The Vol Vault

Former Green Bay Packer safety Leroy Butler launched himself into the Lambeau Field stands to celebrate a 1993 touchdown, thereby originating the "Lambeau Leap." Now Tennessee's football program has its own variation. Call it the Vol Vault.

Following a nightmarish season in 2008 and a rocky start in 2009, UT quarterback Jonathan Crompton couldn't contain his enthusiasm after completing 20 of 27 passes for a career-best 310 yards and four TDs Oct. 10 against Georgia. As he trotted from Shields-Watkins Field following a 45-19 Vol victory, he jumped into the front row of stadium seats to share an emotional embrace with his mother and father.

The Vol Vault may not catch on the way the Lambeau Leap has, but it did produce a very touching moment for the Cromptons, who haven't had an awful lot to celebrate the past two years.

That raises an obvious question: Are there more Vol Vaults in Crompton's future or was his performance vs. Georgia a one-shot deal?

If Tennessee is to challenge top-ranked Alabama this Saturday in Tuscaloosa, the Vol QB will need to at least approach the form he exhibited against the Bulldogs. That's asking a lot, though, according to UT head coach Lane Kiffin.

"NFL scouts who come in and watch that (Georgia) game alone are going to give him a first-round grade," the head man said. "It's almost impossible to find something he did wrong as you look at those 27 throws he had."

Crompton also played exceptionally well in Game 1 vs. Western Kentucky, completing 21 of 28 for 233 yards and five touchdowns. In between Games 1 and 6, however, he was mostly mediocre. To be fair, though, he had a bunch of on-target passes dropped, particularly in Game 5 vs. Auburn.

"If your quarterback isn't accurate at times and you drop the ball - like the six drops we had against Auburn - you're not going to do as well," Kiffin said. "Then we go into (the Georgia game) and we catch the ball and we're accurate. When you put them both together, that's what happens."

Naturally, the head man would love to see Crompton throw and the receivers catch the way they did vs. the Bulldogs for the rest of this season.

"We need to continue to build on that," Kiffin said. "We need to continue to make plays for him and we need to continue to be accurate."

Vol receivers made precious few plays for Crompton in Games 1 through 5. That changed in Game 6, however, thanks to the return from injury of juniors Gerald Jones and Denarius Moore. Jones caught 5 passes for a career-high 105 yards and 2 touchdowns. Moore added 4 receptions for 73 yards and a TD. Kiffin believes both are just now getting on the same page with Crompton.

"This isn't the NFL, where you have 10-year vets that come back (from injury) and they've been throwing with the quarterback for seven years," the coach noted. "When our guys come back, that first week usually isn't going to be great as a receiver.

"It's the second and third week back (that things begin to click) because the timing of the passing game with the quarterback is so critical. They (receivers) have no recall. They can't go back to what they've done before."

Maybe Crompton can build on his strong showing vs. Georgia now that he has his timing down with Jones and Moore. And maybe - just maybe - there will be some more Vol Vaults in his future.


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