Bounce-back at quarterback

Bounce-back at quarterback

As he watched film of Wednesday's practice, Tennessee head football coach Lane Kiffin may have pondered implementing an offense that features no quarterback.

Those thoughts gradually vanished, though, when he saw the QBs bounce back and play reasonably well in Thursday's workout.

"I thought the quarterbacks were better today," Kiffin said. "After (watching) the film, yesterday was not a very good day. But I thought today they came back and played better, took care of the ball better."

First-teamer Jonathan Crompton made a dozen or so exceptional throws, including a 45-yard touchdown strike to fullback Austin Johnson and a 20-yarder to Gerald Jones in the back/right corner of the end zone. Crompton had one "2008 moment," however, failing to see the free safety on a pass into the end zone that was intercepted by Prentiss Waggner.

Second-teamer Nick Stephens was fairly sharp, as well, featuring a 50-yard TD bomb to Jones among his best efforts. Stephens also had a "2008 moment," however, trying to force a throw into the end zone that was picked off by freshman cornerback Eric Gordon.

All in all, though, Crompton and Stephens were much sharper on Thursday than they had been on Wednesday.

"They threw a number of picks yesterday," Kiffin noted. "It was good to see them bounce back today. The 7-on-7 (work) at the beginning was really good, not as good late. The rest of practice they were pretty decent."

As most fans are acutely aware, "pretty decent" would represent a significant upgrade over Tennessee's quarterback play last fall.

Other practice highlights:

Freshman defensive tackle Arthur Jeffery seemed to be moving pretty well for a guy coming off major knee surgery.

Linebacker Herman Lathers blasted freshman running back Bryce Brown, causing a fumble. Offensive coordinator Jim Chaney immediately made the entire offense run a lap around the practice field. Brown lost another fumble minutes later when he took a textbook shot from linebacker Rico McCoy. In Brown's defense, his fumbles were caused by two thunderous hits.

David Oku, the "other" freshman running back, exhibited a tremendous burst of speed on an off-tackle run. He did a great job waiting for a block on a five-yard touchdown run moments later and subsequently capped an impressive workout by zooming 25 yards with a screen pass.

Senior tailback Montario Hardesty showed some burst on a run up the gut and moments later made a spectacular one-hand catch of a 30-yard pass.

Flashy freshman cornerback Eric Gordon leaped high to deflect a pass from Stephens intended for Quintin Hancock. As mentioned above, Gordon also intercepted a Stephens pass in the end zone.

Tight end Luke Stocker made a spectacular sliding catch of a pass over the middle that was underthrown by Stephens.

Sophomore tailback Tauren Poole made a nifty cutback through heavy traffic on a 10-yard touchdown run.

Freshman wideout Nu'Keese Richardson made the most spectacular play of the day, soaring through the air to make an acrobatic catch of a 20-yard pass from Stephens. Richardson's grab didn't count - he came down out of bounds - but it still was a magnificent display of athleticism.

Defensive back Stephaun Raines was flagged for pass interference in covering Brandon Warren and made to run a lap around the practice field.

Warren made one of the day's finest catches, leaping to reel in a high throw from Crompton for a 20-yard gain along the east sidelines.

Hampered somewhat by a cast on his left wrist, wideout Gerald Jones couldn't quite pull in a beautifully thrown 30-yard pass from Stephens. Bouncing to his feet following the diving attempt, he shouted, "If I just had another hand... " Then, nodding toward Stephens, he added: That one was on me."

A laser-like 10-yard pass from Stephens bounced off Richardson's shoulder pads.

Lathers belted wideout Todd Campbell just as a pass arrived, sending the receiver and the ball flying in different directions.

Hancock ran a beautiful route and was wide open on a 20-yard touchdown catch from Stephens.

Running backs coach Eddie Gran, who also oversees special teams, made Campbell run a lap around the practice field for being offsides on a kickoff.

Campbell atoned moments later by making a fine leaping catch of a high throw from Crompton.

Nu'Keese Richardson made a tough catch over the middle, despite taking a big hit from All-America safety Eric Berry.

A resounding shot from freshman safety Darren Myles broke up a potential touchdown pass intended for freshman receiver Marsalis Teague.

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