Quality quarterbacks do not suffer a meltdown in hot water. In fact, the tougher the circumstances, the more they rise to the occasion. That makes today's full-scale scrimmage a big one for Tennessee's Jonathan Crompton.
The 6-4, 220-pound junior is one week removed from a scrimmage which saw him throw three interceptions. His intended receiver slipped on two of them but the picks still show up on Crompton's stat line, not the receivers'.
How Crompton responds today will reveal a lot about his nature. Will he trust his skills and make the throws he needs to make, whether they're easy throws or hard throws? Or will he be tentative – attempting only low-risk passes that will result in modest gains but will be harder to intercept?
Making today even more crucial is the fact Crompton and the other QBs will not be wearing green (no-contact) jerseys. That means they will have a chance to be slammed to the turf, just like anyone else. It also means they will have a chance to show their poise and footwork in escaping the rush.
With Crompton coming off a three-interception scrimmage and the green shirt coming off, as well, today's scrimmage promises to be the most important of the spring for the Volunteers. Next weekend's Orange & White game will be somewhat anti-climactic. Because opposing scouts will be in the stands and the game will be televised, UT coaches won't tax their first-teamers or utilize much of the playbook in the spring game. In addition, the green shirts will be back on. Put it all together, and today's scrimmage will be more meaningful for Crompton & Company than the O&W showcase.
Head coach Phillip Fulmer was concerned that Crompton threw three interceptions last weekend but was pleased with the rest of the junior quarterback's effort.
"Jonathan had good command of the scrimmage, the clock and the huddle," Fulmer said. "A couple of those (interceptions) weren't necessarily his fault; a receiver slipped down.
"But a couple of 'em he forced. We can't force footballs. We can't let the defense get their hands on the ball."
"The other two quarterbacks are just learning," Fulmer said. "They're kind of a work in progress right now."
Sort of like a tea bag that hasn't been in hot water yet.