published Tuesday, September 22nd, 2009

It's still Crompton

Kiffin hints at other offensive changes

by Wes Rucker

KNOXVILLE -- Lane Kiffin said Monday the University of Tennessee offense could make several significant changes this week, following deficient performances against UCLA and Florida.

A quarterback move didn't seem a priority, though.

Kiffin reiterated after Monday's practice that the Volunteers simply need to play better around senior quarterback Jonathan Crompton, who completed 24 of 55 passes the past two games for 186 yards, zero touchdowns and five interceptions.

"Without getting too specific about it, we need to play better," Kiffin said. "We're not pleased with where our performance is. Our defense played well enough to beat the No. 1 team in the country, and we didn't play well enough on offense to do it. We're going to open up some competitions, and we're going to move some guys around, and we're going to figure out how to get this thing better.

"This will be a big week for a lot of guys on the offensive line, the receiver group, special teams. We need to get better. We need to improve this week."

Asked specifically about Crompton, Kiffin replied in a noticeably kinder tone.

"Jonathan needs to have a very good game this week, and we need to do a good job around him," Kiffin said.

Kiffin said Crompton played "better" at Florida than he did against UCLA. The quarterback threw for exactly 93 yards each game, but he decreased his interceptions from three against the Bruins to two against the Gators.

Crompton and backup Nick Stephens weren't made available to reporters Monday night, but Crompton said Saturday that he saw improvements in the passing game in the Swamp.

"Obviously, you don't want to lose," he said then. "I don't care if it's by 1 or 100, you don't want to lose. If you're a competitor, you hate losing more than you like winning. But obviously, you've got to look at the positives. We had chances to capitalize early and late.

"We know we can be a good team. We're in our third game under this coaching staff, and we just played with the No. 1 team in the country. They've been here for four or five years, playing under the same system, and we played right with them."

At least one change up front will come from necessity. Senior left guard Vlad Richard, who already had a sore Achilles' tendon, injured a knee at Florida and has been ruled out for Saturday's 7 p.m. game against Ohio.

Kiffin said junior Jarrod Shaw will start at left guard, and redshirt freshman Aaron Douglas will start in Shaw's vacated right tackle position.

Douglas played just eight snaps at Florida but played more in the first two games and nearly beat Shaw for the right tackle spot in preseason camp.

"I have my assignments down for the most part," said Douglas, a 6-foot-6, 285-pounder who played tight end until spring practice. "I just have to work out some techniques things here and there, but I feel really good. I feel comfortable down there now.

"I'm definitely excited about the opportunity. I just need to stay focused this week and keep improving in practice, and hopefully that will help me go out there and show what I can do."

Kiffin has admittedly been less than thrilled with the Vols' wide receivers. He hopes to see fewer mistakes when the wideouts get more involved with the offense.

"Like the game before, (Florida) got into a game where we needed to pound the ball," Kiffin said. "It wasn't as important to maybe have guys out there that were going to make big plays in the red zone.

"We've opened up the competition there (at receiver) as well. We need to be more productive out there, which we will when we give them more chances, too. We didn't them very many opportunities."

  • photo
    File Staff Photo by Patrick Smith Tennessee senior quarterback Jonathan Crompton calls a play during the game against Western Kentucky at Neyland Stadium.

Crompton didn't seem out of character during Monday night's brief practice. He joked with teammates before and after plays and kept his focus as usual.

UT's senior quarterback wasn't allowed to speak with the media during preparations for the Florida game, but he kept his composure throughout a series of tough questions the past two Saturdays.

Crompton said he will prepare "the same exact way" all season, regardless of the team's record or his place on the depth chart. His public persona has rarely changed since he arrived in Knoxville five years ago.

"I've had to face adversity my whole life," Crompton said after the Florida loss. "It's just part of it. I'm never pleased with having to face it, but things happen.

"But right now, our focus is just on trying to get better as a team going into next week."

about Wes Rucker...

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Livn4life said...

My hat is off to the Volunteers for how things played out in the Swamp. I also admire how Jon Crompton maintains his composure amid a lot of adversity. My deal comes in the following question. If he continues on the line of the past two games against better opponents, when will we get a look at Stephens? At some point, merely needing to throw will necessitate more than we have been able to do with Crompton. This in no way demeans him or his ability as an athtlete. I am a Go Vols man all the way and hope we can see the full potential of this team on both sides of the ball realized soon.

September 22, 2009 at 2:26 p.m.
tndriver said...

Why change Crompton isn't the biggest problem, Fulmer's rejects can't block, run the right routes, or catch it when they do. Look Stephens lost the job to Crompton for a reason, it is obvious he is not as good as Crompton to began with. If your going to make a change the only one that make any sense to me would be to Give Liamiason a shoot. We already know Nick Stephens throws 3 to 4 bad passes for every good one He throws. With deficient talent this season is a waste any way might as well Give Liamiason (sorry but don't know how to spell his name) a Head Start in winning the job for next season.

September 22, 2009 at 6:19 p.m.
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