Quality at QB

Quality quarterbacks don't panic when things go poorly in the beginning.

Tennessee's Jonathan Crompton showed he is becoming a quality quarterback in Thursday's final full-scale scrimmage of the preseason. After repeatedly missing his targets en route to a 3-of-12 start, he found his rhythm and completed nine of his last 11 throws to finish 12 of 23 for 151 yards and two touchdowns.

When asked about the big finish after his slow start, Crompton smiled and shrugged.

"It's just playing ball," he said. "Once you get into the swing of things, then it's just natural."

Tennessee is an offense in transition this fall – adjusting to a new scheme (West Coast), to a new coordinator (Dave Clawson) and to a new quarterback (Crompton). As a result, the Vols have been wildly inconsistent at times.

"We need to get better at every aspect of the game," said Crompton, a 6-4, 240-pound junior from Waynesville, N.C. "That's just part of it. Nothing's ever perfect, so it keeps you coming back for more. We're trying to do all of the little things right and get better."

After hitting Gerald Jones with an 18-yard scoring strike on his second throw of the scrimmage, Crompton struggled a bit. Following three consecutive incompletions, he found tight end Luke Stocker for a gain of 26 and Jones for a pickup of 15. He then threw five incompletions in succession to stand 3 of 12 for 59 yards.

Once Crompton found his rhythm, however, he was near perfect.

First, he hit Austin Rogers for 10 yards. After a throwaway under pressure, he hit Tauren Poole and Jones for consecutive 11-yard gains. Crompton eventually finished off a 67-yard scoring drive by hitting Quintin Hancock for 15 yards and Lennon Creer for 13 and the TD.

Moments later, in an overtime drill starting at the defense's 25-yard line, Crompton sliced up the second-team defense, hitting Lucas Taylor for 11 yards, then finding him again with a 14-yard TD strike.

Crompton connected on his last three throws, as well, to finish 12 of 23. Then, after dissecting the defense, he dissected the offensive performance.

"We made some plays here and there but we had a few minor mistakes that can lose ball games for you," he said. "We'll correct what we messed up on today and go from there."

Tennessee's offense has come a long way since the first full-scale scrimmage back on Aug. 9. Crompton sees signs that the attack unit is jelling.

"Everybody's upbeat," he said. "Everybody's confident about the offense. Everybody knows we're going to be OK. We're going to go out there, play ball and have fun winning games."


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