Not A Night To Remember
Mere minutes after struggling Saturday night in his first career start at quarterback for Tennessee, a 31-14 Arkansas victory, Jonathan Crompton refused to find excuses. Through three quarters, Crompton passed for just 84 yards and completed only nine of his 19 passes. Crompton could've found fault with others. He justifiably could've talked about the dropped passes and stopped routes by his wide receivers. But he pointed the finger at himself. "I don't think I prepared myself mentally as much as I should have," Crompton said. "I've got to watch as much film as possible, get mentally prepared and go into practice and make it like a game every day. I didn't do that." Tennessee coach Philip Fulmer found solace in that attitude Saturday night in Reynolds Razorback Stadium after his Volunteers were on the wrong end of a start-to-finish whipping. The tone of his voice revealed that this wasn't the type of setting Fulmer would've knowingly chosen for a redshirt freshman's first start. Most coaches prefer a home game against an opponent that preferably contains some kind of direction in its name. Arkansas' Mitch Mustain got Utah State at home and in September. Crompton got the No. 11 team in the nation on the road and in front of Arkansas' largest crowd in school history, with a national TV audience and the likes of Fowler, Corso and Herbstreit analyzing his every move. Not the ideal situation, but junior starter Erik Ainge's high ankle sprain didn't heal up for Saturday's Southeastern Conference showdown. Crompton said he handled the raucous environment as well as he could. "I was expecting it to be loud and hostile like it was," Crompton said. "I just had to go out there and try to be poised as much as possible. "I don't think it affected me as much as I thought it would." His performance didn't reflect that thinking, though. Arkansas' defense registered four sacks, 3 1/2 by Jamaal Anderson. "Most of those sacks were my fault," Crompton said. "But I had enough time to get the ball off. Most of the times I got hit, it was my fault. You have a minimum amount of time to get the ball off, and I didn't get it done." Crompton admitted the coverage played by Arkansas' secondary befuddled him early on, hampering his efforts to get the offense moving and silence the crowd. Tennessee went three-and-out on its first two series, and Crompton had a tough time connecting with his receivers all evening. He did connect with Robert Meachem for a 27-yard touchdown pass in the second quarter. And he did tack on a 39-yard touchdown pass to Bret Smith with 30 seconds left. But other than those two completions, success was hard to attain. "It's not all on Jonathan," Fulmer said. "He's a good prospect. He's just young. This is a tough place to play."
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