Vols Starting Quarterback Nursing Injured Finger

UT Vols Head Football Coach Phillip Fulmer says starting Quarterback Erik Ainge injured his pinky finger at practice and will not be participating in drills over the next few days ahead of the CAL game in Berkeley on Saturday.

The injury to his throwing hand isn't serious, but back up Quarterback Sophomore Jonathan Crompton will be leading the lead in drills until an injury report on Ainge's status for Saturday is released.

Hear more from Coach Fulmer, during his first Media Day Press Conference of the 2007 Football Season, attached.


Tennessee head coach Phillip Fulmer said Tuesday that a slight finger injury on Erik Ainge’s throwing hand would limit the Vols senior at practice over the next couple of days. Fulmer said Ainge suffered the mishap during Monday’s workout.

“Erik was taking a snap from center and jammed his little finger,” Fulmer said during his Tuesday press conference. “We’re going to give me a couple days off because it is pretty darn sore for him. Hopefully, it will be fine for the game. If not, Jonathan Crompton will be ready to go and we’ll go from there.”

UT moved its Tuesday practice into the Neyland-Thompson Sports Center, preparing further for Saturday’s season opener at California. The Golden Bears’ Memorial Stadium has a similar playing surface to Tennessee’s indoor practice field.

Tennessee practices again Wednesday and Thursday before departing Thursday afternoon for the West Coast. The Vols and Bears meet Saturday at Berkeley in a 5:13 p.m. kickoff, with the Vol Radio Network and ABC Sports providing the coverage.


“Obviously, from our standpoint, we are very excited to play this football team and see where we are as a team. To this point it has been a fun team to be around, a fun team to coach and a responsive group. Our leadership has grown with our junior and senior class as we’ve gone through the spring and the summer and the fall. We added a group of young and exciting skill guys, of which I think you’re talking about eight that will help us to some degree during the course of the year.

“We start with a very tough opponent in Cal. I don’t think that there is any question, as you look at the tape and the improvement that they made during the course of the year, that they are an outstanding football team. The quarterback will be as good as we will play during the course of the year; he can make all the throws. A running back, Forsett, and a group of young guys that I understand they are playing are as good as we will face during the year. A group of wide receivers, led by DeSean Jackson, that are exceptional, and a big physical offensive line. Our defense, right out of the box, has a tremendous challenge ahead of them. I told the team yesterday, if we’re going to win this football game, it has to be as a team. Offensively, doing our part, making sure we don’t turn it over; try to keep it away from Cal to some degree. Our defensive goals are obviously stopping Cal and being able to pressure the quarterback and then winning all phases of the kicking game. That’s a tremendous challenge that we did a good job of last year.

“Defensively, Cal is replacing a number of guys much like us. We’re not quite 100 percent sure of the personnel the first game. It’s always that way, but we do know that we will get an eight-man front package and a lot of pressure. It’s certainly an advantage to have a senior quarterback available.

“Our team, I think is invested well in this season and is prepared. As far as condition, we’ve handled the heat extremely well. The demanding practices we’ve been through, the physicalness of it, I believe it has made our team better. We’re building on a bounce-back year in 06. Building on that this year is our goal and taking a run at the championship, which is always our goal.

“We’re pleased with the improvement we have made to this point, reasonably satisfied with the depth we’ve been able to build during the course of camp and spring. The defensive front, as I’ve said a number of times, has been a concern, particularly defensive tackle. I’m not ready to anoint him yet because I want to see him do it in a game, but Demonte Bolden has been a guy that has really made significant strides for us as a potential disrupter in the middle. We’ve been at our best on defense when we’ve had one of those. As I said, nobody could ever imagine how much we missed Justin Harrell last year after he got hurt. I hope Demonte continues on that path. Xavier Mitchell and Antonio Reynolds are huge to us this season if they play like they played the last half of spring practice and during the course of this camp. I’m really happy about the secondary and where we’ve come from their standpoint. That’s probably an area that we’re going to be the most tested in. We’ll find out a lot about where we are there.

“Kicking-wise, certainly I’m hopeful that Britton (Colquitt) will be 100 percent when we get to game time. My first thought right now is that he’ll only do the punting. Extra points, field goals and kickoffs will be done by Daniel Lincoln. Chad Cunningham will be available for either one if needed.”

Story Courtesy: Published Reports & UT Sports Information

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