published Friday, October 21st, 2011

Elon will test Mocs’ strong pass defense

It’s not a team’s pass defense number that matters, University of Tennessee at Chattanooga coach Russ Huesman said. What counts is where a team stands in pass efficiency defense.

Either way his Mocs are looking good as they head into their eighth game of the season, Saturday at Elon.

In the statistic Huesman said means little, UTC leads the Football Championship Subdivision in pass defense, with just 117.4 passing yards allowed per game.

Huesman doesn’t care about that one because having faced two triple-option teams such as Georgia Southern and The Citadel, as the Mocs have, gives that average a boost. Those teams don’t throw the ball very much.

In pass efficiency defense — which factors in stats such as completion percentage, touchdowns and interceptions — the Mocs lead the Southern Conference and are third in the FCS with a rating of 92.74.

“We’re obviously doing pretty good,” said Huesman, whose Mocs (3-4, 1-3) have allowed just three passing touchdowns all season.

Those stellar numbers against the pass, combined with a solid run defense, are why the Mocs rank No. 7 in the FCS in total defense at 288.6 yards allowed per game. UTC was No. 80 (370 ypg) at the end of the 2010 season.

“We’re way better,” a smiling Huesman said.

One reason for the Mocs’ improvement is the effectiveness of their nickel and dime packages with five defensive backs. In the nickel package, cornerback Chaz Moore has typically replaced linebacker Gunner Miller. In the dime, Moore has come in and a defensive tackle has been removed.

“It’s gotten good players on the field that have played a lot of football,” defensive coordinator Adam Fuller said. “It gives us a lot more flexibility.”

The Mocs likely will have five defensive backs on the field a lot Saturday at Elon (4-3, 2-2), which often uses four wideouts and averages 265.9 passing yards a game. Quarterback Thomas Wilson has 13 touchdowns and has completed 66.2 percent of his passes, but he’s also thrown 15 interceptions.

Elon’s Aaron Mellette has been one of the two or three best wideouts in the FCS in 2011. He has 74 receptions for 990 yards, and he’s caught a touchdown pass in each game.

“He’s getting a lot of catches, and he has a little touchdown streak going,” Elon coach Jason Swepson said, “but for us to be successful we need two or three touchdowns out of him, not one, and that’s what we’re going to strive to get done over the next couple of weeks.”

Extra points

When asked after Thursday’s practice who will start at quarterback Saturday, Terrell Robinson or B.J. Coleman, Huesman would only say that “either B.J. or Terrell will start this game.” Coleman has been out with a sprained shoulder since Oct. 8. ... Taylor Dodds will start at right guard for UTC, in place of Kevin Revis (knee).

about John Frierson...

John Frierson is in his seventh year at the Times Free Press and seventh year covering University of Tennessee at Chattanooga athletics. The bulk of his time is spent covering Mocs football, but he also writes about women’s basketball and the big-picture issues and news involving the athletic department. A native of Athens, Ga., John grew up a few hundred yards from the University of Georgia campus. Instead of becoming a Bulldog he attended Ole ...

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