Russ Huesman wasted little time and did not mince his words.
Special teams bears the brunt of the blame for the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga's 39-31 overtime loss to no. 2 Georgia Southern on Saturday night.
"We absolutely shot ourselves in the foot on special teams," Huesman said. "We absolutely lost the game on special teams today. It was a joke the things that happened on special teams today. We have to get that corrected."
The Mocs muffed three kicks, recovering only one, and Nick Pollard missed a field goal in overtime. The Mocs averaged just 14 yards on the four kickoffs they returned.
GSU turned two UTC fumbled returns into 10 points and averaged 7.5 yards on punt returns and 25.5 yards on four kickoff returns.
"When you play the No. 2 team in the country, you can't give them possessions, you can't make mistakes in the kicking game," Huesman said. "That game should never have been in overtime."
Chaz Moore bobbled the opening kickoff, resulting in the Mocs taking the field at their own 12-yard line.
Marquis Green returned the next kickoff 20 yards but fumbled it away to Zach York. GSU turned that into a 14-0 lead less than three minutes later.
UTC rallied to take a 24-21 lead and forced a GSU three-and-out. Then Tommy Hudson made a critical mistake after calling for a fair catch.
The punt slipped through his arms. GSU tied the game less than five minutes later.
"I don't know who we've got to do it," Huesman said. "Tommy has been good most of the year. Chaz has been good, but we put Marquis back there and he fumbles it. Tommy didn't want to drop the ball.
"It's not just one thing, it's when you compound them, and most of them happened in the kicking game today."
Lot of Mocs defense
The UTC defense spent a lot of time on the field Saturday night even before the game headed to overtime.
GSU dominated time of possession, 38:52 to 21:08. The Mocs defense defended the triple option on 68 plays in regulation, which is 11 more snaps than average. They faced it 13 snaps in overtime.
"I don't think we were that tired, but trying to defend the trip-option is tough because everybody has to run," linebacker Wes Dothard said. "I started cramping up a bit, but we have to find a way to finish the game. It came down to us on defense."
Lott busy, disruptive
Georgia Southern's offense keeps every defensive player busy. Mocs defensive tackle Derrick Lott, all 6-foot-4, 303 pounds of him, was especially so.
The Eagles run the ball up the middle often in their triple-option, which means they ran it right at Lott and fellow tackle Toyvian Brand a great deal. Lott was not only busy fighting off blocks and making stops inside, but he once brought down GSU quarterback Jerick McKinnon 17 yards downfield.
Defensive tackle isn't usually a position that generates big stat numbers, but Lott tied with linebacker Wes Dothard for a game-high 15 tackles. Lott was so worn out he wasn't able to come out for postgame interviews.
Keon gets to play
Mocs running back Keon Williams ran for 2 yards in the second quarter. It was an inconsequential play, except that the former Red Bank High School star hadn't touched the ball since UTC's loss to Appalachian State on Sept. 22.
Williams led UTC with 52 yards rushing against the Mountaineers, but UTC backs J.J. Jackson, Kenny Huitt and Marquis Green got all the carries during the next three games.
Later in the quarter, Williams gained a yard on a key third-and-1. Those were his only carries in the game.
Pollard's 39-yard field goal in the second quarter tied a career long. He also made one extra point that was blocked. ....
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 ...
David Uchiyama is a sports writer at the Chattanooga Times Free Press who began his tenure here in May 2001. His primary beats are UTC athletics — specifically men’s basketball and athletic department administration — and golf, which includes coverage from the PGA Tour to youth events. He also covers other high school sports, outdoor adventures, and contributes to other sections of the newspaper when necessary. David grew up in Salinas, Calif., and began working ...