Fulmer discusses QB battle

Tennessee head coach Phillip Fulmer said Wednesday that no decision has been made and no time table established for announcing the starting quarterback for this weekend's game against Northern Illinois.

"Obviously, we've got problems that we're trying to fix in a couple of different spots," Fulmer said. "We're particularly trying to evaluate the quarterbacks and make a good decision from that standpoint. We're not quite there yet, but we're making strides that way."

Junior Jonathan Crompton and sophomore Nick Stephens are sharing the reps as first-string quarterback this week. Crompton has started the season's first four games.

"Both of them are competing and we're doing some things with Gerald (Jones)," Fulmer said. "Both of them are really working. But we've been a good practice team; it's what we've done in the game that counts and we've got to make that carry over.

"We're certainly not going to give up on anybody, regardless of what happens."

Fulmer said he has been impressed these last two days with the defensive tempo that has carried over from last weekend's fine performance at Auburn. Tennessee limited the Tigers to just 226 yards of total offense in a 14-12 loss.

"I really like the way those young ends (Ben Martin and Chris Walker) are playing, I really like the way Gerald Williams is playing. Those guys are making some significant progress. And LaMarcus Thompson in the absence of Ellix (Wilson) - Ellix not being 100 percent this week; I do think he will be available for the game - has shown some progress. And Daryl Vereen moved to linebacker. He came back and looks like a very fast linebacker rather than a limited safety.

"Building that depth is really good."

Also returning to practice this week has been junior tight end Jeff Cottam (back), who Fulmer expects to see at least limited work in Saturday's game.

The Vols host Northern Illinois in a 7 p.m. Eastern time kickoff at Neyland Stadium.


Saturday's Tennessee-Northern Illinois game is being televised on a pay-per-view basis across the state of Tennessee. Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. Eastern time (6 p.m. Central).

The announcing team for the game telecast will be Randy Smith (play-by-play) and former Vol and NFL quarterback Pat Ryan (color analysis).

Cable systems across the state of Tennessee are scheduled to carry the telecast from the VideoSeat pay-per-view service. The game also is being made available as a pay-per-view event to Tennessee Dish Network subscribers and DirecTV subscribers. Channel numbers and ordering information for home dish owners will be forthcoming next week.

ESPN GamePlan is expected to offer the contest to fans living outside the state of Tennessee via the ESPN GamePlan package. The game will be blacked out on ESPN GamePlan in the state of Tennessee and cannot be ordered as part of ESPN's package.

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