even if they're only 18.

BigOrangeJeff writes:

Wait a second... you mean someone was not named starter and he DIDN'T pout and quit the team???

davethevol writes:

in response to BigOrangeJeff:

Wait a second... you mean someone was not named starter and he DIDN'T pout and quit the team???

I'm glad that quitter BJ Coleman left the team. Seems like he had a "me-first" attitude and that's the kind of distraction they don't need.

PennVol writes:

in response to Coach_Joe:

Did Fulmer happen to bring up where he thought Tennessee would fair this season? I would think that someone on that panel would ask him.

He joked about the coaching staff being brash and "better be able to back it up" and that UT had a lot of good players returning (3rd ranked defense in'08), but didn't make any predictions where we would finish.

doubledown writes:

I'm for swapping UT Martin in next year's opener for Wyoming. Wouldn't you really like to whip Wyoming's butt like yesterday?

VolunteerLifer writes:

Way to be there for us, Nick.

CHS52VOL writes:

May I have another glass of orange KoolAid, please sir? Regardless of how our season goes, I have become a genuine fan of Coach Kiffen and his staff. Not comortable yet with Coach Reaves as QB Coach, but no one is perfect. I have followed UT football for more than 70 years and can't recall looking forward to the start of the season with more anticipation tha this year.

Any game we lose, the opposing team will know they have been in a hard-fought game and beat a team who "gave their all for Tennessee" that day. Wow! I am excited. Hope God sees fit to leave me around to see the results of this staff's efforts in 2010 and 2011. GBO!

PennVol writes:

in response to CHS52VOL:

May I have another glass of orange KoolAid, please sir? Regardless of how our season goes, I have become a genuine fan of Coach Kiffen and his staff. Not comortable yet with Coach Reaves as QB Coach, but no one is perfect. I have followed UT football for more than 70 years and can't recall looking forward to the start of the season with more anticipation tha this year.

Any game we lose, the opposing team will know they have been in a hard-fought game and beat a team who "gave their all for Tennessee" that day. Wow! I am excited. Hope God sees fit to leave me around to see the results of this staff's efforts in 2010 and 2011. GBO!

Have a big glass, Sir! You are not alone in your expectations. The pain of being a Vol fan (at least for me) is historically having more talent that the team across the field and not winning big games due to poor preparation or lack of execution. I believe we will see big changes in preparation and execution this year, even though we may not be quite as talented as some other SEC teams. I can live with losing this way in the short term.

volfan1kingsport writes:

in response to gnm53108:

With ya general.

I still think he will be our startin qb this season...eventually.

I like stephens better than crompton, but I hope he doesnt start later in the season because you know that will mean losses. Have fait in crompton after all this is the type ofoffense he got recruited out of.

GO BIG ORANGE!!!

TunnelHillVol writes:

in response to CHS52VOL:

May I have another glass of orange KoolAid, please sir? Regardless of how our season goes, I have become a genuine fan of Coach Kiffen and his staff. Not comortable yet with Coach Reaves as QB Coach, but no one is perfect. I have followed UT football for more than 70 years and can't recall looking forward to the start of the season with more anticipation tha this year.

Any game we lose, the opposing team will know they have been in a hard-fought game and beat a team who "gave their all for Tennessee" that day. Wow! I am excited. Hope God sees fit to leave me around to see the results of this staff's efforts in 2010 and 2011. GBO!

Make that a double.I hope God sees fit to leave you here also so you can see what happens in the future with this staff and our beloved "Big Orange".Coach Kiffin has made it clear that there will ALWAYS be competition,something sorely lacking under the previous regime.If you thought we had a good recruiting class this year just wait until all the top prospects in the country see the freshmen at UT actually getting a chance to compete for playing time(something else sorely lacking under PF)My only gripe with Coach Kiffin was hiring then firing the S&C coach from South Carolina and yes I share your concerns on Reaves but one look at his sister puts everything in perspective..
Can you say its SMASH MOUTH time in Tennessee?
Go Vols !

gnm53108 writes:

in response to volfan1kingsport:

I like stephens better than crompton, but I hope he doesnt start later in the season because you know that will mean losses. Have fait in crompton after all this is the type ofoffense he got recruited out of.

GO BIG ORANGE!!!

Oh,I hope Crompton works out as well.

But my gut tells me that we would be better off with Nick and eventually this year he will be the man....my gut has been wrong before...well atleast with non-fermented subjects.

TunnelHillVol writes:

in response to PennVol:

Have a big glass, Sir! You are not alone in your expectations. The pain of being a Vol fan (at least for me) is historically having more talent that the team across the field and not winning big games due to poor preparation or lack of execution. I believe we will see big changes in preparation and execution this year, even though we may not be quite as talented as some other SEC teams. I can live with losing this way in the short term.

I agree, didn't you just hate getting beat my a lesser talented team or trying to sit on a 3 point lead instead of going for the jugular.If we can endure this season which I think will not be that bad except for having to listen to those obnoxious gator fans,the future looks very bright ! As in Big Orange

STEELMAN4VOLS writes:

I think Nick shows class and will do the job when
the opportunity arises. I hope Crompton will have confidence in his abilities and the system so he won't get too rattled when the heat is on against good teams. Hopefully, either QB will do the job. ******Go Vols!!!!!!!!

jjdubya writes:

in response to CHS52VOL:

May I have another glass of orange KoolAid, please sir? Regardless of how our season goes, I have become a genuine fan of Coach Kiffen and his staff. Not comortable yet with Coach Reaves as QB Coach, but no one is perfect. I have followed UT football for more than 70 years and can't recall looking forward to the start of the season with more anticipation tha this year.

Any game we lose, the opposing team will know they have been in a hard-fought game and beat a team who "gave their all for Tennessee" that day. Wow! I am excited. Hope God sees fit to leave me around to see the results of this staff's efforts in 2010 and 2011. GBO!

in that case, could you at least learn how to spell his name?

tway14 writes:

Are we gonna play to win or just play to not get beat like years past?

OhioVol3 writes:

in response to V0LUNT33R:

I like the sound of Oku in the slot. On a different note, is anyone else worried that we're going to be looking at 8-9 men in the box all year? Poor pass blocking, mediocre quarterback play, and a lack of receivers could really hurt our run game.

Bingo. If I were an opposing team, I'd line up 9 in the box all game (even if Crompton burns us deep for a couple). I wouldn't give Crompton any credit until he performed well consistently. He seems to lose it under pressure.

TunnelHillVol writes:

in response to jjdubya:

in that case, could you at least learn how to spell his name?

Don't you have anything better to do than belittle someone 70+ years old over a spelling mistake.If you are trying to be grammatically correct then maybe you should begin your sentences with a capital letter.Show a little respect !

PennVol writes:

Can you guys imagine what this coaching staff and these freshmen will be thinking when they run through the T in a full Neyland Stadium the first time??? Only then will they truly understand they're in football heaven!!

CHS52VOL writes:

in response to TunnelHillVol:

Don't you have anything better to do than belittle someone 70+ years old over a spelling mistake.If you are trying to be grammatically correct then maybe you should begin your sentences with a capital letter.Show a little respect !

Thanks much, THVol. I knew better - forgive the typo, and thanks for covering my back. (Age 76)

TunnelHillVol writes:

in response to CHS52VOL:

Thanks much, THVol. I knew better - forgive the typo, and thanks for covering my back. (Age 76)

More than happy to do so in true Volunteer fashion.Everyone on here makes a typo from time to time,rather than spend time criticizing them I would rather talk about the Vols.

utfan2121 writes:

in response to gnm53108:

With ya general.

I still think he will be our startin qb this season...eventually.

Well in a perfect world Crompton would be the starter all season.. which means he'd be playing really well.. but of course Stephens will see the field this season I'm sure.. oh btw.. wtg Richardson.. that kid is a playmaker.. glad we have one now

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