"There will be times this year when the defensive end may beat us on a pass-rush move or there might be a linebacker we don't pick up on the blitz," Vol offensive coordinator Dave Clawson notes. "You've got to make that guy miss to make it a productive play. That's the thing I think Jonathan can bring to the table – the ability to take a bad play and make it a positive."
Crompton, a 6-4, 240-pound junior, is nimble enough to elude 300-pound defensive tackles and powerful enough to run over 180-pound cornerbacks. He provides a running threat that predecessors Casey Clausen and Erik Ainge did not. Still, Crompton will run more by necessity than by design in 2008.
"We don't plan on having him run the ball 40 times a game," Clawson says. "But to have a guy back there who's physical, can take a hit and has some athletic ability certainly gives you some flexibility in play-calling as another option. We're not going to base our offense around it but we know it's something we can do."
Ultimately, every play would produce a big gain if executed exactly as it's drawn up. The problem is, no play is executed that efficiently. Most plays break down at one point or another. That's why the guy who can make something out of nothing is the greatest weapon in football.
"It's more important to have the athleticism to make plays outside the design of the play," Clawson says. "If you're a good player and the play is blocked perfectly you get three more yards. If you're a great player, you take a play that should be a negative-yardage play and make it a positive-yardage play. Or you take an eight-yard play and make it an 18-yard play."
Only time will tell, but the new coordinator believes Crompton has enough athleticism to turn negative plays into positive plays, to turn small gains into big gains.
"That's what great players do," Clawson says. "I remember watching Randy Moss in college. There were times people were playing cover 2 and doubling him, and it didn't matter. He was running by 'em or running over 'em."
The first-year assistant isn't suggesting that Crompton is capable of making Moss-type plays. But the young quarterback appears capable of making defensive coordinators wince, even when their troops do everything right.
"When you make the right play at the right time, and the other player overcomes the call because of his ability, that's tough," Clawson notes. "That's the thing I'm hoping he brings to the table."