The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga defense — remember it? — hasn't received much attention this week because of what's been happening on the other side of the ball.
No matter, the defense has Jacksonville State coach Jack Crowe's attention. When asked what about the Mocs stands out to the longtime coach, Crowe answered, "Just how good their defense is."
UTC led the Southern Conference in several major defensive categories last season, including scoring and total defense. And those statistics were helped by the Mocs' performance against JSU a year ago, when they held the Gamecocks to 17 yards in the second half of UTC's 38-17 win.
"I'm not sure they're not the best defense in the [Football Championship Subdivision]," Crowe said. "They're really, really, really good on defense."
Mocs coach Russ Huesman and defensive coordinator Adam Fuller might not go that far. Both have said UTC can be really good on defense but isn't there yet. Not after giving up touchdown passes of 19, 38 and 39 yards in the 34-13 season-opening loss at South Florida last week.
That's three in one game after giving up a total of four touchdown passes in 2011. Fuller said Jacksonville State will test UTC's secondary, but that's not all.
"They're a complete team," he said. "They can throw the ball, they can run the ball and they can run the quarterback. They make you defend sideline to sideline and down the field."
The Mocs' secondary will have to stay on wideout Alan Bonner, who had eight catches for 107 yards and a touchdown and ran for a score against eighth-ranked FBS team Arkansas last week.
Left guard Synjen Herren (shoulder) practiced for the first time this week Thursday and will play Saturday, as will backup cornerback Don Cope (back). Backup left tackle Taylor Dodds (knee) will not play. ... UTC leads the series with JSU 26-10, but the Mocs' win last season snapped a four-game losing streak.
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 ...