Going all the way

Tennessee's starting quarterback can keep his focus on the developments in front of him Saturday afternoon. There's no need to look over his shoulder.

After splitting time with Nick Stephens in 2008 - to the apparent detriment of both - Jonathan Crompton has been handed the reins of the 2009 offense. Barring injury or blowout, he'll keep those reins throughout Game 1 vs. Western Kentucky.

"We would never rotate quarterbacks," head coach Lane Kiffin said this week. "We will play Jonathan, go with him.... In the normal circumstance - with the game being close - we're not going to switch to Nick."

Crompton struggled mightily in 2008 but looked good in preseason workouts this year. Kiffin believes the momentum the senior QB built during August scrimmages will carry over into September games.

"We're excited to see him play in this offense," the head man said. "With three true freshmen out of the five receivers that will play, there could be some timing issues a little bit, but we're excited to see him play in this offense with these guys."

Told of Kiffin's comments, Crompton smiled.

"It's good when you feel that confidence from the coach," he said. "It always helps."

Kiffin says Crompton earned that confidence by elevating his play between spring practice and the end of fall camp.

"His taking care of the ball and his decision-making continue to improve," the coach said.

Although he is learning his fifth offense in five years at UT, Crompton's knowledge of the new scheme is outstanding. Kiffin said this knowledge is invaluable whenever a coach uses the wrong terminology while relaying a play call to Crompton in the huddle.

"A lot of guys wouldn't catch it; he catches it every time," the coach said. "For him to know what we want and change to it - get us in the right play - is very critical for us."


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