Fast out of the gate

One Tennessee quarterback resembles one of those racehorses that always seems to grab the lead by the first turn. He doesn't always finish well, but he's something to behold out of the starting gate.

The QB in question would be first-teamer Jonathan Crompton. Unofficially, the 6-4, 228-pound senior completed 5 of 5 passes for 124 yards in the first half of Scrimmage No. 1 last weekend. He cooled a bit after the intermission, going 5 of 8 for 40 yards.

Crompton got off to another blazing start yesterday in Scrimmage No. 2. Unofficially, his first-half numbers were sensational (10 of 12, 93 yards); his second-half numbers (6 of 11, 65 yards) were not quite as imposing.

Combining his first-half numbers for the two scrimmages shows him connecting on 15 of 17 passes for 217 yards. Obviously, this guy is pumped up at the start of game-type workouts.

"Yeah, it's really fun coming into the stadium, getting that atmosphere," Crompton said. "It's totally different than being on the practice field, but in a good way. It's fun. We're coming out here and competing. We're trying to make it a game-like atmosphere, and that's what it does ... it brings out the best in you."

Apparently spurred by his performance in Scrimmage No. 1, Crompton played some of his best football at UT during the past week. When asked if he feels he is building on his recent performances, however, he shook his head.

"We're just trying to get better as a whole," he said. "Nobody's really focused on their individual self. Everybody's just trying to make themselves better, which makes the team better. That's our team mentality."

Crompton took awhile to get comfortable in Tennessee's new pro-style system but that's understandable: He's learning his fifth scheme in five years under his fourth coordinator in five years. He studied under Randy Sanders while redshirting as a freshman in 2005. He learned David Cutcliffe's system in 2006, then had to adjust when Cutcliffe went with a no-huddle attack in '07. Crompton had to start over with Dave Clawson's West Coast Offense last fall and now finds himself learning a whole new scheme under Jim Chaney.

Based on his recent practice and scrimmage performances, though, Crompton is developing a good grasp of the 2009 attack scheme.

"I feel pretty comfortable in the offense," he said, "and the coaches are doing a really good job of putting us in position to be successful."

Especially, it seems, in the first half of intrasquad scrimmages.


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