The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga football team is back on the road this weekend, visiting No. 15 Georgia Southern. The Mocs open Southern Conference action against the Eagles on Saturday, Sept. 28, at Paulson Stadium in Statesboro, Ga. Kickoff is set for 6:00 p.m.
UTC is off to a 2-1 start, including consecutive wins over Georgia State (42-14) and Austin Peay (42-10). Chattanooga lost its season opener to UT-Martin (21-31) on Aug. 29. Georgia Southern is 2-1 overall, with wins against Savannah State (77-9) and St. Francis (Pa.) (59-17). The Eagles are 0-1 in SoCon action after dropping their league opener to No. 10 Wofford (20-30) on Sept. 14 in Spartanburg.
UTC Head Coach Russ Huesman visited with the media at the Mocs Media Luncheon in McKenzie Arena today. He was joined by two captains, senior defensive back Chaz Moore and sophomore quarterback Jacob Huesman.
Below are excerpts from today’s interviews. The full interviews can be seen on MocsVision and are attached to this story.
Head Coach Russ Huesman
“We had a good off week. It was in a great spot for us. We had a couple of guys dinged up. I think they’re going to be healthy. When you play a triple option team, it always helps to have the extra prep time. We’re looking forward to playing. We’re back in game week mode right now. Last week we got after them pretty good. I think we had a good week of practice. It’s a big one because it’s Georgia Southern. It’s a great atmosphere down there and a great place to play a football game. It’s the first conference game and I’m looking forward to it.”
Thoughts on defending one dimensional team
“Well, I don’t know if it’s one dimensional. It’s really three dimensional. It’s triple option. I think the hard part about defending Georgia Southern is because it is triple option and it is assignment football, but they have such great team speed. They can get on the perimeter, and they can house call you at any point in time. Sometimes when you don’t have great team speed, maybe you have a guy chasing a down into an eight-yard gain. Georgia Southern can turn it into a 60-yard gain. They did it to us two years ago down there. They’re really, really talented. We have to contain them the best we can and make sure we’re assignment sound. Sometimes these option teams kind of paralyze you a little bit. We can’t be paralyzed. We have to chase the ball, we have to get of off blocks, we have to stay on our feet and we have to tackle well.”
On how they can paralyze a team
“When it's assignment football it’s almost like you have one guy to cover and that’s it. The good ones can close in and see the dive and maybe come off. It’s assignment football. You may have a guy chasing a pitch down and the guy runs right past him. I mean, figure it out. Let’s put a hand on him or something. Sometimes it can slow you down but hopefully it won’t.”
On how the off week helped the defense
“It helped us in two ways. It helped us prepare and get a feel for it. It gave us the opportunity to spend three days as fast as we can go and cutting them, and trying to get us on the ground. Sometimes you can’t do that Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday of a game week, but last week we could do that. We just made the decision we were going to cut full speed, we were going to come off the ball full speed, and we’re going to double team people. That helped. The second way it helped is that - obviously they’ll never get close to simulating the speed - It takes your scout team two days just to figure out with motions, how to arch block, how to load block, and offensive line how to come off the ball. If you don’t have an open week, you spend probably your whole first practice just trying to make sure the scout team goes in the right direction. That helps. Now after the first time through, when we play The Citadel and Wofford you feel better because you use the same group, and they kind of have an idea on what to do and what you expect from them. So it’s really not a whole new learning experience.”
On how Chattanooga has simulated the Georgia Southern offense
“Well for one what we do is we never snap the football. The quarterback has the ball in his hands all the time and we try to get him moving as fast as humanly possible. Probably still not as fast as you need it, but when you don’t have to take that snap and you’re running a speed option, that quarterback can just set and take off and you have to react to that. You try to simulate the best you can the speed aspect of it. We’ve snapped a Nerf ball and just let that thing fly around, and now we have a towel taped, the center will snap that, and the quarterback always has the ball in his hands. Nothing really crazy but you do have to take on blocks full speed. We worked and worked and worked on cut blocks and hopefully it pays dividends.”
Jacob Huesman, Quarterback, Sophomore
On preparing for an option offense
“Any week we play an option offense, the defense is really putting in a hard day’s work. Not a lot changes for the offense from week-to-week based on who we play. We just go out there and focus on how we can get better on the things that we do to have success.”
On being on the offensive side of a triple option team
“Time of possession is going to go down. You’re going to get fewer chances to score and that’s really what they’re all about. You really have to make the most of the possessions that you get against them. Hopefully we will be playing fast so that cancels it out a little bit.”
Thoughts on Keon Williams over the past two weeks
“Having Keon Williams running the ball like he has the past two weeks takes a lot of pressure off of the passing game and the quarterback run. He has been running phenomenally and he’s running it better than I have ever seen him run it. If we’re in a third-and-short, we can give it to Keon and he can pick it up. It puts more stress on the other team’s defense because we now have so many guys who can do something when they have their hands on the ball.”
On how many possessions the offense needs to win
“We haven’t really talked about how many plays or possessions we want to have in the game. We just want to go out there and play our game. We have faith in the defense and they have always played well against Georgia Southern. We don’t want to concern ourselves with the number plays we can get off. If we’re executing, we can score points no matter how many possessions we get. That’s how we feel.”
Chaz Moore, Defensive Back, Senior
On making plays against Georgia Southern
“As long as everyone is making plays, our tackling is going to be spread out. There isn’t anyone specifically making any more tackles than the other. Kadeem Wise leads but we are all running to the ball. Whoever can make the play will make the play. Right now it is spread out going into Southern.”
What the defense is doing to prepare to Georgia Southern
“All we are doing is running. The more players getting to the football, the more chances we have at making a play.”
On if an option team is boring to play for a defensive back
“It’s not boring for me because I like to tackle. I live for games like this. Anyone who likes to play physical football should enjoy going to Georgia Southern.”