Vol QB race 'open'

Tennessee head coach Phillip Fulmer said Sunday that competition for the starting quarterback position is open.

The Vols are coming off a 14-12 loss at Auburn in which they completed 8-of-24 passes for 67 yards and fell to 1-3 overall, 0-2 in the Southeastern Conference.

"We are disappointed in the loss," Fulmer said after Sunday night's brief workout inside the Neyland-Thompson Sports Center. "Watching the tape, our guys laid it on the line and gave great effort. We just couldn't find a way to get 10-20 yards closer to kick a field goal.

"Daniel (Lincoln) was kicking the ball well and I'm just certain if we'd gotten it down there we would have had a chance to win that thing at the end."

The eight completions were the fewest by the Vols since completing eight in the 2004 SEC Championship Game against Auburn, and the 67 passing yards were the fewest since UT threw for only 64 in a 20-17 overtime win against Florida in 1998.

In addition, Tennessee gained only 191 total offensive yards for the program's lowest output since tallying 170 in a 10-6 win at Miami in 2003.

Fulmer said Jonathan Crompton is responding well to the renewed competition.

"The only way I know for sure is what they do on the practice field. He came out tonight, did just fine and operated very well. We've just got to be a lot better than 8-for-24 (as a team).

"We expect Nick (Stephens) to compete and he did fine. Both of them have their strengths and both of them need to use those strengths and minimize their weaknesses everywhere they can."

Tennessee hosts Northern Illinois (2-2) this Saturday at Neyland Stadium. Kickoff is 7 p.m., with the Vol Network carrying the radio broadcast and VideoSeat providing the pay-per-view telecast.

"There's a lot of good football left to be played and certainly a good season yet to be had," Fulmer said. "If tonight's practice, and especially the two-minute drill, was any example of their concentration and focus, we'll be just fine. They got after it pretty good tonight."

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