Wofford coach Mike Ayers is a stoic, determined-looking 65-year-old man. It's easy to picture him coaching at West Point, or even running West Point.
It's perhaps harder to picture him saying what he did Tuesday, about University of Tennessee at Chattanooga quarterback Jacob Huesman: "That cat's cool as a cucumber."
Ayers went on to say many more nice things about the redshirt sophomore who has helped lead UTC to the top of the Southern Conference standings with two league games remaining. The Mocs (7-2, 5-1 ) host Ayers' Terriers (5-3, 4-1) at Finley Stadium at 2 p.m. Saturday.
"He makes things happen," Ayers said. "He turns a bad play many times into a positive play. The big thing that I think they're asking him to do is manage the game. They've got enough tools that surround him, enough players that surround him that have big-play capabilities, and when they have a chance to get you, they're going to get you.
"But at the same time they're going to be patient and deliberate, and if something breaks down, he's talented enough to take you from a minus play into a plus."
The Mocs' starting quarterback for the final 10 games last season, Jacob led UTC with 904 rushing yards and seven rushing touchdowns. He also threw for 1,712 yards and 13 touchdowns.
As a sophomore, he's again the Mocs' top rusher -- Keon Williams was in the lead before missing the past two games with an ankle injury -- with 780 yards and eight touchdowns. Because UTC has run the ball so effectively this season, Huesman's passing numbers are a little down, but he's thrown for 1,221 yards and his 15 touchdown passes rank second in the SoCon.
His father, Mocs coach Russ Huesman, said Jacob has been "solid" this season.
"I think it's more of a level season this year than last year," the coach said. "I think he was a little up and down last year. I think this year he's been more steady. ... He's led our offense tremendously."
Jacob, the reigning SoCon offensive player of the week after his 259 yards of total offense in the Mocs' win at Appalachian State last Saturday, said he'd give himself a grade "somewhere in the B range" for his play through nine games.
"I still don't think I've played my best ballgame," he said. "I've played some good games, but I think [offensive coordinator Jeff Durden] will tell you the same thing, that I haven't played my absolute best."
A preseason second-team All-SoCon pick, Jacob was near his best on Oct. 26, when he led the Mocs on a six-play, 79-yard drive late in the game to beat The Citadel. The final three plays of the drive were his runs of 12, 11 and 13 yards, the last of those for the go-ahead touchdown with 2:02 remaining.
Last week against App State, he was 6-for-6 for 90 yards and two touchdowns in the fourth quarter.
"Physically I've gotten stronger and hopefully a little faster, but probably the biggest improvement is mentally," Jacob said.
The Mocs have won five in a row and are looking for their eighth win of the season, something that hasn't happened at UTC since 1980, when Coach Huesman was a junior safety for the Mocs. It already has been a special season for father and son, who don't always have time to share the moment.
But they did after the App State win last week.
"After all the hoopla and the Powerade bath, I saw Jacob and hugged him for a long time," Coach Huesman said. "That was pretty cool."
Mocs linebacker Muhasibi Wakeel (ankle) went through a light workout Thursday and will play if needed, Coach Huesman said. Tight end Troy Dye (concussion) also practiced. Linebacker Gunner Miller (shoulder) and running back Keon Williams (ankle) didn't practice all week. ... Wofford has won six of the last seven games in the series, including 28-27 at Finley in 2011 and 16-13 in overtime last season in Spartanburg, S.C., to clinch a share of the SoCon title.
Contact John Frierson at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6268. Follow him at twitter.com/MocsBeat.
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 ...