published Wednesday, September 11th, 2013

Chattanooga Mocs seeking consistent running game

UTC head coach Russ Huesman shouts to defensive lineman Josh Freeman (95) on the sidelines.
UTC head coach Russ Huesman shouts to defensive lineman Josh Freeman (95) on the sidelines.
Photo by Doug Strickland /Chattanooga Times Free Press.
  • photo
    UTC quarterback 14 Jacob Huesman runs a keeper play past Georgia State lineman for a second half touch down at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta on in this file photo. The Mocs won 42-14.
    Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

The question was this: Which was more impressive in the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga football team's 42-14 rout of Georgia State last Saturday, rushing for 401 yards or holding the Panthers to 30 on 17 carries?

"I think rushing for 400 yards. We haven't done that before in our whole time here," fifth-year Mocs coach Russ Huesman said Tuesday. "We've held a lot of people to 30 yards rushing."

The Mocs held five teams under 100 yards rushing last season, including South Florida, Furman and Samford. Division II Glenville State gained just 17 on 21 carries; Furman had 39 yards on 19 attempts.

Offensively, UTC got some big running games in 2012 from quarterback Jacob Huesman -- he had four with 109 or more yards and led UTC for the season with 904 on 195 attempts -- but as a team the Mocs also rushed for 133 or fewer yards six times.

Kenny Huitt ran for 137 yards in the Mocs' win at Western Carolina last season, becoming the team's first running back with an 100-yard game since Erroll Wynn gained 100 against Samford in 2010.

Keon Williams rushed for 147 yards and a touchdown on 20 carries against Georgia State. Backup Derrick Craine gained 53 on six carries, and Marquis Green had 43 yards on nine rushes.

"We haven't established the running backs in the past," Coach Huesman said. "You want to do it -- sometimes you can get it done -- and I think it gave our guys some confidence that we can block people, we can hand the ball off to our guys and let them run the football. And take some of the pressure off of our quarterbacks."

The Mocs will continue to use Jacob Huesman and Terrell Robinson as running quarterbacks -- they combined for 131 yards on 16 carries last week -- but the coach doesn't want them to be the primary rushers.

"You hope to get 16 carries out of that position, and you hope that your yards per carry are pretty good," he said.

If Williams runs Saturday against Austin Peay, and beyond, like he did against the Panthers, and the line continues to be physical and open lanes, the Mocs' ground attack could remain formidable as the level of competition increases.

After two weeks, Williams ranks second in the Southern Conference in rushing with 93.5 yards per game, and quarterback Huesman is fourth with 87. Jacob is third in passing with 155 yards per game and has a league-high five touchdown passes. He also leads the SoCon in total offense with 242 yards per game.

Mocs All-SoCon tight end Faysal Shafaat is tied for the league lead with four touchdowns (out of six receptions).

UTC opened the season with a scoreless first half in its 31-21 loss to UT-Martin, a half in which the Mocs ran for 77 yards and gained a total of 134. In the six quarters of play since, UTC has scored 63 points, rushed for 466 yards and gained a total of 743.

"Offensively they do a good job on the ground and they throw it very well," Austin Peay coach Kirby Cannon said during Tuesday's Ohio Valley Conference teleconference. "I think the key to slowing them down is through the quarterback; they have an outstanding back, also. But I think if we can limit some of their options and see if we can't force them into being a little more one-dimensional offensively, then I think we've got a chance to control their offense. I don't think you're going to shut them down."

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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