As a freshman fullback in the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga's pro-style offense in 2011, Taharin Tyson started seven games and made an impact with 47 carries and a lot of key blocks.
Last season after the Mocs switched to a spread system, Tyson was mostly a spectator on the sideline. He had just six carries and didn't even get to do much blocking.
"I was just trying to figure out, where do I fit?" Tyson said following the Mocs' Saturday morning practice at Scrappy Moore Field. "I really didn't fit that well."
New offensive coordinator Jeff Durden is figuring out how to use Tyson, which is why the 5-foot-11, 225-pound rising junior was smiling when he talked about what's been happening this spring.
"I'm a lot more involved, and it's making it really enjoyable," Tyson said. "They're finding ways to get me on the field, and that's great for me. I feel more involved with the team, with the offense."
Head coach Russ Huesman said Tyson has had a very good spring.
"He's blocking really well, and he's doing a really nice job," Huesman said. "Jeff's been really happy with him."
Tyson, who split time between running back and fullback at Alcoa High School, said he considers himself a "hybrid" back, equally adept at running and blocking. He's doing both effectively this spring, as well as catching balls out of the backfield.
Happy to be more than a spectator, Tyson said the Mocs' offense revolves around a lot more than one or two players.
"Coach Durden can find a way to get different personnel in," Tyson said. "Everybody's involved in the offense right now. We're getting the ball spread around and that's hard to defend.
"If our defense is having a problem with it -- I think our defense is one of the best in the country -- and if they're having a problem some days, then imagine what other people are going to have."
UTC's field-goal kicking was inconsistent during the 2012 season, and little has changed this spring.
Nick Pollard (9-for-15) and Henrique Ribeiro were a combined 12-for-20 last season. In Friday's scrimmage, Ribeiro missed from 51 yards and connected on attempts from 34 and 26. Pollard missed from 45 and 44, while making kicks of 36, 31 and 24 yards.
"We can't miss them. I told them today, you just can't miss them," Huesman said.
Huesman continues to be pleased with Pollard's punting. He took over as the punter in the 2012 season, using the rugby style, and averaged 41.5 yards per boot. Of his 55 punts, 23 were downed inside the 20-yard line. He had three downed inside the 10 during Friday's scrimmage.
The Mocs are off today and will wrap up spring practice with workouts Monday and Wednesday and the Blue and Gold game Saturday at 2 p.m. at Finley Stadium. ... Running back Kenny Huitt (contusion) and linebacker Muhasibi Wakeel (knee) practiced Saturday after sitting out the scrimmage.
Contact John Frierson at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6268. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/mocsbeatCTFP.
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 ...