Adams: QBs don't pale by all comparisons

John Adams

When Tennessee first-year coach Lane Kiffin announced his starting quarterback last week, he commended both the winner and the runner-up.

"We've got two good quarterbacks," he said.

That didn't necessarily elicit an "amen" from the Big Orange faithful, whose quarterback skepticism is at an all-time high following last season.

But Kiffin can't afford to be skeptical. He has to do everything he can to help Jonathan Crompton and Nick Stephens succeed. That includes building and maintaining their confidence.

So don't bother asking whether Crompton and Stephens are good quarterbacks. A more appropriate question: Are they better quarterbacks?

They certainly seem better than last year, but only games can provide confirmation.

While acknowledging their improvement, I'm probably guilty of focusing more on their minuses than pluses. That's a carryover from last season.

Kiffin has no history with Crompton or Stephens. He has judged them based on what they have done in his offensive system under his coaching staff.

There's another way to evaluate UT's quarterbacks. Check out the competition.

No one expects Crompton to make All-SEC. But no one is promoting the majority of quarterbacks on UT's schedule for post-season honors, either.

In the SEC, Florida's Tim Tebow or Ole Miss' Jevan Snead are in a class by themselves. Arkansas' Ryan Mallett is probably next in line, but there are questions about every other quarterback in the SEC. And UT's non-conference opponents aren't exactly launching Heisman campaigns for their quarterbacks.

So for comparison's sake, set aside the Florida and Ole Miss games, where there's no quarterback debate. Also, throw out the Western Kentucky and Ohio University games, where the disparity in talent should make quarterback evaluations irrelevant.

Here's a quarterback comparison for the other eight games:

n UCLA: Kevin Prince has shown promise unseating Kevin Craft, who was good enough to beat the Vols last year. But Prince is a redshirt freshman starting his first road game - in Neyland Stadium. Remember Cal's Nate Longshore?

Edge to UT.

n Auburn: Quarterback Chris Todd contributed to Auburn's ugly victory over UT last season despite playing with a bum shoulder. But Crompton has a better supporting cast and the home-field advantage.

Edge to UT.

n Georgia: Joe Cox has spent the majority of his college career sitting on the bench behind Matthew Stafford, but his teammates and coaches swear by him. He has one of the conference's best offensive lines and All-SEC wide receiver A.J. Green.

Edge to Georgia.

n Alabama: Greg McElroy is another career backup, but everyone raves about his accuracy and knowledge of the offense. Plus, he's surrounded by talent.

Edge to Alabama.

n South Carolina: Stephen Garcia qualifies as the most unpredictable quarterback in the league. He flashed talent as both a runner and passer last season against UT but was awful in the Holiday Bowl against Iowa and has been maddeningly inconsistent.

Even.

n Memphis: Strong-armed Arkelon Hall had several big games last season but is hard to evaluate because Conference USA defenses bear little resemblance to the SEC's. Carlos Singleton and Duke Calhoun should finish their careers as the school's all-time leading receivers, but the offensive line is questionable.

Even.

n Vanderbilt: Mackenzi Adams has been inconsistent throughout his career. Larry Smith was good enough to start in the bowl victory against Boston College.

SEC defenses aren't shaking at the thought of facing either one of them.

Edge to UT.

n Kentucky: Mike Hartline looked awful at the outset of his first season as a starter but played well in the Wildcats' bowl victory. He's tall and somewhat athletic but often plays as though he's afraid to make a mistake.

Edge to UT.

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

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Comments » 56

smokey_vols writes:

first? Adams...

erwinvol writes:

well i think that all of the faithful vols should and will stick behind clk's decision! if there needs to be a change i think that he will make it happen quick. other than that congrats crompton and GO VOLS!! IT'S LESS THAN A WEEK TILL IT'S FOOTBALL TIME IN TENNESSEE!!!!!!!!!

RPBVolunteer writes:

I saw interesting talk on USC boards that some think Aaron Corp might transfer, and the two names mentioned were Washington and UT. Just thought I would throw that out there.

RPBVolunteer writes:

Smokey, the message board is to make a comment, not glorify your ability to continually update the website to find a new story to be the first retard to post, "First"

Vol_FAN_atic writes:

in response to RPBVolunteer:

I saw interesting talk on USC boards that some think Aaron Corp might transfer, and the two names mentioned were Washington and UT. Just thought I would throw that out there.

I had that thought run through my mind earlier today. Great minds think alike! Lol

We will have a great QB signing on next years class. Too many opportunities abound for there not.

Whats up cuz Chris, from MD

bluetick writes:

For all of the complaints from many about Clausen and Ainge, I bet right now you wish they were still on the roster. :)

AceVentura writes:

Gotta love recycled articles. I don't think this is what people had in mind when they said to recycle news papers. Adams is Einhorn, Einhorn is Adams.

bUTchVFL writes:

South Carolina played Iowa in the Outback Bowl last year, not the Holiday Bowl. FYI John.

FWBVol writes:

in response to RPBVolunteer:

I saw interesting talk on USC boards that some think Aaron Corp might transfer, and the two names mentioned were Washington and UT. Just thought I would throw that out there.

While the thought of Corp transferring makes nice internet gossip. The fact is he's a redshirt sophomore and it's doubtful he'll transfer this season. If he were to transfer after this year he'd have to sit out a year per NCAA rules. Since he has burned his redshirt year that means he'd only have his senior season to play at UT or some other school.

Based on all of that, I'd say his best bet is to stay at USC and fight for his job, or, if he decides to transfer, move down to a lower division such as I-AA or II.

RockinTop writes:

in response to Witch_Doctor:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Frankly I am tired of excuses...."been through alot"? What player hasnt?

Excuses don't count, either you do the job or you do not.

longertimevolfan writes:

I still think 8-4 and a bowl win.

With good QB play 9-3 and a bowl win.

I will be happy with the prediction of 7-5 and a bowl win.

This is my re-hash of the predictions everyone is making about the Vols in 09.

Off subject. I have Dish Network and need to know if the TN - WKU game will be available for me to record and watch later? At this point I can't find any station that Dish will be carring the game.

Will some one reply if they know? I have a high speed DSL line but can't find if it will be broadcast by someone or not. I live in Farragut.

I do not find WVLT/CBS carring the game locally. They have scheduled tennis for all day.

I don't get MYVLT2 on channel 30 or any other channel.

If anyone knows please post reply. Thanks

GBO

Cldvols1 writes:

in response to Witch_Doctor:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

I'm with ya WD, I think JC will be a lot better than last year under CLK's new offense. Afterall it is pretty QB friendly. Stephens will be better as well and I see both being contributors this season. Mark it down, UT will sign a big name QB next year. The possibilities are too enticing. Go Big Orange!!!

PepperGrinder (Inactive) writes:

First....

OrangeMagic writes:

in response to RockinTop:

Frankly I am tired of excuses...."been through alot"? What player hasnt?

Excuses don't count, either you do the job or you do not.

Excuses, eh? I'd like to hear you calling in sick on a Monday morning :) Doesn't it make sense that a quarterback, especially one at a high profile university like UT receives way more focus than other players? They get more of the credit and more of the blame. He had a bad year last year and had death threats. No player should have to go through that and there were plenty other players having bad years. Here's to everybody at UT having a better year this year.

rich182x writes:

in response to PepperGrinder:

First....

LOL!...

FWBVol writes:

in response to DeltaCharlie:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

I agree Mustain has made a lot of questionable decisions in his choices of schools. Ironically, the system that Petrino uses might have been a good fit for him had he stayed at Arkansas. That said, Mustain is in a bigger world of hurt than Corp. He is red shirt junior and he can't go anywhere this year. If he transfers next year it will have to be down to a lower NCAA division so he can play as a senior.

xvolx writes:

who in their right mind would evaluate Crompton on last years team. An off. line that didn't know who to block, receivers that didn't understand the off. or pass routes, a running back that couldn't hold on to the ball, but was blazing fast east to west and finally the most confusing man in the world. Clawson and the one that hired him Fulmer. Crompton will finally get a chance to show his talents. Here is one vol fan that is his corner.

RockyToptoNeyland writes:

in response to bluetick:

For all of the complaints from many about Clausen and Ainge, I bet right now you wish they were still on the roster. :)

maybe ainge, but not clausen. I think tennessee needs to try to forget all the clausen/clawsons in their past.

bdennis278 writes:

in response to AceVentura:

Gotta love recycled articles. I don't think this is what people had in mind when they said to recycle news papers. Adams is Einhorn, Einhorn is Adams.

Hey, Ace... You got any more of that gum?

VolChick2009 writes:

I for one am looking forward to watching Bowling Greens first game this year. I think that may tell alot about what caused the poor QB play for my Vols last year. JC was the #2 QB coming out of HS in the country when he picked UT...no way..NO WAY..is he as bad as the Clawfense made him out to be. All he has to do is not turn the ball over and manage the clock.....everything else should take care of itself IMO.

Go Vols!!!!!!

pdhuff#552644 writes:

We shall know soon.

It is high time the Vols started back on the road to being a respected program again.

Many do not realize how long that road is.

Or how far we have to go. But finally we are doing something about it.

Crank it up, Orange!

QB_10 (Inactive) writes:

Stephens will benefit the most this fall, next spring and then he gets to be the leader on the field and helping the new kid...oh yes he will see the field this year and not for mop up duty

leedsvol2007 writes:

in response to xvolx:

who in their right mind would evaluate Crompton on last years team. An off. line that didn't know who to block, receivers that didn't understand the off. or pass routes, a running back that couldn't hold on to the ball, but was blazing fast east to west and finally the most confusing man in the world. Clawson and the one that hired him Fulmer. Crompton will finally get a chance to show his talents. Here is one vol fan that is his corner.

I agree, I think we should wipe Crompton's slate clean and see how he starts and if he improves week to week.

The more you learn about Clawson the more you realize he brought in a very complicated offense with no way of building it one layer at a time.

He had quarterbacks, receivers, backs and the offensive linemen confused. He took a potentially good offense and made it into one of the worst in UT history.

Crompton late in the season when Fulmer appeared to take over the offense looked much better. He was quicker more decisive and showed running ability that he had not shown last year(although that was probably due to playing with an ankle sprain).

My question about Crompton is has he learned to avoid the big mistake. Throughout his career he has shown the penchant to try and force throws and get picked.

With Stephens its has he learned to throw the check downs and is his throwing motion improved?

I think the new system will help all phases of our offense.

We will start getting answers this weekend.

GoVols!

Huttdawg100 writes:

in response to DeltaCharlie:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

The only USC cast-off I want to see as a Vol is Jesse Scroggins.

ThurmondEppy writes:

in response to DeltaCharlie:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

How about Dave Mustaine?

jsm67vol writes:

in response to RockyToptoNeyland:

maybe ainge, but not clausen. I think tennessee needs to try to forget all the clausen/clawsons in their past.

TN doesn't need to forget the Clausen's/Clawson of our past. When I think of Casey, I think of a big blue beat down in the citrus bowl was it. When I think of Rick, i think of one of the greatest comebacks in UT football vs LSU after Katrina and an aggie beatdown in the bowl that year. When I think of Dave Clawson I think of the coach who brought us our current staff because if he had not caused such astronomical confusion with his offense, I would not be nearly as excited about UT football as I am right now. Go Vols!!!

jsm67vol writes:

in response to VolChick2009:

I for one am looking forward to watching Bowling Greens first game this year. I think that may tell alot about what caused the poor QB play for my Vols last year. JC was the #2 QB coming out of HS in the country when he picked UT...no way..NO WAY..is he as bad as the Clawfense made him out to be. All he has to do is not turn the ball over and manage the clock.....everything else should take care of itself IMO.

Go Vols!!!!!!

If you know anything of Clawson's history, you should know that his history shows that every team he has coached has done very poorly the first year or two after he implements his offensive system. I agree that Crompton is a better QB than Clawson's off made him look and UT is a better team than Clawson's off made them look. UT fans don't want to hear that Clawson is a good coach, but I believe he is a good coach. I hate the way my beloved Vols looked last season and I do blame his scheme for the poor performance. But Clawson's resume shows that it takes typically 2 years for that system to become effective. UT couldn't wait that long to be successful again. I have no hate for Clawson. He was the catalyst in getting Fulmer out and this new staff in. Fulmer is a UT legend to me but his time was up. Go Vols! Go Bowling Green too though they are likely 2 yrs from success with Clawson. If BG gives him time they will be a successful program again, IMO.

Chartervol writes:

Coaching matters. I'd be surprised if we aren't asking ourselves, "Who are these guys and what did they do with our Vols?" in a few weeks. The younguns weren't nearly as bad as they showed last year.

BTW, I caught the South Carolina preseason show yesterday and was struck by how half-fast their coaches look at practice next to Tennessee's new staff.

We'll see.

davethevol writes:

in response to ThurmondEppy:

How about Dave Mustaine?

If he's got enough time to tour behind a new album and to be a starting QB then I'd be all for it.

sizeDD writes:

in response to ThurmondEppy:

How about Dave Mustaine?

funny

bkgunter writes:

Finally a topic on which Adams can be declared to have a real expertise----paling in comparison to other talent. Of course, it's his typically dopey analytical style--- evaluating quarterbacks imaginary head to head performances based on their "surrounding talent." It's like talking footbal with your unbearably stupid third cousin. Anything for an actual game !

sizeDD writes:

in response to Huttdawg100:

The only USC cast-off I want to see as a Vol is Jesse Scroggins.

I'll just be happy when Tyler Bray commits this weekend. Pretty much a done deal don't you think?
GO VOLS!

ALL_VOL75 writes:

in response to bluetick:

For all of the complaints from many about Clausen and Ainge, I bet right now you wish they were still on the roster. :)

Clausen yes! Ainge??? NO! Dont think I can ever forgive him for the SEC Championship game...I would argue that if Crompton had Coach Cut, he would have been just as good as Ainge if not better. I hope Crompton has a great year, and that the fans/coaches dont turn on him the first time he makes a mistake. I hope I never have to hear Neyland Stadium boooo a quarter back like last year.

OrangePride writes:

I suppose these comparisoms look at things thru a different, and perhaps interesting, way. But until we see what happens in these first 3 games, I see no way to really evaluate the QB situation at Tennessee. It starts where there should be a good showcase for Crompton to gather some nice stats. UCLA will be very revealing, but I doubt that he could possibly do worse than last year...so definitely, the edge to UT there. Florida! Now here is a game that will tell A LOT. Last year, the troubles started when there was pressure. Well, expect pressure and plenty of it in the Swamp. THEN, we will see what progress has been made. GO VOLS!

OrangePride writes:

Oh, BTW John. I totally disagree with that Memphis analysis! IF, the QB play in that game is just even, then we are in more trouble than we imagine. We need to be CLEARLY better in that game. CLEARLY! Go Vols.

RockinTop writes:

in response to OrangeMagic:

Excuses, eh? I'd like to hear you calling in sick on a Monday morning :) Doesn't it make sense that a quarterback, especially one at a high profile university like UT receives way more focus than other players? They get more of the credit and more of the blame. He had a bad year last year and had death threats. No player should have to go through that and there were plenty other players having bad years. Here's to everybody at UT having a better year this year.

Yep, Either they do the job or they do not.

Hopefully there wont be any excuses. No body ever said it was going to be easy, so don't expect it to be. That's what I mean....tired of the excuses.

As for the cowards making death threats....he should've filed a police report.

Go Big Orange!

richvol writes:

in response to ThurmondEppy:

How about Dave Mustaine?

Personally,I like the '65 mustain...

golfballs03 writes:

I'd say that's fair

cmoore7 writes:

FYI: in the last full scrimmage at Bama, McElroy threw two Ints and fumbled. That's bad if Saban starts pulling his 1st teamers early in the last scrimmage as most(all) teams do(I expect he does as well). Parole Tide! Parole!

TommyJack writes:

in response to richvol:

Personally,I like the '65 mustain...

Always liked Mustain Sally.

steve22043#233791 writes:

I'm glad Crompton's getting a chance this year. It would be unfair to judge him from last years performance with a starting running back who fumbled so much (clearly losing two games for us) and was never that good anyway, poor line and receivers play which was partly a result of the left hand not knowing what the right hand was doing due to the crazy scheme Fulmer let the OC install. I think Crompton will do great this year.

murrayvol writes:

in response to DeltaCharlie:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Too late. Arena football is no more.

murrayvol writes:

in response to xvolx:

who in their right mind would evaluate Crompton on last years team. An off. line that didn't know who to block, receivers that didn't understand the off. or pass routes, a running back that couldn't hold on to the ball, but was blazing fast east to west and finally the most confusing man in the world. Clawson and the one that hired him Fulmer. Crompton will finally get a chance to show his talents. Here is one vol fan that is his corner.

I think most of us are in his corner. Choices are Slim and Barely. I'm afraid last year left too many scars. Hope I'm worng.

murrayvol writes:

in response to jsm67vol:

If you know anything of Clawson's history, you should know that his history shows that every team he has coached has done very poorly the first year or two after he implements his offensive system. I agree that Crompton is a better QB than Clawson's off made him look and UT is a better team than Clawson's off made them look. UT fans don't want to hear that Clawson is a good coach, but I believe he is a good coach. I hate the way my beloved Vols looked last season and I do blame his scheme for the poor performance. But Clawson's resume shows that it takes typically 2 years for that system to become effective. UT couldn't wait that long to be successful again. I have no hate for Clawson. He was the catalyst in getting Fulmer out and this new staff in. Fulmer is a UT legend to me but his time was up. Go Vols! Go Bowling Green too though they are likely 2 yrs from success with Clawson. If BG gives him time they will be a successful program again, IMO.

I know little about Clawson's history. I do know we didn't see much of his offense last year.

What we got was a mixed bag of Cutcliffe Lite and Clawson and the result was obvious to all.

murrayvol writes:

in response to supersmo18:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

And we were favored by how much over Wyoming?

murrayvol writes:

in response to cmoore7:

FYI: in the last full scrimmage at Bama, McElroy threw two Ints and fumbled. That's bad if Saban starts pulling his 1st teamers early in the last scrimmage as most(all) teams do(I expect he does as well). Parole Tide! Parole!

"Parole Tide!" Well played. :)

ctownvol writes:

in response to RockinTop:

Frankly I am tired of excuses...."been through alot"? What player hasnt?

Excuses don't count, either you do the job or you do not.

Yoda said it best: "Do or do not... there is no try."

RockinTop writes:

in response to tweetdriver63#346474:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Name calling puts you in the same category as those who would make those alleged threats....of which, there is no proof i.e. police reports.

As for the rest of your post..~yawn~..all excuses. I suppose if he stinks the place up again it will be because he is in 4th or 5th system, hurt, or the boos... Poor fella. He is not the first player to have gone through the adversities you mentioned. Furthermore, great players perform in any system. I hope he can perform in this one, no excuses!

Go Big Orange!

RockinTop writes:

in response to ctownvol:

Yoda said it best: "Do or do not... there is no try."

....and that's my point CtownVol! Glad somebody gets it.

Go Big Orange!

volfan7 writes:

I still think that a two quarterback system would work for UT, at least until we can find a tall, talented drop back, pro style quarterback, like Peyton Manning. Yes, I am talking about Stephens and Crompton alternating as QB's. Steve Spurrier used a two QB system with some effectiveness for a few years. I say it should be used next year.

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