KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -Tennessee coach Phillip Fulmer thinks Jonathan Crompton is capable of managing a big-time Southeastern Conference rivalry game. Now he just has to prove it.
Fulmer said the junior quarterback, starting in only his second SEC game, has to play smarter to be able to handle the pressures of conference play.
Crompton has little room for error as the Vols (1-1) face No. 4 Florida (2-0) on Saturday and No. 10 Auburn and No. 3 Georgia in two of the next three weeks.
``He's made some outstanding plays for us in two ball games. He's really shown his ability to throw the ball and manage a game. He's also made three or four plays that will get you beat,'' Fulmer said.
``The most important thing for Jon to do is manage the game and not turn it over,'' he said. ``That's his challenge.''
Crompton started slowly and inconsistently against UCLA. He went 19-for-41 for 189 yards, an interception and no touchdowns as he struggled with his timing with receivers.
or Dave Clawson was encouraged by Crompton's progress against UAB, a 19-for-31 performance with 240 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions. Clawson blamed a handful of incompletions on drops by the receivers.
``The two interceptions were bad, and there was another play that really could have been a pick. Those are the three plays that bother me the most, but I thought other than that he made some good decisions,'' he said.
Clawson said he hasn't done anything different from his normal routine of preparing Crompton mentally for such a big game because he doesn't want any of his players to get over excited.
That might only cause his play to regress, he said.
``My concern with a game like this is sometimes guys get too hyped up, and they get outside of themselves and they try to do things they're not capable of doing,'' Clawson said. ``To overstate those things, I don't think that helps people. We've got to prepare for what Florida does on defense.''
Crompton will need as close to a perfect performance on Saturday against the Gators as he can manage. Florida ranks third nationally in total defense, having allowed an average 190.5 yards in two games, and fourth in pass efficiency defense.
As a redshirt freshman in 2006, Crompton played in two conference games after Erik Ainge went down with an ankle injury, but his performance was consistent at best.
that year like a longtime starter, beating the Tigers twice with deeply thrown touchdown passes and calmly leading the Vols back from a fourth quarter deficit. Tennessee lost that game 28-24, but only because the Vols defense was unable to stop a late score.
At Arkansas the following week, Crompton looked more like a rookie. Crompton threw two more long TD passes but finished 16-for-34 for 174 yards with an interception and four sacks.
Tailback Arian Foster said Crompton's performance in the LSU game is proof that he can handle the pressure of a high-profile game. Foster said Crompton is calm and collected in the huddle when the game is on the line.
For his part, Crompton has been trying to put the pressure of the SEC schedule in perspective.
``It's really no pressure,'' he said. ``Pressure is being over in Iraq fighting for your life for your country.''

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