Tennessee coach Phillip Fulmer said Wednesday he expects his senior quarterback to play in Saturday’s opener at California, despite the latest news that Erik Ainge has a broken little finger on his throwing hand. “He is going to play,” Fulmer said of Ainge. “He has thrown and it looks like he’s going to be able to throw just fine. I appreciate him showing the toughness to get himself back out there.”
Fulmer faced a similar situation last year when Ainge was injured late in an Oct. 28 win at South Carolina. Ainge started the next week against LSU, but Jonathan Crompton played most of the way in Tennessee’s last-season loss to the Tigers. “If it doesn’t work out great, then obviously Jonathan will have to be ready,” Fulmer said. “I have the utmost confidence in Jonathan getting the job done. We have said all along we’re going out there to win this football game as a team, and that’s exactly what we’re going to try to do.”
“Jon has done fine,” Fulmer said. “He played pretty well in the LSU game, probably not as well as he would have liked to at Arkansas, although he finished the game strong. We’re fortunate to have a backup with some experience and his ability."