published Tuesday, February 28th, 2012

UTC coach Russ Huesman now free to rove

Running back Keon Williams carries the ball at the first official day of spring practice for the UTC football team Monday at the Scrappy Moore practice facility.
Running back Keon Williams carries the ball at the first official day of spring practice for the UTC football team Monday at the Scrappy Moore practice facility.
Photo by John Rawlston /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

Russ Huesman roamed all over Scrappy Moore Field on Monday during the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga football team's first practice of the spring.

This is Huesman's fourth spring as the Mocs' head coach, but his first not to be a position coach. That change is one of many that happened during the offseason, which led to a slightly different look and feel at practice.

"I wasn't bored," said Huesman, who had been the safeties coach -- a job that now belongs to Adam Braithwaite, one of four new assistants.

While the offense was running its version of the spread with Terrell Robinson as the No. 1 quarterback -- a big change from the pro style UTC ran for three years with B.J. Coleman -- Huesman occasionally came by to offer encouragement or criticism.

He did the same with the defense, primarily the secondary. Huesman will still help coach on special teams, but he's leaving the rest to his staff. It's an adjustment, he said.

"I just don't want those guys to feel like I'm breathing down their neck," he said.

As for the overall performance in the first of 15 spring practices, "sloppy" was the first word out of Huesman's mouth. He did like some of what he saw, namely the play of receiver Ron Moore Jr., safety Zach McCarter and defensive end Josh Williams.

"He looked really good today," Huesman said of McCarter, a walk-on from Hixson High School who played in 10 games as a redshirt freshman last season.

McCarter is listed as the starting free safety, with All-SoCon selection D.J. Key sliding over to strong safety following the graduation of Jordan Tippit. Shane Heatherly has taken over for All-SoCon linebacker Ryan Consiglio at the Sam position.

Heatherly started 10 games at Mike linebacker in 2010 before losing his spot last season to Wes Dothard, who went on to have an All-SoCon and All-America season.

"I'm looking forward to seeing Shane step up and see what he can do," Dothard said. "He's got a big spot to fill and I think he can do it."

Robinson, who started three games last season and played well enough to share SoCon freshman of the year honors, said it was different coming in to spring practice as the No. 1 quarterback.

"All eyes are on you," he said.

The Mocs will practice again Wednesday.

Trio suspended

Defensive backs Cam Montgomery, T.J. Thompson and Clim Robbins are suspended and will not participate in spring practice "for violation of team policy," Huesman said. All three are freshmen from Florida who redshirted in the fall; Montgomery and Robbins played together at Jones High School in Orlando.

In addition, wide receiver Jarrett Burns will not play his final season. Huesman said that was a mutual decision.

Contact John Frierson at jfrierson@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6268. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/mocsbeatCTFP.

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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