Nothing to lose

If Tennessee's quarterback earns a game ball by guiding a smashing victory in today's season opener vs. Western Kentucky, he might want to give it to his dad.

After being booed by his own fans and even having his life threatened (via email) last fall, Jonathan Crompton got a little fatherly advice from David Crompton shortly after the nightmarish 2008 season ended.

The Vol senior smiles as he recalls the incident:

"It was really good sitting down with my dad after the season and saying, 'Hey, just let it all hang loose. What do I have to lose? Nothing.'

"I'm just going out here and playing ball. It's still just a game. It's a little higher level but it's still the game of football and that's the game I chose as a little kid that I wanted to play. I love it and I'm passionate about it.

"I felt really good after that conversation."

Crompton felt even better after meeting Tennessee's new offensive coaches and getting acquainted with the new offensive scheme.

"I feel comfortable in the offense," he said, adding that it features "a better mental approach" than the one he struggled with last fall, completing just 51.5 percent of his passes with more interceptions (5) than touchdowns (4).

"This offense is very quarterback-friendly," Crompton added. "You don't have to really think a whole lot. You just play, and that's the thing I really like. Once the ball's snapped, you just go from there, and that's really fun."

Even coming off a bitterly disappointing 2008 performance, Crompton has a snap in his step and a smile on his face these days. Clearly, his confidence level is high. Asked how that happened, he shrugged.

"I have no clue," he said. "It's kind of funny. It's just like it clicked and something happened and, instantly, I went back to my old self. It's been fun ever since that happened."

Crompton noted that there has been a "huge difference" in him since that magic moment his confidence returned. He believes he's more prepared for the 2009 season than he was for the 2008 season.

"Oh, 100 percent better," he said. "It feels like night and day. Not to say last year I wasn't prepared. It just says that this year I'm that much more prepared."

Crompton isn't the only Vol who is optimistic about the prospects for the 2009 offense. His offensive teammates are equally upbeat on the heels of a strong preseason camp.

"It's been fun watching some of the freshmen develop and watching some of the older guys start clicking in the offense," he said. "It's been fun watching everybody hone in on what we've got to do as a team and take the task at hand and run with it."


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