GoMocs.com finishes its 2013 Training Camp Rundown of the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga football team with today’s overview of the special teams. Kicking, punting, snapping, holding and returning will all be a vital part of the Mocs’ success this season.
UTC returns both of its kickers from the 2012 squad. Junior Nick Pollard (Smyrna, Tenn.) and sophomore Henrique Ribeiro (Sao Paulo, Brazil) battled throughout the season for the kicking duties and will again compete for the starting job in 2013.
“Nick Pollard has kicked a lot of balls for us and I believe he has had a lot of success,” stated head coach Russ Huesman. “I believe his punting was tremendous last year and a great weapon. We probably missed too many field goals last year but we are working on that. I know the guys are working hard to improve, and Henrique Ribeiro is a talent competing for a spot. They are both really good we feel good about them.”
Pollard has been the starting kicker for each of the last two seasons. He is 19-29 (65.5%) on field goals in his career and 19-23 (82.6%) from inside 40 yards. Last season, he connected on 9-15 attempts and was 28-30 on PATs. He has 117 career points and needs three more to enter the top-10 at UTC. He also managed 11 touchbacks in 42 kickoffs.
Ribeiro, a 2012 graduate of Chattanooga’s Baylor School, played in seven games as a true freshman. He had two touchbacks in 14 kickoffs and was 3-5 on field goals. He had a season-long 46-yard field goal in the season opener at South Florida. He was also 1-1 on PATs and finished with 10 points.
Pollard handled the punting duties, as well as serving as the primary place-kicker. He was No. 25 in the nation with a 41.5-yard average on 55 punts. He had 10 punts over 50 yards and pinned opposing teams inside their own 20-yard line 23 times.
In the season finale against Elon, Pollard had three 50-yarders and pinned the Phoenix inside its own 20 five times. He is on the College Football Performance Awards Watch List for punters heading into the 2013 season.
Chattanooga had excellent punt coverage in 2012. The Mocs were third in the SoCon and No. 14 in the FCS with a 38.2-yard net punting average for the season.
”We always aim high and Coach Huesman wants us to have a great season,” added Pollard. “We did very well in punting last year. I think we finished 14th in the nation so the only way to go is up. We want to improve on that and we know field goal numbers weren’t the best last year. We know there were a couple we should have hit and now we feel like we are kicking the ball well. Henrique is being consistent and the snappers are doing a great job. We are trying to be perfect every time.”
Sophomore quarterback Jacob Huesman (Chattanooga, Tenn.) returns as the holder in the kicking game. Junior Tommy Hudson (Moultrie, Ga.) was the backup last year, but true freshman Davis Howell (Knoxville, Tenn.) is also honing the craft.
There is a battle for the long snapping job between redshirt freshman Will Sharpton (Tullahoma, Tenn.) and true freshman Joe McMahon (Mount Juliet, Tenn.). Sharpton sat out last season as a redshirt, but gained valuable experience through a year of practice. McMahon was a two-time special teams MVP at Mount Juliet (Tenn.) High School and has had an impressive camp.
“Will Sharpton and Joe McMahon are having a great battle at long snapper,” said Huesman. “With long snaps, short snaps and punts, they are both talented players. They both do a great job and they are battling. I like them both a lot, and it may get to a point in the season where we have one short snapper and one long snapper. I don’t know how that is going to play out, but they are really battling really well.”
Chattanooga looks to improve on its overall return game this season. UTC was No. 8 in the SoCon in both punt and kickoff returns, averaging 4.9 and 19.4 yards, respectively.
Look for Hudson to return as the primary punt returner in 2013. He is working to improve on his 5.2-yard average on 15 attempts. Senior defensive back Chaz Moore (Memphis, Tenn.) is the backup and could move up if increased production is needed.
Moore is expected to be the primary kick returner, along with junior running back Marquis Green (Palmetto, Fla.). Moore averaged 20.2 yards on 17 returns last season. Green had one return for 24 yards in 2012.
Game week is officially upon us as the Mocs prepare for Thursday’s season opener against UT Martin. Chattanooga hosts the Skyhawks on Aug. 29 at 7:30 p.m. (E.D.T.) at Finley Stadium. Tickets are on sale now on GoMocs.com, or by calling the UTC Ticket Office at (423) 266-MOCS (6627).
Special Teams Depth Chart
|K||30||Nick Pollard||6-0||180||Jr.-2L||Smyrna, Tenn.||19-29 FGs in his career|
|40||Henrique Ribeiro||6-0||220||So.-1L||Chattanooga, Tenn.||46-yarder at USF|
|P||30||Nick Pollard||6-0||180||Jr.-2L||Smyrna, Tenn.||No. 25 in the nation with 41.5 yards per kick|
|40||Henrique Ribeiro||6-0||220||So.-1L||Chattanooga, Tenn.||Back-up punter|
|DS||45||Will Sharpton||6-3||255||Fr.-RS||Tullahoma, Tenn.||Sat out last season as a redshirt|
|or||56||Joe McMahon||6-0||220||Fr.-HS||Mount Juliet, Tenn.||Competing for the job as a true frosh|
|H||14||Jacob Huesman||6-1||210||So.-1L||Chattanooga, Tenn.||Second year as the holder|
|8||Tommy Hudson||5-11||175||Jr.-2L||Moultrie, Ga.||Backup holder|
|KOR||1||Chaz Moore||5-10||175||Sr.-3L||Memphis, Tenn.||20.2 average on 17 returns|
|21||Marquis Green||5-7||175||Jr.-2L||Palmetto, Fla.||1 KOR for 24 yards|
|PR||8||Tommy Hudson||5-11||175||Jr.-2L||Moultrie, Ga.||5.2 PR average on 15 tries|
|1||Chaz Moore||5-10||175||Sr.-3L||Memphis, Tenn.||1 PR for 1 yard in 2012|