Under center, under fire: All eyes on QBs

Crompton, Tebow in spotlight

There's no disputing the edge.

The Heisman Trophy winner is on the other sideline.

The quarterback is the unquestioned leader of that team, and there are no firing squads lining up to take shots at him.

That used to be familiar territory for Tennessee coach Lane Kiffin, but for one of the first times in his college career, he has a decided underdog at the most important position on the field. And even if Jonathan Crompton and Tim Tebow aren't exactly going head to head on Saturday in The Swamp (TV: WVLT, 3:30 p.m.), the disparity certainly underlines the challenge for the Vols against No. 1 Florida.

"They're not playing against each other," Kiffin said. "This is always about us. Look at the last game, that wasn't about UCLA. That was about us not playing well, and if we would have played well we would have won that game.

"This happens to be the next game, Jonathan is going to need to play well and it's a great matchup."

Obviously on paper it appears to be a bit lopsided, particularly under center after last weekend's struggles against the Bruins.

Not many players in the nation would compare favorably against Tebow, though Crompton's case became harder to make after throwing three interceptions and essentially forcing the Vols to operate a predictable, one-dimensional offense.

Kiffin is still squarely in Crompton's corner and hasn't budged about keeping him in the starting lineup, though he has cut the senior off from the media this week to try to limit distractions.

"He can't worry about the other stuff and what people are saying," Kiffin said. "This is a great university to play at, but when things go bad, because there is so much focus on football, you're going to hear about it. You're going to hear about it when you're at breakfast, when you're at lunch, when you're at dinner, when you're walking to class, and that makes it a difficult situation to handle.

"We're going to monitor that. . . . I've talked to him, and we're going to really focus on this game plan, focus on this week and that's all he can do."

The Vols will clearly need him to do a bit more against the hard-hitting Gators, but that's true at other positions as well.

Kiffin has repeatedly pointed to a couple of critical dropped passes and missed blocking assignments that didn't help Crompton any against the Bruins. The Vols also had issues with a missed exchange, poor timing on routes and little success breaking any significant gains in the running game, but if they're going to clear them up, they're going to do it with Crompton on the field.

"I think Jonathan is still a good quarterback," freshman tailback David Oku said. "We all make mistakes, and it wasn't just Jonathan.

"Games are not always going to go the way you plan them to, that's why you come to practice, that's why you do more film study. It's just about us as players, we have to find the edge. Jonathan's all right, I still believe in Jonathan and if Nick (Stephens) came in, I'd still believe in Nick. That's just a team effort."

The other team this week doesn't even need to address the possibility of another quarterback taking over, a sense of comfort Kiffin used to have at USC with guys like Carson Palmer and Matt Leinart.

There's no upper hand this week, but there's also no question which arm the Vols are using.

"As you guys know, (Crompton) didn't have a very successful year last year so as soon as bad things happen like that (last) game, everything goes back to him," Kiffin said. "That will always be the situation with the quarterback. When your team plays well, when your offense plays well, you'll get more credit than deserved.

"When the offense plays poorly, they get more critics than they deserve."

Either way, all eyes will be on the quarterback again this week.

Both of them.

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Comments » 136

TommyJack writes:

OK by me if JC has a huge game against the gators.
10 more games in this rebuilding year.

bspurlingcac#225603 writes:

Can our fullback get into an athletic possition? Can some one tell me why his butt is touching the ground at the start of every play and he has to stand up just to make his first step forward? It just something I noticed.

Couchdummy writes:

Got to admire Kiffin for having Crompton's back. I am holding comments and trusting in Crompton to reach his potential.

ncvol17 writes:

Give JC Maxwell Smarts CONE OF SILENCE....as for a win = missed it by that much.......

sizematters writes:

dont realy care who starts as long as they manage the game and doesnt hurt the team with poor play

cobbwebb writes:

this program is at a crossroad, we can either man up, or slip into mediocrity for the next 10 years! these young men need to take a long look in the mirror, and decide if they want to be remembered for something special, like hitting tebow, and the mighty gators in the mouth, or remembered for getting slaughtered and embarrased in the swamp! the entire nation is counting the vols out, what do you have to lose? go to the swamp, bust someone in the teeth, knock the living hell out of someone, have fun playing football, which is a game(we sometime forget), and come back to knoxville with your head held high! GO BIG ORANGE!!!!!

cobbwebb writes:

I agree, you cant just throw stephens to the "gators", then you stand the chance of losing 2 qbs. im just not confident in stephens,nor crompton(obviously) i hope im wrong. i dont care which qb it is, i just want one of them to step up and lead this team!

gatorhator4eva writes:

miracle in the swamp, comming up? we'll see CROMPTON NEEDS TO STEP UP and berry, brown, oku, and hardesty need to play there best game ever. our defence is good, but passing is so-so. luckily this game the last 15 of 17 meetings have been decided by running game.

go vols!

Madkels writes:

in response to FreeTDTN:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

=? Slaughter (getting really old isn't it)

teampenny#658108 writes:

LK under estimated the problem at QB when he toke the job. He should have made a greater effort in signing QB's. Plus, it always has appeared JC was the LK's QB of choice-the other two was not given an equal chance.

cobbwebb writes:

think about it guys, this is the last damn time we have to watch tebow play our vols! lets send him out in style.... with his mouth wired shut! i dont want the guy hurt badly, i just want him to know he has been in a slobberknocker, something he has never endured against my vols!

PumpUptheVOLume writes:

in response to cobbwebb:

this program is at a crossroad, we can either man up, or slip into mediocrity for the next 10 years! these young men need to take a long look in the mirror, and decide if they want to be remembered for something special, like hitting tebow, and the mighty gators in the mouth, or remembered for getting slaughtered and embarrased in the swamp! the entire nation is counting the vols out, what do you have to lose? go to the swamp, bust someone in the teeth, knock the living hell out of someone, have fun playing football, which is a game(we sometime forget), and come back to knoxville with your head held high! GO BIG ORANGE!!!!!

That's the best post I've seen in a long time. Nothing special, just Man Up, have fun and knock 'em in the mouth.....
GO VOLS

davethevol writes:

in response to cobbwebb:

think about it guys, this is the last damn time we have to watch tebow play our vols! lets send him out in style.... with his mouth wired shut! i dont want the guy hurt badly, i just want him to know he has been in a slobberknocker, something he has never endured against my vols!

You don't want him hurt badly, but you still want him hurt, right? That's a truly pathetic attitude and you are a disgrace to the Volnation. Tim Tebow may play for another team, but he is one of the best collegiate athletes we will ever see and he seems to be a downright good person. I hope we beat Florida, and I hope he doesn't perform well. But I certainly don't wish any harm on him.

CoverOrange writes:

It is absolutely critical that CLK and Reaves turn JC into a serviceable QB. What many star high schooler would come here if Lane can't improve JC even a little bit.

bigorange_inbham writes:

Did anybody happen to catch Lane Kiffin's show? They asked him if he thought about putting Stephens in and his response was "no not all all, Crompton is our quarterback" the entire show he just made excuse after excuse for him. Does he not realize that this is how he was every game he started last year.

Don't get me wrong I love my vols but it's not to do anybody any good at the end of theseason if we miss another bowl game but Kiffin stuck with Crompton!

Laydbakvol writes:

in response to Witch_Doctor:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Sorry W_Dr., but your bones lied to you last week, so I don't put much stock in them this week. By the way, How are your fingers? J. C. didn't lose that game. It's true he didn't win it either but he did manage a decent drive at the end that could have. Play calling and an outmanned O-line are more to blame than his three interceptions. I'd like to see some positive suggestions on how to go about beating Florida instead of the whining and finger pointing. eg. Put E.B. back to where he can do his thing. Whatever. But as long as there are Appy States in the world, We will believe!

gatorhator4eva writes:

Tebow is OVERRATED. wayyyy overrated. i hope tebow gets smashed along with his we can never lose attitude. i will be in the swamp for this one. the country is watching kiffin, the time is now, put up or shut up.

cobbwebb writes:

in response to davethevol:

You don't want him hurt badly, but you still want him hurt, right? That's a truly pathetic attitude and you are a disgrace to the Volnation. Tim Tebow may play for another team, but he is one of the best collegiate athletes we will ever see and he seems to be a downright good person. I hope we beat Florida, and I hope he doesn't perform well. But I certainly don't wish any harm on him.

go wipe your runny nose, pansy! knocking the snot out of him makes him any less of a person? football is a mans game, the object of the game is to inflict pain on your opponent! maybe coach meyer will let him wear a green jersey, and the refs will blow the whistle upon contact. guys like you are the reason we will one day be watching the NFFL, the national flag football league! i bet you dont want kids to play dodgeball in school either do you? call out someone else pal, and get off my case!

tennisvol writes:

If LKs job depended on this season, JC would be on the bench.

DennisVols writes:

Sometimes what you don't say, says more about you than what you do say.
Jonathan Crompton Vs. the World: Tennessee QB's Attitude Hurting Volunteers

http://bleacherreport.com/articles/25...

This is an eye opening look at the lack of responsibility Crompton has taken throughout his UT career.
Keeping it Real
Go Vols!!!

Gator_Hater (Inactive) writes:

in response to davethevol:

You don't want him hurt badly, but you still want him hurt, right? That's a truly pathetic attitude and you are a disgrace to the Volnation. Tim Tebow may play for another team, but he is one of the best collegiate athletes we will ever see and he seems to be a downright good person. I hope we beat Florida, and I hope he doesn't perform well. But I certainly don't wish any harm on him.

Screw that! Tebow taunts other players and teams and hides behind a bible. I wanna see him spitting teeth and wondering where he is! GO VOLS!!

coach75 writes:

never wish anyone to get hurt, but it would be hilarious to listen to the Gators if timmy were to go down not play the rest of the season. i can see it now, if we had timmy we would not be in this position. remind you i am not saying hurt tebow, but what kind of cheese would oscar meyer want with his whine if that happened?

Gator_Hater (Inactive) writes:

in response to volzone919:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

I haven't seen Brantley play much yet. How does he look in practice? (I'm sure you're gonna tell me we'll see enough of him by halftime Saturday, lol). Has he gotten in the game in any clutch situations yet? I'm being serious here, no need to reply nastily.

hglover40#234154 writes:

in response to Laydbakvol:

Sorry W_Dr., but your bones lied to you last week, so I don't put much stock in them this week. By the way, How are your fingers? J. C. didn't lose that game. It's true he didn't win it either but he did manage a decent drive at the end that could have. Play calling and an outmanned O-line are more to blame than his three interceptions. I'd like to see some positive suggestions on how to go about beating Florida instead of the whining and finger pointing. eg. Put E.B. back to where he can do his thing. Whatever. But as long as there are Appy States in the world, We will believe!

Was the O - line outmanned or was UCLA able to put everyone in the box because they weren't afraid of Crompton and the passing game? I'm no expert but that seems to be what happens when a team is one dimensional. But we still managed to run it pretty well in the 4th quarter when UCLA and everyone knew what was coming.

tdvol1989 writes:

Yes, Crompton starts. But, for me (ala Randy Jackson), it is not about the score, but how Crompton plays. If he does not learn to stop locking in on a person and throwing it no matter what (unlike the coaches, I was VERY concerned with his interceptions agains Western, KY as he Gomer-Pyled the 2nd one by invoking the "fool-me-twice shame on me" philosphy by throwing into the brick wall again), then I would give Stephens some reps. Then, let Nick start the Ohio game and see if we can get some momentum.

But, IF you go with Stephens, you have to stick with him NO MATTER WHAT! You absolutely cannot go back and forth. I do not want to Crompton bash, but I have said it before on this site. Crompton was just not born with a horseshoe up his...butt. He is really being put in a bad position as I just do not really think he is SEC starter material. And, he has no chance to really play like a senior because he is not running the same system for his 4th year in a row. Plus, he is not an improvisor at all. If the O-line caves, he is not going to make something happen. It is just a no win for him...unless he really rebounds. But, I don't hate him because I believe he really wanted that win against UCLA and I think he really tried.

Watch out Saturday! The Defense has a real chance to keep us in the game as long as we do not turn it over. No, we ain't gonna win. Call me hopelessly optimistic for a good effort, but isn't that what fans should be like? Heck! Would any of us really want to have to go to the Swamp and start when the whole Vol-nation was angry with us???

utwick writes:

in response to Witch_Doctor:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Hey, W.D., how 'bout breaking out some "spells" for this game? A little voodoo at this point could never hurt.

smokey_vols writes:

in response to sizematters:

dont realy care who starts as long as they manage the game and doesnt hurt the team with poor play

exactly man. Well said

utwick writes:

in response to tdvol1989:

Yes, Crompton starts. But, for me (ala Randy Jackson), it is not about the score, but how Crompton plays. If he does not learn to stop locking in on a person and throwing it no matter what (unlike the coaches, I was VERY concerned with his interceptions agains Western, KY as he Gomer-Pyled the 2nd one by invoking the "fool-me-twice shame on me" philosphy by throwing into the brick wall again), then I would give Stephens some reps. Then, let Nick start the Ohio game and see if we can get some momentum.

But, IF you go with Stephens, you have to stick with him NO MATTER WHAT! You absolutely cannot go back and forth. I do not want to Crompton bash, but I have said it before on this site. Crompton was just not born with a horseshoe up his...butt. He is really being put in a bad position as I just do not really think he is SEC starter material. And, he has no chance to really play like a senior because he is not running the same system for his 4th year in a row. Plus, he is not an improvisor at all. If the O-line caves, he is not going to make something happen. It is just a no win for him...unless he really rebounds. But, I don't hate him because I believe he really wanted that win against UCLA and I think he really tried.

Watch out Saturday! The Defense has a real chance to keep us in the game as long as we do not turn it over. No, we ain't gonna win. Call me hopelessly optimistic for a good effort, but isn't that what fans should be like? Heck! Would any of us really want to have to go to the Swamp and start when the whole Vol-nation was angry with us???

Good post. Pull for the Vols to play hard and not give up regardless of score. Crompton is trying. He wants to win, just having a hard time getting there against competitive teams.

jsm67vol writes:

in response to CoverOrange:

It is absolutely critical that CLK and Reaves turn JC into a serviceable QB. What many star high schooler would come here if Lane can't improve JC even a little bit.

He has improved a little bit, see wku game. He beat his entire season for td passes from last season in one game. Can he do it under pressure? Not so far.

volman67 writes:

i know things may look bad this week,we may be playing some super football players wearing capes, especially that player tebone,,but i believe,, i pray johnathon turns into cromptonite,just a little humor to ease the pain,,go vols

Gator_Hater (Inactive) writes:

in response to DeltaCharlie:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

I'm calling BS on that one. Big time. Heard similar comments from UF, Bama, FSU, Miami, and Ole Miss fans in person. And all of the comments made were about UT players. Not saying UT fans don't do it, heck I'd love to see Tebow knocked stupid, but get off your high horse dude. You're so full of s___ that I can smell your turd-breath in East Tennessee.

Laydbakvol writes:

in response to hglover40#234154:

Was the O - line outmanned or was UCLA able to put everyone in the box because they weren't afraid of Crompton and the passing game? I'm no expert but that seems to be what happens when a team is one dimensional. But we still managed to run it pretty well in the 4th quarter when UCLA and everyone knew what was coming.

You're right. That was a big part of it. That's the play calling. Crompton had that 26 yarder to Q. Hancock during that last drive. So it wasn't like he crawled off and hid. I still think we have something to build on. Also no offensive or defensive penalties.

rickytopvol writes:

in response to grvol:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

that was a good one grvol

whatcanbrowndoforyou writes:

This is football every time we get a chance to pile drive tebow we had better punish him!! As for our Qb this is his game, if he shows up and plays football Tennessee style and keeps us in the game everyone will forget about ucla and will have a much different opinion of him after the game. However, if he falls flat on his face again it may be in his best interest to stay in florida and not come back to knoxville. I still believe in him and his ability to get the job done. Yea I know laugh but he is our qb and I stick with my Vols.

kazoo writes:

in response to Couchdummy:

Got to admire Kiffin for having Crompton's back. I am holding comments and trusting in Crompton to reach his potential.

Reach his potential? Are you kidding? Isn't this crompton's 5th year in the system?? He has no potential. His "potential" is more bad football. There are freshmen QBs around the country who are much better than crompton. Stephens started four games last year--including against georgia and bama--and put up good numbers, plus ZERO turnovers. I'm flabbergasted that Kiffin is playing crompton, frankly--is Stephens injured? If not I'm already worried about the coach's judgment. I swear, it's like Fulmer has come back in the guise of a blonde-haired 37-year...

Gator_Hater (Inactive) writes:

in response to DeltaCharlie:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Dang! Cannon for an arm and mobile to boot? Played some in some mop-up action with good numbers, all the potential in the world...

Sounds familiar, doesn't it?

Don't get your hopes too high. We got somebody who fits that bill and actually got his freshman numbers against RANKED teams.

Look at him now. He's a punchline.

amstelman writes:

Is covering a 29 point spread a respectable performance?

Is a loss at the swamp by less than 15 a moral victory?

I can't imagine any true fan of the game wanting to see any player hurt. I'd like to see Tebow frustrated! I'd like to see him on his butt with the ball already out, nine yards behind the line of scrimage a few times.

I think we all know which column this game will likely land in, but props to Tim Tebow and Spikes as players.

The VOLS will give their best and play with class and determination. Giving their all for Tennessee is what we as fans deserve and what I believe each player will feel like they did at the end of the day.

Beyond that, let that little pointed ball roll and bounce as it may.

Gator_Hater (Inactive) writes:

in response to DeltaCharlie:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

I smell fear. He hasn't had any pressure yet, either.

Wonder if he'll fold, too.

Kinda like Terry Dean.

RockinTop writes:

Interestings CLK makes no mention of the wide open recievers that Crompton never saw....just like last year. Course I wouldnt expect him too...and he doesnt have to, we all saw it, and so did he on film.

I think that bleacher report link does say it all. You can only play the team spirit stuff so much.

I also think CLK is making a HUGE mistake by leaving Crompton as QB. But I also think it isnt right to throw Stephens into such a big game.

But mark this down. The Gators are going to get after Crompton, you can count on it. We will not be able to pass so I hope they are planning alot of trick plays and junk. In my mind, putting Stephens in on game day would be the ultimate trick play because they haven't been studying him.

I would admire Kiffin more for making the tough decision (I use that term loosely) to bench him. Leaving him at QB doesnt help anything except to inflame those who pay big money, and not just Alumni, year after year that pays those big salaries.

Would love to eat crow next Saturday afternoon, but I dont think I will. If Crompton is QB...it's going to be ugly.

Go Big Orange.

DRAGtheWATERS writes:

in response to DeltaCharlie:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Only at Tennessee thats a joke. Every defense in the world number one goal is to get a hit on a QB. Thats football Charlie. We all make fun of Tebow because he is the golden child of college football. No one wants him on a stretcher. I just want him looking through the wrong hole in his helmet the whole game.
GO VOLS!!!

xvolx writes:

kiffin is right about one thing. they all played sorry. off. line didn't block, rec. didn't block, fullbacks didn't block, tight ends didn't block. def. ends kept pinching to the inside, leaving sweep to linebackers. they couldn't get to the corner and evans and jackson are afraid to hit. crompton panicked. Kiffin missed one. worst off. play calling since clawfense. He also lied to frosh. that won starting jobs and didn't get to play. The whole team and the coached sucked. go ahead and play Fla. the same way and we'll be down 45-0 at the half.

rockyt writes:

With Crompton set to start, it looks like the decision of whether or not to hold off starting Stephens in order to get him off on the right foot against Ohio has been made...May be the best long term decision, but it's sad to see us heading to Florida with no intentions of trying to win.

Chomp writes:

in response to cobbwebb:

I agree, you cant just throw stephens to the "gators", then you stand the chance of losing 2 qbs. im just not confident in stephens,nor crompton(obviously) i hope im wrong. i dont care which qb it is, i just want one of them to step up and lead this team!

Kiffin threw the whole team to the Gators when he accused their coach of cheating. The Swamp can be a very scary place on a humid Saturday where only the Gator gets out alive!

It's time to feed the big Gator!

bigorange_inbham writes:

Ok so we all know how awful Crompton is his best game as a starter was either Western Kentucky or UAB last year. Why not start Stephens and stick with him for the year, he can't be worse than Crompton (maybe as bad) but he will be playing next year Crompton won't.

If we stick with Crompton all year no matter what, then we are in the same situation next year with Stephens. I don't know I watch all these football games this past weekend and honestly don't see a starting quarterback playing in SEC, WAC, Big Ten, Big 12 that is anywhere close to as bad as Crompton.

Big_Orange_Country writes:

in response to tennisvol:

If LKs job depended on this season, JC would be on the bench.

I agree, I think patience will prevail :)

Bufforange00 writes:

could the Gators loan us Brantley for the season?

balloonman writes:

Hammy.....if you gave Fulmer the budget you gave Kiffin then Fulmer would have paid Cutliff a million and he would never have left for Duke......and what would we have?......Terell Pryor as our starter and much more developed than he is now...... Bj Coleman as our well schooled backup...... a "capable" 3rd teamer in Crompton....and a committment from our QB of the future!.....stupid and vindictive!

VolHeel writes:

Enough with the unrealistic expectations.

The 2009 Vols have no shot at Atlanta this year or next. That will temper our collective anger.

Our O-Line is mediocre, QB play is less than that. The good news is that UT's defense, running backs, receivers, special teams can play with anyone in the nation and we're recruiting those positions great in 2009.

Please give Crompton a little bit of a break. 4 coordinators in 4 years. He bleeds UT orange though, despite last year's treatment (including death threats).

Kiffin needs to coach the team like Bama's Jay Barker championship team. Run, get physical, play physical defense, solid special teams, the very occasional big pass play.

If we run the ball and play defense against UCLA but without the 3 picks, UT wins 13 - 9.

CaptainCalamity writes:

in response to DeltaCharlie:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

The pro style offense works just fine in cfb. Take for example the Michigan St. Spartans and Michigan Wolverines. They run the same type of offense as UT and USC and we all know what's Florida's record against those two Big Ten team is this decade. That's right 0-3. Even the your so called greatest of all time Tebow couldn't beat Michigan. (grin)

Gator_Hater (Inactive) writes:

in response to DeltaCharlie:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Way to change subject there! Aww, wassa madduh? Big bad Gator afwaid Bwantley gonna be the next Cwampton? And you wanna talk about UT fans' class while acknowledging that it would be funny if the entire team were laughed at by 90,000 hicks? Man, you are the BIGGEST HYPOCRITE I think I've ever encountered.

Only in Florida can someone breach the laws of nature and actually smell laughter. Wow.

Wait a minute, they actually have Gator message boards? Holy cow, they figured out how to do it. You'd better hurry up and get back on there before a hurricane blows through and the servers go down. Then again, I always wondered if Tebow could circumcise a tornado.

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