Stephens says he's ready

A pair of offensive units worked simultaneously on both ends of the field.

The first-team group operated with the same quarterback it’s had all season, but with interchangeable parts surrounding him.

At the other end, a backup kept plugged away for a job that might be the only one aside from Eric Berry’s that Tennessee hasn’t officially opened since the season started.

Jonathan Crompton and Nick Stephens were almost literally worlds apart again as practice started for Saturday’s game with Auburn (TV: ESPN, 7:45 p.m.), and barring injury, their roles aren’t likely to change no matter how well the latter performs during the week. The hard part for Stephens is making sure that doesn’t change the way the backup actually does perform.

“I try not to think about that,” Stephens said. “I’m just trying to think about what I can do to improve myself as a football player. I’m not worried about everything else that’s going on around me right now.

“Of course it’s not going to be easy, but you’ve just got to rise above that and just try to stay in a positive manner and help the team, even if it’s not a game. That’s what I’ve been doing, and I’m going to continue to do that. If I get a chance, I’m going to do the best I can to help the team.”

That opportunity doesn’t appear to be coming any time soon, regardless of how much the Vols might be struggling in the passing game.

Only one team in the country has thrown more interceptions than UT’s eight, and all of them belong to Crompton. They’ve come from batted balls, bad decisions and a couple overthrows, but for now his job is safe and coach Lane Kiffin doesn’t have any plans to take it away.

The Vols aren’t going to split the workload either, which is as much a product of their youth at receiver as the belief that Crompton is their best option.

“(Stephens) does not get very many reps because of the receivers,” Kiffin said. “If we had a veteran quarterback, who played a lot for us and our receivers had played a lot and were playing really well, you can give your backup quarterback more reps. But as we continue to try to develop our cohesiveness … we can’t afford to give a bunch of reps to the backup.

“Our expectations for Nick (are) to continue to do a great job, prepare as a starter — like we want all our players to do, but especially at that position because he’s one snap away from going in there. It’s so important for our guys to maximize their reps … because you never know what’s going to happen, never know when they’re going to be in a big-time game having to make plays for us.”

For Stephens that would likely take an injury to Crompton, and for all of his issues, durability hasn’t been one this season.

But if for some reason it became one, Stephens has kept himself ready no matter which group he has practiced with.

“I’m just trying to be as positive as I can be right now,” he said. “These coaches have a plan and they’re doing what they feel is best for the team. Personally, I’m just working as hard as I can to try to get better.”

He’s just doing it at the other end of the field, still waiting for a chance to work when it really matters again.

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Comments » 207

SmokeyHound writes:

VOTE FOR ERIC BERRY! HES LOSING – VOTE EVERYDAY IF YOU’RE A TRUE VOL FAN! OUR FANS ARE TERRIBLE FOR NOT EVER VOTING FOR ANYTHING. GET FIRED UP AND GET RECRUITS COMING HERE! Vote for him and spread the word!!! Email this to as much vol fans as possible! I already did!!!
http://promo.espn.go.com/espn/contest...

IF YOU COME TO TENNESSEE YOULL GET IMMEDIATE PLAYING TIME. LOOK AT BRYCE BROWN, MARSELUS TEAGUE, MAIN STARTERS. DAVID OKU, NUKEESE RICKARDSON, AND JANSEN JACKSON ARE ALSO VERY IMPORTANT. Go vols and lets kill each sec team one at a time!!!

SmokeyHound writes:

i was looking at the govolsxtra sec stats and auburn has the number 2 and three running backs the number 1 QB and the number 2 and three wide recievers. all of them are the bets in the SEC. we are gonna get killed. lets go stephens!

SmokeyHound writes:

http://www.govolsxtra.com/photos/gall...

beaslty eric berry/ iwant to see a pick 6 from him. he better get an int for 15 yds returned!

HOMEBOY writes:

Way to hang in there Nick. It has to be tough to never get a chance when Crompton is setting records(record interceptions).

mytrifecta writes:

Crompton improved his QB rating with that stellar performance vs Ohio and is now the 86 ranked QB in D1. This is down from 100 the previous week. Give him a few weeks and he'll be a heisman sleeper. I totally agree with Lane on this one. Why give Stephens a chance in a game situation and risk winning?

rdgshackelford writes:

It doesnt make sense. Crompton isnt going to play well. Stephens isnt an all world QB, and he likely wont be good enough to start next year. However, he is still better than Crompton, and will likely keep us in more games. Bray is already commite

TommyJack writes:

Baffling

rdgshackelford writes:

in response to SmokeyHound:

VOTE FOR ERIC BERRY! HES LOSING – VOTE EVERYDAY IF YOU’RE A TRUE VOL FAN! OUR FANS ARE TERRIBLE FOR NOT EVER VOTING FOR ANYTHING. GET FIRED UP AND GET RECRUITS COMING HERE! Vote for him and spread the word!!! Email this to as much vol fans as possible! I already did!!!
http://promo.espn.go.com/espn/contest...

IF YOU COME TO TENNESSEE YOULL GET IMMEDIATE PLAYING TIME. LOOK AT BRYCE BROWN, MARSELUS TEAGUE, MAIN STARTERS. DAVID OKU, NUKEESE RICKARDSON, AND JANSEN JACKSON ARE ALSO VERY IMPORTANT. Go vols and lets kill each sec team one at a time!!!

Dont question my loyalty to UT. This is a stupid online poll, it means nothing.

NoSirRee writes:

We all saw Stephens play last year. It's not like we have a great qb sitting on the sidelines. Face it, we don't have a qb until we sign one. Until then, just be proud of an OL that can block for a run game when everyone knows its coming.

mlsoft#228820 writes:

I do not understand CLK's insistence on playing JC, while not even giving NS a chance to prove himself. The only thing I can do to make sense of it is that NS has done something, or continues to do something that makes Coach Kiffin angry.

From the very beginning, Crompton has had the benefit of practicing with the first team, while Nick has been saddled with the second string, with nary an opportunity to show that he can do a better job than Crompton. If Crompton was even doing an adequate job as QB, that might be ok, although it would still be somewhat suspect as a coaching philosophy designed to get the Vols playing to the best of their abilities.

Remember that even Coach Kiffin said there was very little to separate the two, and it is apparent that Crompton practices better than he plays in games. Why not at least give Nick a chance to show what he can do??

mlsoft

Hardrocknox writes:

i wonder if the other teams , say what ever you do , don't hurt crompton.

teampenny#658108 writes:

I wonder if Stephens is second guessing staying at UT. All positions has been open for competition except QB. Do not understand this-JC has been Lane's man before spring practice started. If somebody can explain why please do.

RockinTop writes:

in response to SmokeyHound:

i was looking at the govolsxtra sec stats and auburn has the number 2 and three running backs the number 1 QB and the number 2 and three wide recievers. all of them are the bets in the SEC. we are gonna get killed. lets go stephens!

YEP....because you can't beat a team without at a minimum pass threat. We have a ZERO threat!

THIS IS Unbelievable!!

Paragraphs 10 & 11 in the article Kiffin's statements contradict one another. No surprise here Kiffin's been contradicting himself all year. "No one's job is set except Berry's" ....complete BS.

Kiffin will start hurting his recruiting of players with this phooey specifically at QB and Recievers.

Unreal.

go big orange.

volsfan4ever writes:

I don't understand,seriously if I were QB,and I were holding my team back I would pull myself out and let the other guy(stephens)give it a shot!!I guess his ego is too big for that...I think kiffin has done a great job so far with the exception being on staying with crompton..

ealytwc14#459192 writes:

Stephens lost to Wyoming last year and almost to Northern Illinois... I'm sure Kiffin knows what he is doing... atleast we hope!

RockinTop writes:

in response to ealytwc14#459192:

Stephens lost to Wyoming last year and almost to Northern Illinois... I'm sure Kiffin knows what he is doing... atleast we hope!

what rock did you crawl out from under.

ealytwc14#459192 writes:

in response to sweeten_159#646196:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

agree all the way! bray's job already for next year

man_and_dog writes:

I am ready for Nick.

ealytwc14#459192 writes:

in response to RockinTop:

what rock did you crawl out from under.

the same rock that i watched Stephens lose under...

Gator_Hater (Inactive) writes:

in response to teampenny#658108:

I wonder if Stephens is second guessing staying at UT. All positions has been open for competition except QB. Do not understand this-JC has been Lane's man before spring practice started. If somebody can explain why please do.

Back in '94 I was screaming for Branndon Stewart to play over Peyton Manning. Now, I'm not saying Crompton is anything like Manning, but I do remember that Fulmer and Cut said Manning kept getting the nod because he put in a whole lot more work than Stewart did, after practice and in the film room. That could be a possibility with Crompton and Stephens. After all, CLK says he prepares harder than any QB they had at USC, maybe Stephens just doesn't have as much drive as Crompton. Plus, Stephens didn't get to practice much in the spring 'cause of his wrist. Who really knows? Just my thoughts...

volpreacher writes:

in response to MVuniv:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

I never saw UT take a knee at all in this game. Perfect game plan that almost worked. Some of you guys on here are just plain stupid. Kiffin had a plan with what he had to work with. Fulmer left him nothing at qb. So quit being so negative. Some of you probably want to have Kiffin fired. I myself am pleased with the product. Would I rather be 4-0, you betcha, but realistically, no one thought we would be 2-2 and most (including myself) thought we would be no better than 3-1 at this point. At least we are competitive. That's something I didn't see last year. I am as big a fan as anyone, but I completely stopped watching last year, I was so embarrassed. This team wasn't destroyed in one year and it won't be rebuilt in one year. Go Vols. Beat Auburn.

RaineyVol writes:

This is almost getting to a point where it is not a hard decision to start Stephens, Crompton is not going to do good the rest of the year.. not going to happen!!!

rockytopatl writes:

Thanks for finally pointing out in print that QB is the only position other than Berry's that isn't open. Competition, said Kiffin, is what we are all about. Except at quarterback, where I'm going to let my guy play no matter how many picks he throws, no matter how many open receivers he misses, no matter how many times he throws into double coverage. Simply put, JC can do no wrong, and NS can do no right.

This isn't right.

GahLee writes:

in response to ealytwc14#459192:

Stephens lost to Wyoming last year and almost to Northern Illinois... I'm sure Kiffin knows what he is doing... atleast we hope!

Seems like everyone forgets this...he got his chance against the worst teams we played last year, and was every bit as bad as Crompton...as I have always maintained the most popular guy on a bad team is always the back-up QB...he doesn't start because he isn't better...period.

mytrifecta writes:

in response to MVuniv:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Hey there Meat, go to dictionary.com and find the meaning to the word "sarcasm". Then come back and read my post again. Crompton is horrible and the fact that our coaching staff isn't giving Stephens an opportunity during a game is beyond baffling. I support Kiffin and crew in nearly all they do. But this decision to keep riding Crompton is not only raising the blood pressure of the fan base...it's going to divide the team. The play vs Ohio where Cromption rolls right and the rest of the team went left really told the story of this offense under his leadership.

vol_chaz writes:

I hope the best for this young man. Keep your head up Nick. Everybody knows we OWN the month of November, we gotta make it through these next 3 games...

ealytwc14#459192 writes:

What did Stephens do to amaze all of you and want him over Crompton? I recall Stephens getting benched last year too after the switch from Crompton to him... TN does NOT have a qb... Just face it!!! AND NO MATTER HOW MANY TIMES YOU ALL POST ON HERE... KIFFIN IS NOT GOING CHANGE! AND IF HE DOES IT WASNT'T BECAUSE HE READ IT ON A MESSAGE BOARD TO DO SO!

Orangeblood13 writes:

next question

mytrifecta writes:

in response to MVuniv:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Hey there Meat, go to dictionary.com and find the meaning to the word "sarcasm". Then come back and read my post again. Crompton is horrible and the fact that our coaching staff isn't giving Stephens an opportunity during a game is beyond baffling. I support Kiffin and crew in nearly all they do. But this decision to keep riding Crompton is not only raising the blood pressure of the fan base...it's going to divide the team. The play vs Ohio where Cromption rolled right and the rest of the team went left really told the story of this offense under his leadership.

GahLee writes:

Turning a true freshmen loose in the SEC with no O-Line...that will get ugly, Stephens will start next year...no way Bray has the offense down by fall...no way.

GahLee writes:

in response to Bob4Vols:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

When you move out of your mom's basement.

When we start winning games and get back to prominence, don't want to see you on this site fair-weathering it up...just sit back and be a grumpy Fulmer supporter and talk about the old days when we had all the talent in the world and seemingly always came up short.

jbc writes:

in response to ealytwc14#459192:

Stephens lost to Wyoming last year and almost to Northern Illinois... I'm sure Kiffin knows what he is doing... atleast we hope!

So Crompton has thrown 13 interceptions in 12 games thru 2008-2009.

In one game against Vandy he threw one pass, an interception.

Stephens has thrown 3 interceptions in 8 games. He did throw 2 against Wyoming. However Crompton played by far most of the game.

So basically Stephens had one game where he played like Crompton and got sent to the Gulag. Crompton has 13 of them and is the "obvious" starter.

I don't hate Crompton, I just don't think Stephens is being given a fair shake. Which should happen everywhere, football, and anywhere else in life.

GahLee writes:

in response to vol1:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Or do you realize that you couldn't beat out that "lousy QB" in the spring( I know the wrist ) or the fall?

I have nothing against Nick, I cheer for them all, but you and others like you, think this guy is far superior. I didn't see anything last year and the coaches obviously didn't see anything this year to say different.

None of us really know, I guess it's the possibility that he may play better that drives you guys to act the way you do, maybe he would. Or maybe he would play just like he did last year.

My guess is we won't find out this year.

chestnutglade writes:

Looks like this season is going to be longer than last year.I was ready for a change as head coach but not giving a man a chance to show you how good of a QB is just not right.Keep your head up.I hope you get a chance.

mytrifecta writes:

in response to ealytwc14#459192:

What did Stephens do to amaze all of you and want him over Crompton? I recall Stephens getting benched last year too after the switch from Crompton to him... TN does NOT have a qb... Just face it!!! AND NO MATTER HOW MANY TIMES YOU ALL POST ON HERE... KIFFIN IS NOT GOING CHANGE! AND IF HE DOES IT WASNT'T BECAUSE HE READ IT ON A MESSAGE BOARD TO DO SO!

Easy Tiger, maybe you should take up knitting or some other hobby that doesn't get you so worked up. Last year was...well, last year...let it go. The question on most peoples mind is what could Nick do this year in a new offense with different players and coaches? Because he's not been given a chance no one knows. I support our coaching staff and have faith they will get us back to prominence. However, this decision to stay with Crompton at all cost simply doesn't make sense.

davethevol writes:

Sure, Crompton is struggling at times, but he must be the best option to win games. 2 different head coaches share(d) that opinion. If Stephens were better then he would be in the game. Lane Kiffin has stated numerous times that he was hired to win. I believe him when he says that. Unlike Fulmer, you can tell he is frustrated with lackluster performance. Even when he is winning he still yells at the players when they screw up. Fulmer never did that.

watchdog writes:

in response to MVuniv:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

I'm always curious when I see this "taking a knee" idea thrown out there by some dimwitted Gators fan (disclaimer: we do have some respectable Gators fans on here. Telling who's who is an exercise left to the reader). First of all, if you look at a play by play, right around 6:30 left, Tebow was busy getting sacked by Chris Walker.

You're probably not talking about the TN drive before that particular Florida three and out - that one was a touchdown for the Vols. You must be talking about Kiffin failing to ask Crompton to air it out repeatedly, with 6 minutes left, after the previous TD drive that took us 63 yards in 3 1/2 minutes.

You may as well rephrase your question to "How do you explain Kiffin calling plays that played to the Vols' strengths, instead of to Florida's?" Except, oh wait, that question answers itself.

Look, no one here's going to suggest Crompton's a world-beater. Coaches are going to call the plays that put Tennessee in the best position to win. This year, that's probably not going to mean a vertical passing game.

That's why I love hearing Meyer asking whether Tennessee was trying to win. What's he expecting, Kiffin to come back with "yeah you're right, let me just throw my starting QB under the bus and talk about the limitations in our passing game"? Meyer must be as dumb as some of our Gators posters.

tngivem6 writes:

hmmmmmm

ealytwc14#459192 writes:

in response to mytrifecta:

Easy Tiger, maybe you should take up knitting or some other hobby that doesn't get you so worked up. Last year was...well, last year...let it go. The question on most peoples mind is what could Nick do this year in a new offense with different players and coaches? Because he's not been given a chance no one knows. I support our coaching staff and have faith they will get us back to prominence. However, this decision to stay with Crompton at all cost simply doesn't make sense.

He probably hasnt been given a chance because the coaching staff that you say you support and have faith in must not have faith and support in him??? Maybe you should check your support and faith before making a statement... thanks!

huckle309#634494 writes:

in response to Bob4Vols:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Did Kiffin take your lunch money or something? I have never seen so many negative posts against someone. Remember, Kiffin didn't get Fulmer fired, Fulmer got Fulmer fired.

Cldvols1 writes:

As much as I want to plead at going with a different option at QB I trust this coaching staff. They see the players everyday and believe JC still has something to prove. To me he does and he better cuz like everybody else I'm getting sick and tired of watching him make mistake after mistake while still starting for the University of Tennessee! Better man up JC or this may be a season you wish you could soon forget. Go Vols!

GahLee writes:

in response to SmokeyHound:

i was looking at the govolsxtra sec stats and auburn has the number 2 and three running backs the number 1 QB and the number 2 and three wide recievers. all of them are the bets in the SEC. we are gonna get killed. lets go stephens!

Auburn has played nobody...West Virginia, and they are decent at best...they beat Ball State, who is 0-4. They beat La Tech, and Miss. St.

Not saying they don't have a good team but they aren't going to kill us by no means.

teufel_hunden writes:

in response to jbc:

So Crompton has thrown 13 interceptions in 12 games thru 2008-2009.

In one game against Vandy he threw one pass, an interception.

Stephens has thrown 3 interceptions in 8 games. He did throw 2 against Wyoming. However Crompton played by far most of the game.

So basically Stephens had one game where he played like Crompton and got sent to the Gulag. Crompton has 13 of them and is the "obvious" starter.

I don't hate Crompton, I just don't think Stephens is being given a fair shake. Which should happen everywhere, football, and anywhere else in life.

But just like in life the peter principle is in effect. Basically saying phooey rises to the top.

eefor10c writes:

Looks like Coleman was the smartest of the three quarterbacks. He saw early that there wasn't going to be a chance for anyone but Crompton. According to Kiffin there wasn't much difference between Crompton and Stevens, so just how much more ineffective could Stevens be?

tennezz writes:

I don`t know who the best quarterback is. I do remember Stevens throwing three interceptions in one game before he was benched. I guess we have to trust the coaches. I do remember Fulmer saying he had a bad temper and tried to force the ball through tight coverage when he got angry.

bippy58 writes:

went to practice in the spring they were rotating three qb's and crompton performed the worst of the three. he completed one pass out of six and the other two were six for six. so he did not do better in practice so i don't get it. but if you wanted a coach that will stand behind his qb no matter what this would be the place. kiffin is trying to prove a point and maybe some day we will understand what that point is.

RoadTrip writes:

in response to jbc:

So Crompton has thrown 13 interceptions in 12 games thru 2008-2009.

In one game against Vandy he threw one pass, an interception.

Stephens has thrown 3 interceptions in 8 games. He did throw 2 against Wyoming. However Crompton played by far most of the game.

So basically Stephens had one game where he played like Crompton and got sent to the Gulag. Crompton has 13 of them and is the "obvious" starter.

I don't hate Crompton, I just don't think Stephens is being given a fair shake. Which should happen everywhere, football, and anywhere else in life.

Thanks for the intelligent post. I agree. We obviously are not privy to something personal they hold against Stephens, these coaches are not stupid. They surely see that JC is the worst QB in the SEC even if they have not been around to know that he is the worst we've had in decades. So it has to be something else.

Makes me wonder why they sacrifice the rest of the team and the fan base over it. Surely they know that is a dangerous path to tread with the Vol faithful. Moving vans and Bill Battle come to mind.

movol77 writes:

in response to SmokeyHound:

i was looking at the govolsxtra sec stats and auburn has the number 2 and three running backs the number 1 QB and the number 2 and three wide recievers. all of them are the bets in the SEC. we are gonna get killed. lets go stephens!

Slow down Smokey. Let's remember that Auburn is 4-0 against a 5-9 collective opponent thus far this season.

1Big_Orange_Fan writes:

Kiff is gonna lose his players. EVERYONE with the exception of a few on this site can clearly see that NO ONE, me included, could possibly play worse than JC has. I thought NS played much better than JC last year and got yanked after showing some cromptonesque qualities for a couple of quarters. He sure did make Denarius Moore look good last year.

UTVOLSFAN4LIFE writes:

in response to sweeten_159#646196:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

It would not any matter whether Stephens was put in or not on who will start next year. If it is this hard to pick Stephens over Crompton with the numbers Crompton has delivered the freshman QB will just need a pulse to win the position.

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