It was terrible, I agree.
Tennessee's flop against UCLA was the stuff of which 2008 was made. The foul, putrid stuff. Turnovers, failed conversions, inopportune defensive lapses...yeah, it felt a lot like last year.
And just like last year, the fans booed profusely, particularly after quarterback Jonathan Crompton's second and third interceptions, which led to Bruin scores.
But unlike last year, Tennessee fans need to be patient. Programs aren't built in a game. Crompton is not the quarterback who will lead UT back to national prominence, and fans need to stop jumping on him. They also need to stop calling for backup Nick Stephens to get into the game.
Remember the last two times the Vols had a quarterback controversy? They were also the worst two seasons of Phillip Fulmer's tenure. In 2005, Erik Ainge and Rick Clausen juggled signal-calling duties. When one screwed up, the other was inserted. The game of leapfrog lasted the entire 5-6 season. Who knows what might have happened if one QB had been established as THE guy?
And we all remember the struggles of Crompton and Stephens last year. The staff never picked their primary quarterback, and neither player was able to establish rhythm or have any kind of success. Would the Vols have gone 9-3 if the staff had stuck with Crompton? Nope. But perhaps they would have beaten Wyoming or even Georgia.
Consistency at quarterback is important -- not only in terms of how the QB is playing, but also with regard to who is playing. For instance, what happens to UT's freshman receivers and running backs if they never know who's going to be under center? They become focused on adjusting to the style of the guy at the helm instead of developing their games. Those freshmen are the future of the program, not Crompton or Stephens. It's important to let them learn in a vacuum, eliminating variables that could stunt their growth.
Tennessee fans need to focus on the process, not the immediate product this program is putting forth. Losses to SEC foes will always be painful, but the lessons the Vols learn from the lumps they take will serve them well in the future. Is this coaching staff still trying to go 11-1 this year? Of course. Will they? Nope.
But fans don't need to jump off the Kiffin bandwagon. That's foolish, impatient, hasty and immature. Support Crompton. Support Kiffin. And know that current failures don't dictate future misery.
The future is still as bright as a radiant Neyland Stadium on a Saturday afternoon.
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