A football season that started badly and only got worse for the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga will come to a close Saturday against Samford at Finley Stadium. About the only thing at stake for the Mocs is avoiding a dubious place in school history.
With last Saturday’s 24-21 Southern Conference loss at The Citadel, this year’s team joined the 2002 team (2-10) as the only ones with 10 losses in a season. If the Mocs (1-10, 0-7) lose to Samford (5-5, 3-4), it will be the first 11-loss season in 101 seasons of football at UTC.
Rodney Allison, whose six-year run as the Mocs’ coach ends Saturday, said this team never was able to play up to its potential.
“For some reason it never happened, and I think there are a couple of reasons that are well documented,” said Allison, who has a record of 17-50. “The reality of it: Injuries killed us, they did; number two, the schedule killed us.
“With those two factors involved starting out ... something set in that, whether it was confidence, whether it was knowing how to win — whatever it was, it didn’t happen.”
Regardless of the reasons for the Mocs’ 10th losing season in the past 11 years, the numbers from this season are among the worst in the nation and worst in school history.
Of the 17 statistical categories that the NCAA tracks, UTC has an average ranking of 97.7, out of 118 FCS teams. In the four big categories — scoring offense, total offense, scoring defense, total defense — the Mocs are 115th in total offense, 113th in scoring offense, 112th in total defense and 113th in scoring defense.
Those are bad, but not as bad as 0-11 Indiana State of the Missouri Valley Conference, which has an average of 100.2 and ranks dead last in six categories. Among their peers in the Southern Conference, however, the Mocs rank last in 11 categories, including rushing offense and defense.
The Mocs have rushed for 840 yards. The last time UTC ran for fewer than 1,000 yards in a season was in 1973, Joe Morrison’s first season as coach, when the team finished with 878 during a 4-7 season.
The Mocs have scored 146 points this season, an average of 13.3 per game. Without a barrage of points against the Bulldogs, UTC will have its lowest scoring average since 1984, when Buddy Nix’s first team averaged just 12.7 during a 6-5 season in which it was shut out three times.
This team is better than the numbers it has put up, cornerback Buster Skrine said, citing the loss to The Citadel as proof.
“We know we can compete with the teams in our league,” Skrine said. “If you look at The Citadel’s schedule, they barely lost a lot of their games and we barely lost to them. We should have won the game, and we know we’re better than we’ve shown in most of our games.”
The Mocs have one final chance to prove it.
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 ...