Nick Stephens armed with knowledge

Quarterback poured over film of Kiffin’s offense while injured

Nick Stephens on his first snaps of spring practice

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UT head football coach, Lane Kiffin, talks with the media following practice at Haslam Field Tuesday, March 31, 2009.

UT head football coach, Lane Kiffin, talks with the media following practice at Haslam Field Tuesday, March 31, 2009. Watch »

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Physically, Nick Stephens is ahead of schedule. Mentally, he’s ahead of the curve, too.

On Tuesday, the junior quarterback took his first snaps from center of spring practice. Jonathan Crompton, though, took the most snaps.

As Stephens continues to recover from a broken right wrist, Crompton has been making strides in the battle to become Tennessee’s starting quarterback.

Based on Crompton’s performance through UT’s first six practices, first-year coach Lane Kiffin decided to surprise the senior with extended first-team reps.

“I didn’t make a big deal out of it. I didn’t even tell him it was going to happen,” Kiffin said. “I talked to (sophomore quarterback) B.J. (Coleman), but I didn’t even tell Jonathan. I wanted to see how he’d react. Would that be added pressure? And all of a sudden, would he regress? But he came out and looked even better, so that was a great reaction to it.”

Meanwhile Stephens, who started six games last season, reacted well to his most extended work of spring practice, Kiffin said.

“It was really good to see him out there,” Kiffin said. “He looked comfortable, especially in his decision making and his drops for what we did with him today. We’ll keep giving him more and more.”

Stephens, who had a cast on his throwing hand for UT’s first three practices, has been trying to take more responsibility.

He’s spent extra time watching film, both of Kiffin’s offense at Southern California and UT’s practices in order to keep up mentally. Stephens watched Coleman and Crompton make the throws, but he’d quiz himself on where the ball should go and why.

“I feel like every play that Coach Kiffin called out there, I went up to the line and knew what I was looking for,” Stephens said. “I knew I’d make the right read. In 7-on-7, I was slow with one ball a couple times but other than that I made all the right reads. I’m comfortable with where I am mentally.”

But Stephens wasn’t the only one putting in extra time. Crompton has been busy watching Southern California tape, too.

“I have a lot of free time on my own to come watch film on weekends and during the week, getting in my playbook,” he said. “I’m trying to get as comfortable as I can with the offense. Obviously (Kiffin’s offense) has paid off in the past, and we’re trying to make it pay off here.”

Prior to Tuesday, Stephens had been limited to mainly short throws. He had the cast removed last week, ahead of schedule.

But with Stephens sidelined, Crompton and Coleman have both had extra snaps. Those extra chances to not only study the offense but actually run it have paid off.

“I think it helped (Crompton) a lot,” receiver Gerald Jones said. “I think if Nick wasn’t hurt, it would probably have cut the snap reps down. It’s helped him and actually it’s benefited him. He got a lot better, and he took advantage of it.”

Stephens just hopes to take advantage of the remaining seven practices leading up to the Orange and White Game on April 18.

Participating in his first 7-on-7 drills of the spring, Stephens said his reads were good, but several of his passes sailed high or weren’t easy to catch for receivers.

“My grip, the strength isn’t there yet,” said Stephens, who said he feels about 85 percent healthy. “The pain is not that bad. It’s just the grip strength. That’s one of the things I’m working on in the training room. When normally I can just grab it and just do whatever I want with it, right now I’m having to keep it up high and make sure it’s not sailing on me.”

Keeping up, though, hasn’t been a problem.

Kiffin said he’s noticed Stephens asking questions during practice and watching extra film.

“For what he’s been able to do, he’s sat in extra meetings, really studied, asked questions,” Kiffin said. “Even on the field when he wasn’t able to do it, he’d come over and ask questions. I thought he looked really comfortable today. He didn’t look like a guy that it was his first shot out there.”

And although Crompton has pleased UT’s coaches so far, Stephens should still get the chance to impress. Stephens expects to get his first live work during Saturday’s first full scrimmage of spring practice.

And there’s no timetable for naming a starter, either.

“We’re just going to keep coaching them,” quarterbacks coach David Reaves said. “That’s on Coach Kiffin. Whenever he makes that decision, I’m going to go with it.”

Dave Hooker contributed to this report.

Drew Edwards covers University of Tennessee football. He may be reached at 865-342-6274.

© 2009 govolsxtra.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Comments » 180

Major_Magilicutty writes:

I totally thought it said Arrested with Knowledge! Glad that's not the case. LOL

bigorangefan79 writes:

I hope both QB's are more succesful in this new system. They definately have more confidence than at this time last year.

fatheadvol writes:

dam only my second post ever ---were on a roll --go big orange

OLROCKYTOP writes:

Any news on any quaterback recruits for 2010?

yabadabadoo1026 writes:

in response to smokeyspooperscooper:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

what a juvenile moron you are

thevoice writes:

Well, when our QBs were where they were at the end of last season, there's only one direction to go: UP. Keep getting better guys; last year wasn't your fault but more so the system.

n2thecheckerboards2 writes:

i dont care who starts. Its all about who makes good reads and can deliver. Lets win and ill be happy.

Voluvr writes:

For most that have been a UT fan longer than 3 months we will believe it when we see it with Crompton. If Kiffin turns him around...it will be the biggest turn around since Paul went to Demascus.

n2thecheckerboards2 writes:

in response to volsgatorbait:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Sorry my pen doesnt allow me to write such garbage.

VAvolfanRON writes:

good god.....not a single mature post on here......(directed at the 'first....second..etc. and gatorzz)

i think this is great.....i think JC can do it.....if not...Stephens...and I'm waiting on Coleman to develop...

i still say we have 3 good QB's....(come on guys, positvie posts!!)...

mike_d writes:

Comments are the sole responsibility of the person posting them. You agree not to post comments that are off topic, defamatory, obscene, abusive, threatening or an invasion of privacy. Violators may be banned.

Someone put some effort into putting this disclaimer on each article. Too bad they dont back it up. It makes it hard to be a fan of any school or any sport, when you are guilty by association by trying to make a sensible comment with the people they let run all over this site. Does anyone know a place that has "grown up" talk about the vols sports news?

sdbgovols writes:

Without a great QB in the SEC it will be hard to win a game in conference no matter who you are playing. I love the VOLS, but with a below average QB (playing in the SEC) it will be hard to win more than 7-8 games. I have loved the VOLS since 82, graduated in 2004, and will bleed ORANGE until the day I die. Win 2 of the 4 games between FL, GA, AL, SC, and make a bowl, GREAT YEAR. DO NOT THROW THE BALL!! RUN THE BALL!! TRADITION!! SMASH MOUTH!!! GO VOLS!!

VAvolfanRON writes:

in response to Navalorange:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

navel and n2theCheckerboard...

picture this......a gator says 'what this...im going onto a vol website a get them rile......watch this...and he posts this phooey...

you are falling into his trap.....let it be.....he has been asked to put his money where his mouth is many of times...he wont do it....

you guys are being had

VAvolfanRON writes:

in response to biggestutfan:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

you say that...and I do agree...but, dont be suprised if we dont have one or two other DB's come up and hit harder!!!

and keep in mind EB has two other brothers that HE says are better than him that will be vols!!!

VAvolfanRON writes:

in response to Navalorange:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Sorry, I spelled your nick wrong.....i meant naval...

but....i can see some guys sitting back and with friends around......and say watch this......and post this.....(he tells his friends watch the fools that respond)......do you see what im saying?....they are egging you on...you are playing into their trap and loving it......

that's all I'm saying....but, its just me.....go for it if you like....who am i to say

Southpaw_Vol writes:

in response to volsgatorbait:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Its wrote down alright. And when UF doesn't even score half that and we beat them, this post from you will be my signature on every message board I'm on so everyone can see how ignorant Gator fans really are.

I'll be writing down that all Gator fans are dumazzes too. Florida won't even score 63 on us in the next 3 years, total. And for you Gator morons, thats less than 21 pts a year on us for the next 3 years. Write that down!

VAvolfanRON writes:

when will yall ever learn??.....

they thrive on your reponses...you are fueling the fire....

volquest here i come

VAvolfanRON writes:

since the immature arrogant gator fans are on here.....i'll go to the gator site to have a civll football conversation!!!!....

gnm53108 writes:

Good luck Nick,were pullin for ya.

VAvolfanRON writes:

you too, my fellow vol....keep the shiny side up

VAvolfanRON writes:

in response to Navalorange:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

I understand totally....that's why people are different.....

do what you have to do!!!....lol...i just dont care to respond to these kids......now if someone came on here and posted intellegen, civil comments...i'm for it....we are americans first!!

gnm53108 writes:

in response to VAvolfanRON:

you say that...and I do agree...but, dont be suprised if we dont have one or two other DB's come up and hit harder!!!

and keep in mind EB has two other brothers that HE says are better than him that will be vols!!!

Have we offered yet?

VAvolfanRON writes:

in response to gnm53108:

Have we offered yet?

if I'm not mistaken they are freshmen...so no

gnm53108 writes:

in response to VAvolfanRON:

if I'm not mistaken they are freshmen...so no

Details,details,we dont need no stinkin details.

I wouldnt care if we already offered his grandchildren.

VAvolfanRON writes:

lmao......you just cracked me up..thanks!!!

VAvolfanRON writes:

btw.....a poster on volnation had a pic of Oku and Teague admiring.....i mean watching pratice a few days ago!!...i can't find the link anymore..sorry

DrJCrown_theMagicMan writes:

in response to volsgatorbait:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Where perhaps would you like me to write it down?
How about on a roll of toliet paper to wipe my butt after take-in the nastiest dump ever.

Since also do you say write this down on every post...WHY The heck would anyone write it down.

You sir are a moron!
Futhermore if you are so sure then... take that bet to a bookie.They would jump on that and take the points.
Anyone would take the bet with the points!!!!!!!!!!

YESSIR you are a moron.
You maybe perhaps the biggestt idiot ever and trust me I see many I declare each day that may be worthy of that title.

AM I the only one that notices things like this and thinks this really is stupid?

Go put on your Jorts and comb your mullet and quit dreaming you TARD!!!!!

belayvol writes:

in response to volsgatorbait:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Florida will not win a third title. Tebow will not win another maxwell house cup, and will not sniff another heisman. This is your Phil Mickleson year. Yips and skips all over the place. You are now snakebitten. No more perfect games, just close games lost at the end to knock you out. I forsee a mass huddling in the showers with tebow leading the tears. You coulda been somebody. You coulda been a contenduh.

belayvol writes:

in response to VAvolfanRON:

btw.....a poster on volnation had a pic of Oku and Teague admiring.....i mean watching pratice a few days ago!!...i can't find the link anymore..sorry

douglasawilliams#582863 writes:

Florida is just a game all 12 count. Yes, they have beat us the last 4 years and the last 2 were blowouts. I do expect Florida to beat us this season but this year there will at least be a game. I'm a VOL fan but give Florida some credit they are the best team in the country. I wish the schedule allowed us to play Florida near the end of the season instead of the begining. Does anyone get sick of always finishing with Vandy and Kentucky? I'm not for trashing all scheduling tradition, like the 3rd Saturday in October playing Alabama, but mix it up some please. It would be nice to watch a game at the end of the season that could determine who wins the east.

G8RH8R writes:

in response to volsgatorbait:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

DO NOT FEED THE INTERLOPERS!!!!!!

oldvolsfan writes:

in response to volsgatorbait:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

the sun dose not shine on the same dog's a-- all the time dirtbag

dvhill100 writes:

Don't care who starts. I just want the best one to manage the game/team and at least be an average SEC quarterback. If one separates himself from the others this spring, so much the better. If it takes until fall, then okay. LK can develop the quarterback with Reeves, and he certainly knows what a good quarterback is and can do from his USC days.

Despite the trials and tribulations from last year, I think any of the three can do fine in this offense, especially if the running game is effective. Then we throw when we want to, not when we have to. I'll trust LK to make the right call. He certainly has more expertise on the subject than I do.

Triton1 writes:

JC got one coach fired, now he's workin' like heck on another.

smokyredbone writes:

in response to IdentityTheftVictim09:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Now thats Rich! Rollin!

pdhuff#552644 writes:

in response to VAvolfanRON:

navel and n2theCheckerboard...

picture this......a gator says 'what this...im going onto a vol website a get them rile......watch this...and he posts this phooey...

you are falling into his trap.....let it be.....he has been asked to put his money where his mouth is many of times...he wont do it....

you guys are being had

That post should be etched in fan's minds before they rise to the bait.

StroVol writes:

in response to volsgatorbait:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

No need to write it down. You've taken care of that for three weeks now.

BigMix writes:

157 days TILL FOOTBALL TIME IN TENNESSEE!!!!!!!

Timed_vol (Inactive) writes:

btw, NIck, lose the sideburns. make you like something from the 60's....

StroVol writes:

in response to volsgatorbait:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

LSU-35
UF-13

Write it down. Good Luck in Death Valley Goob

Red_October writes:

in response to volsgatorbait:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

WOW! So, EB took on Florida all by himself??

Idiot.

dvols writes:

i heard there was a plane on the way to gainesville to pick up coach meyer and take him to lexington!

AllVol2008#1353998 writes:

in response to Voluvr:

For most that have been a UT fan longer than 3 months we will believe it when we see it with Crompton. If Kiffin turns him around...it will be the biggest turn around since Paul went to Demascus.

Now that's some darned fine Bible Belt humor. I agree. It could happen, but put Crompton in a game at Florida?!

I mean, he may be the best we've got this year. Maybe we won't even recognize him! Who knows?

AllVol2008#1353998 writes:

in response to bob4ut:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

I hate Georgia more than any of them. Florida's damned good. Why hate them? Most of their fans are not idiots. they love football and their tem wins.

We'll catch up.

Docrok writes:

in response to IdentityTheftVictim09:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Could Memphis really afford to give Pearl that kind of money???

TDTN writes:

in response to volsgatorbait:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Ask Donovan, he knows all about being dominated by his rival.

aurora0317 writes:

in response to Docrok:

Could Memphis really afford to give Pearl that kind of money???

Probably, they told Calipari they would match whatever Kentucky offered him...

Docrok writes:

in response to aurora0317:

Probably, they told Calipari they would match whatever Kentucky offered him...

Holy He!! Why did he leave then????

aurora0317 writes:

in response to Docrok:

Holy He!! Why did he leave then????

I don't know, I assume the prestige of coaching at UK rather than Memphis.

Here's the CBS article that said they would match it.
http://www.cbssports.com/collegebaske...

Mr_Bandman writes:

yeah...but those guys practiced well last year, too....

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