Tennessee opening up quarterback competition

Posted by ESPN.com's Chris Low

Off to a 1-3 start and getting nothing out of his passing game, Tennessee coach Phillip Fulmer is shaking up his quarterback situation.

Fulmer said Sunday night that Jonathan Crompton and Nick Stephens would compete this week for the starting job. The Tennessee staff will chart all of the practices, and Fulmer said whoever comes out on top would start Saturday against Northern Illinois.

Crompton has started the first four games, but Tennessee's offense has struggled to generate any consistency. He was 8-of-23 for 67 yards last week in the 14-12 loss to Auburn, and the Vols were just 4-of-16 on third down.

The book on Stephens, a third-year sophomore, is that he has an extremely strong arm, but just hasn't played any meaningful snaps. Fulmer said the Vols considered playing Stephens some in each of the last two games.

One other change the Vols plan to make on offense is giving Montario Hardesty increased carries at running back and reducing Arian Foster's role. They also want to get sophomore Lennon Creer more involved in the running game.

Foster, who needs 422 yards to become Tennessee's all-time career rushing leader, was involved in a fumble at the goal line against Auburn where he didn't get the handoff cleanly from Crompton. The Tigers recovered for one of their two touchdowns.

Foster spent the second half of the Auburn game as the third-down back, and Hardesty was used as more of the feature back. Foster has been plagued by several costly fumbles during his career at Tennessee.