published Wednesday, October 16th, 2013

Samford surging, getting little respect

Samford went to Boone, N.C., last Saturday and put a 34-10 hurting on Appalachian State in a game that might not have been as close as the score.

The Bulldogs had 461 yards of offense to ASU's 223 and scored on all five trips to the red zone. It was the continuation of a rough final season in the Southern Conference for the Mountaineers (1-5, 1-2) and the continutation of Samford's surge to the top of the standings.

Samford is 3-0 in league play and 5-2 overall with wins also over Georgia Southern, Georgia State, Western Carolina and Florida A&M. The Bulldogs' only defeats were by 10 at Arkansas (in Little Rock) and 34-31 against Southeastern Louisiana, which is now 4-2.

Samford and Wofford (4-2, 3-0) are the only SoCon teams without a conference loss. The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga (4-2, 2-1) is third in the standings. They're the only three SoCon teams with winning records in league play.

Despite a solid resume and some tremendous offensive numbers (451.1 yards per game and 35.7 points per game), Samford is ranked No. 22 in this week's Sports Network media poll and is unranked in the coaches' poll.

Does Samford coach Pat Sullivan feel his team is getting enough respect?

"No, I don't, I'll just be honest," he said during Tuesday's SoCon coaches' teleconference. "Every coach talks about it, and we're certainly no different -- we're going to play one day at a time, one play at a time. But we've got a good football team and we're getting better."

The Bulldogs have played seven straight weeks and finally get a rest Saturday. Sullivan said his team had to have the break because as many as 13 players might not have been able to play this week.

'Safe' block

One might think that A.J. Hampton's punt block in the third quarter of last week's 31-9 win against Furman was the result of UTC spotting and exploiting a weakness in the Paladins' punt protection. It wasn't.

The Mocs actually were in the "punt safe" formation, which as the name implies is not an aggressive mode.

"Our two outside guys were just checking for fakes, and all we were telling A.J. to do was take care of that personal protector guy," Mocs coach Russ Huesman said.

Hampton said there wasn't much to the play.

"The dude didn't pick me up very good, so I went for it," he said after the game.

Hampton not only blocked the punt, he caught the ball in the air. UTC took over on the Furman 20-yard line and got a 35-yard Nick Pollard field goal out of the exchange, which put the Mocs up 24-6.

League leaders

The Mocs are halfway through their schedule and lead the SoCon in six team statistical categories and are second or third in 13 (not counting onside kicking stats, which few teams have).

UTC continues to lead the SoCon in scoring defense (18 points allowed per game) and total defense (303 yards allowed per game), as well as opponent first downs (15.7 per game). The Mocs' offense has converted a league-best 51.2 percent of its third downs into firsts.

The Mocs are last in the league in punting, with a net average of 35.3 yards. It's a stat that confuses Huesman, who said Pollard has done a good job for most of the season. UTC also is last in red-zone defense, allowing opponents to score (eight touchdowns, six field goals) on all 14 possessions inside the Mocs' 20-yard line.

Contact John Frierson at jfrierson@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6268. Follow him at twitter.com/MocsBeat.

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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