Crompton did OK

Mere moments after Saturday night's 31-14 loss to Arkansas, Tennessee head coach Phillip Fulmer described his quarterback's play as "just OK." Upon further review, though, the coach is more encouraged.

Making his first career start, redshirt freshman Jonathan Crompton completed 16 of 34 passes for 174 yards, with two touchdowns and one interception. He had at least three catchable balls dropped and did not get the air-tight pass protection usually afforded Tennessee quarterbacks.

"I thought Jon Crompton played very well in the game considering his youthfulness," Fulmer said on his Sunday evening teleconference. "Our third-down percentage wasn't nearly what it needed to be. That's not all his fault but some of it was.

"He played solid, took care of the ball and saw the field really well."

Oddly enough, Fulmer seemed even happier with something Crompton DID NOT do. Specifically, he didn't throw balls into double coverage.

"Actually, he didn't make a couple of throws a younger quarterback might've made that would've been intercepted," Fulmer said. "He got himself out of trouble (by moving in the pocket) a couple of times. He competed."

Although he did not look as sharp as he did after relieving injured starter Erik Ainge in the second quarter of the LSU game, Crompton performed well enough to keep his coaches upbeat about his future.

"He's a good young prospect," Fulmer said. "We're really pleased with the way he played. He'd like to have a couple of throws back but the ball he stuck in there to Meachem (a 27-yard TD strike to Robert Meachem) was a great throw. We've just got to help him more."

By "help him more," the coach meant getting better production from the run game and better protection from the offensive line. The ground game netted a so-so 92 yards. Meanwhile, the blockers allowed Crompton to be sacked three times and pressured much of the evening.

"We didn't do as well in slide protection as we usually do," Fulmer noted.

Though still bothered by an ankle injury, Ainge warmed up once during Saturday night's game but never took the field. His status for this weekend's game at Vanderbilt is unknown.

"We'll have to see," Fulmer said. "I'm hopeful he'll be able to practice this week."

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