Fulmer vague about how much injured QB can play

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- Injured Tennessee quarterback Erik Ainge practiced again Thursday, but coach Phillip Fulmer was vague about how much the starter would be able to play against No. 13 LSU on Saturday.

Ainge sprained his right ankle in last week's game at South Carolina and has been limited in practice. His backup, Jonathan Crompton, a redshirt freshman, has been used sparingly this season but has been preparing to play if necessary.

The No. 8 Volunteers face one of the toughest defenses in Division I-A this weekend.

"Erik did everything today, practically everything. That's a real plus. That's much improved from yesterday. Still don't have any solid say on exactly what we're going to do, but I'd say it looks like he's going to be able to play," Fulmer said.

When asked to explain whether the decision is about Ainge starting or how much he will play, Fulmer said, "Just how we're going to do it. That's just kind of where we are. … That's all I need to say about it."

Fulmer said a game plan could be decided Friday or before kickoff.

Crompton missed last season to heal from offseason shoulder surgery. Ainge came out of spring practice ahead of Crompton in the rotation. Crompton has played in four games this season but attempted passes only against California and Memphis. He is 4-of-4 for 44 yards.

"Jonathan is talented [and] has done extremely well. He's ready to play. Either one that's out there I expect them to do the job and do well," Fulmer said.

"Obviously Jonathan … against the No. 1 defense in the country, that's not exactly how you want to start your career. He'll certainly get some time. Erik being a little bit on the gimpy side, although I believe he'll be fine to play, that's not exactly the kind of defense you want to go against."