published Monday, November 12th, 2012

Mocs struggle to win close games

Once again sitting in his office Sunday after a tough, close loss, University of Tennessee at Chattanooga football coach Russ Huesman said it's up to the coaches to figure out how to get the Mocs "over the hump."

Needing to win its final two games to clinch a share of the Southern Conference championship, UTC lost 16-13 in overtime Saturday at No. 14 Wofford. It was the Mocs' second overtime loss in three weeks -- they lost in triple overtime to then-No. 2 Georgia Southern on Oct. 27 -- and one of many narrow defeats the past two seasons.

"I constantly think about it," he said. "It's always on my mind, and as coaches we've got to figure out ways to get us over the hump in those games."

The Mocs (5-5, 4-3 SoCon) will go for a third winning season in the past four years this week in their home finale against Elon (3-7, 1-6). That hasn't happened at UTC since the 1980s when the Mocs had seven winning seasons in the decade.

After the season, Huesman and his staff will take a hard look at everything they're doing to prepare the team.

"I don't know if it's specifically the circumstances of the game as much as it is how you prepare. Not just during the week, but how you prepare year-round and the things that you do year-round," he said. "When the season's over we're going to go back and think and reassess everything that we're doing to get these guys ready to win a game like that."

Huesman said he was not considering staff changes.

"No, I like our staff. They're doing a good job," he said. "We've just got to put our heads together and figure out how to get us over the hump. Nobody's happy: players, coaches, fans, administration.

"It's not good enough, where we are."

Huesman and his players agree that the Mocs have the talent to beat the top teams in the SoCon. Quarterback Jacob Huesman, who threw for 229 yards and rushed for 68 Saturday, said UTC might not have developed that winning mentality that the elite teams have.

"We just have to look at the positives and we have to remind ourselves that we believe we are one of the best teams in the SoCon," Jacob said. "It's got to be a mentality. Wofford and Georgia Southern and all these teams that we lose the close ones to, their mentality for years has been, 'when it comes down to it, we're winning that game. If it goes to triple overtime, we're winning that game.' And we need to kind of develop that kind of mentality. I don't think we quite have it just yet."

How do you develop that mentality?

"We need to figure that out," Jacob said. "I couldn't give you a definite answer right now."

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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