‘Ocho Stinko’ calls give way to cheers for brilliant game
By TYLER ESTEP
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Tennessee quarterback Jonathan Crompton came into Saturday as one of Volunteer fans’ favorite goats, throwing for almost as many interceptions (eight) as touchdowns (nine), and earning the derisive moniker “Ocho Stinko.”
He left the Volunteers’ game with Georgia a hero, going 20-for-27 passing for 310 yards and four touchdowns.
It’s not the first time Georgia’s pass defense has made a prince out of a pauper behind center this season.
“Tennessee out-executed us, out-coached us, out-played us and kept us off balance,” said Georgia defensive coordinator and secondary coach Willie Martinez. “We weren’t able to make plays. Coaching, playing, Tennessee deserves a lot of that credit.”
By that train of thought, a couple of other SEC teams deserve credit for picking apart Georgia’s secondary.
South Carolina quarterback Stephen Garcia, for whom exceeding 200 yards passing is a rarity, threw for 313 and a pair of touchdowns against the Bulldogs in September.
A week later in his first SEC start, Arkansas quarterback Ryan Mallett lit up the Georgia secondary for 408 yards and five scores.
So where to go from here, for a team that was ranked the nation’s 87th-best pass defense before a poor performance against the Vols?
“You go back to practice, and you just try and get better,” said corner Prince Miller. “You can’t let Tennessee beat you twice. That’s the one thing you can’t do.”
Added safety Bryan Evans: “To correct the mistakes. We’re all we’ve got.”
Fueling Tennessee to its 45-19 win, Crompton made a living on the bootleg Saturday, rolling out and finding receivers on the run.
Crompton, a senior from Waynesville, N.C., completed 74 percent of his passes against the Bulldogs. By comparison, he connected on just half of his throws in a win over Ohio earlier this season.
“The one thing that he does really well is throw the ball on the run, sprinting out,” Martinez said. “That’s why they do it. Whether it’s booting or if it’s a sprint out or a roll out, he’s got a strong arm. He obviously played very well today.”
Said Crompton: “We got the right play calls because we knew what they were going to do.”
Georgia redshirt freshman safety Bacarri Rambo did supply some excitement with an interception returned for a touchdown midway through the third quarter, putting Georgia within five points.
But it was Miller getting burned for a 51-yard Gerald Jones’ touchdown that ended all thought of a Bulldog comeback by the time the quarter ended.
Crompton went from goat to great in 60 minutes Saturday, a lesson Georgia’s secondary can learn from.
“That happens,” Miller said. “People are going to praise you when you’re doing good and be down on you when you’re down. He has pride too, he’s a man. He showed why you just keep playing.”