It has been all over the internet news sites and sports radio, so it is nothing new that Erik Ainge has a broken pinkie finger on his throwing hand. Some have gone as far as projecting backup Jonathan Crompton to get the start versus Cal on Saturday.
Few doubt the ability of Jon Crompton to come in and handle the offense. He did so as a freshman last year and performed as well as could be expected against top SEC foes LSU and Arkansas.
“You’ve got to go out there and compete everyday,” Crompton has said. “That’s what everybody on this team does no matter if you’re first, second, third or fourth team. I think our whole team does a good job with that.”
Crompton came in to the Tennessee program surrounded by all the hype that one would expect when the number one pro style quarterback in the Nation commits to as prestigious a school as the University of Tennessee. While he has been competitive, he has been satisfied with playing the role of a back up his first two years.
“You’ve got to do what’s best for the team,” Crompton said. “You’ve got to know when to be selfish and when not to be.”
But losing a player of Ainge's ability is never good, especially when playing an opponent with the talent that will be seen when Cal takes the field on Saturday.
But Ainge insists that he will line up behind center come game time.
“The issue is, am I going to be able to be as effective as I need to be to win the football game?” Ainge said. “I believe that answer is yes.”
Ainge has been limited in practice but has been throwing some. Fulmer and receiver Josh Briscoe said his passes have looked good.“It was the same as it’s been,” Briscoe said
The injury to Ainge’s pinkie has more of an effect on his grip on the ball than it does his throwing.
An injury to the middle finger or index finger would be more significant because those fingers stay on the football longest.
Ainge finished practice on Monday after sustaining the injury and has been held back in practice only as a precautionary measure.