Jacob Huesman looked up and away, like a philosopher pondering one of life's big questions. The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga redshirt freshman quarterback was evaluating his performance this season.
"If I had to give myself a grade, hmmm, I don't know, probably just 'C' for average," he said. "The record shows it. We're 4-4 and that's .500 — average."
The Mocs (4-4, 3-2) head into Saturday's game at Western Carolina (1-8, 0-7) needing a big finish to have a shot at sharing the Southern Conference title. That means they need their quarterback to keep doing what he's been doing.
Huesman leads UTC in rushing with 597 yards and four touchdowns, including a 170-yard performance last week against now-No. 1 Georgia Southern. He's completed 117 of 177 passes for 1,141 yards and 10 touchdowns, with just three interceptions. His completion percentage of .661 is the highest in the SoCon of anyone with more than 50 attempts.
"A-plus" was the grade UTC offensive coordinator Marcus Satterfield gave Huesman, UTC's first-team quarterback since the second week of the season, after Terrell Robinson quit the team and then returned.
"You see him do things that old guys don't do," Satterfield said of Huesman. "He's very cool and he always thinks he's going to make a play -- and he usually does. He's a tough, tough kid, mentally and physically."
UTC players have won back-to-back SoCon freshman-of-the-year awards. Cornerback Kadeem Wise got it in 2010 and Robinson shared the honor last season. According to the SoCon, no school has had a winner three years in a row and never has a program produced back-to-back winners from the same position.
All that might change because Huesman has to be among the leading contenders, along with Appalachian State wideout Sean Price.
UTC head coach Russ Huesman has been guarded with his words regarding his eldest son all season. Until Tuesday's weekly news conference, he'd thrown praise toward him like it was a manhole cover because he didn't want to show favoritism.
"It's hard to talk about his numbers and his accomplishments, and I'm sure he doesn't like talking about them, either," Coach Huesman said Monday.
He opened up a bit Tuesday about Jacob and his efforts to make him tough. Even in the car after youth-league games, the father would get on the son about mistakes.
"If he wasn't doing something right — baseball, football, whatever it was — he heard about it," Coach Huesman said.
That didn't stop until UTC began recruiting Jacob; after that, he could do no wrong in his father's eyes, at least until he signed with the Mocs. Though they don't interact much on the practice or game field, they have a very good relationship.
Still, being the son of the coach hasn't made Jacob's first season as a starter any easier.
"Everywhere we've gone, I've been called 'Daddy's boy' and things like that," he said. "Sometimes I do have to remind myself, there's a reason I'm playing and it's because I can play at this level. Sometimes it gets a little difficult and it helps when I play a good game, because then I can think that's why I'm out here."
Nick Pollard is 8-of-14 on field goals this season and Coach Huesman said it's time for the kicker to deliver consistently. If Pollard struggles Saturday, Henrique Ribeiro will get a shot. ... Former Mocs cornerback Buster Skrine will be one of the Cleveland Browns' captains Sunday against the Baltimore Ravens.
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 ...