Crompton's cruising

He struggled on Wednesday, starred on Thursday, struggled on Friday and starred on Saturday. That's why one Tennessee football player is low-key about his dazzling performance in the first full-scale scrimmage.

"Things happen, especially at the quarterback position; it's a roller-coaster ride," senior quarterback Jonathan Crompton said after completing 10 of 13 passes for 164 yards Saturday at Neyland Stadium. "It's all a matter of how you react."

Crompton came out smoking to start the scrimmage. He completed passes of 14, 21 and 20 yards in directing a five-play, 70-yard touchdown drive on his first possession. His fourth pass was a perfectly thrown 68-yard hookup with Gerald Jones that really got the Vols' offensive players excited.

"That gives the whole team a boost, getting to the 2-yard line after one play," Crompton noted. "That's always a big boost, especially for the O-line. It gives them motivation to go ahead and punch it in and get off the field."

Crompton completed one more pass before halftime, finishing the first segment of the scrimmage 5 of 5 for 124 yards. It's hard to improve on those numbers.

"Everything felt in rhythm," he said. "The run game was helping and the O-line was blocking their butts off. If they don't block really good and the run game's not good, then I can't be successful."

The run game consisted mainly of sophomore Tauren Poole, who rushed eight times for 141 yards, with touchdown bursts of 70 and 44 yards.

"He's a really good back," Crompton noted. "He's got good vision, he's quick and he knows what he's doing. He knows the offense now, and he's going to be a real big help for us."

Tennessee's rushing attack was weak last fall, averaging just 3.6 yards per carry and 122.9 yards per game. That put a lot of pressure on the passing attack to carry the offense. A stronger ground game in 2009 should help the air attack considerably.

"A good run game helps the passing game and a good passing game helps the run game," Crompton said. "In this offense you've got to have both working together to be successful. I think today we did a good job of that."

Although he and No. 2 quarterback Nick Stephens directed three touchdown drives each on Saturday, Crompton isn't ready to pronounce Tennessee an offensive juggernaut just yet.

"It feels like we got a little better but we didn't throw everything out there today and the defense didn't use there they've put in," he said. "Next scrimmage we'll throw a little more in and go from there."

Although the Vols' early success on offense seemed to elevate their energy and confidence levels, Crompton thought both were pretty high coming into the scrimmage.

"Everybody was real hyped to get out here," he said. "It was the first scrimmage of the fall. I think we're 28 days from the first game, so everybody's looking forward to it, getting motivated. We consider this our first preseason game."

For a preseason game, the offense looked to be in midseason form.

As Crompton noted: "We wanted to execute, move the ball, come out feeling pretty good and know that we got a little better."

Mission accomplished.


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