published Monday, August 22nd, 2011

Mocs take stock: Huesman primarily positive about UTC

Adam Miller, left, and J.J. Jackson charge up the field during a recent UTC football practice.
Adam Miller, left, and J.J. Jackson charge up the field during a recent UTC football practice.
Photo by Alex Washburn /Chattanooga Times Free Press.
  • photo
    UTC quarterback B.J. Coleman acknowledges the crowd's cheers in this file photo.

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Mocs quarterback B.J. Coleman

After a walkthrough Sunday and a day completely away from football today, the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga needs to, in quarterback B.J. Coleman's words, "come back Tuesday and get ready to rock and roll."

With the Sept. 3 opener at Nebraska now less than two weeks away, the bulk of the Mocs' preseason preparation is behind them. Offensively, wide receiver Joel Bradford said, the Mocs have "got to start getting crisp."

That should be easier to achieve with fresh legs, something the players haven't had since practice began on Aug. 4.

"We've got everything out on the table and now we've just got to make things a lot more crisp and execute better," the All-American said. "I think the crispness -- us being able to execute -- will come with energy."

Following Saturday's 92-play scrimmage, in which the defense allowed just three field goals, Mocs coach Russ Huesman analyzed the state of his team. He was positive about a lot of areas and concerned about others.

The good:

• On defense, Huesman said he likes what he's seeing from the line, linebackers and the secondary. All three groups have athletic guys, some more experienced than others, who are making plays in the preseason. And they have backups that are ready to contribute.

• On offense, the running backs have impressed Huesman. J.J. Jackson and Chris Awuah are the lead backs who have been effective running and receiving. Huesman also said true freshman Marquis Green, a 5-foot-7 bundle of speed, is playing well.

As for Coleman, Huesman said he's making plays but he can also raise his game.

"I think B.J.'s got to continue to improve, and I think he's got to continue to make plays," Huesman said. "He's got to continue to lead, and he's got two weeks to get better, too. He hasn't arrived."

The not-so-good:

• More than any other position, and this was probably to be expected after losing three starters, the offensive line remains the team's biggest question mark. The group struggled in the run and pass games during Saturday's scrimmage.

"I stand back behind [the offense]," Huesman said, "and there weren't a lot of holes [to run through]. There weren't a lot of holes at all and that's a concern. ... If we were playing tomorrow I'd be really concerned, but we're not."

• One thing Huesman and offensive coordinator Marcus Satterfield agreed on after the game was that Bradford can't be UTC's only big-play threat at receiver. Marlon Anthony wasn't a factor in the scrimmage, nor were freshmen Tommy Hudson and Ron Moore.

"We need one of those guys, other than Joel, that can take it the distance," Huesman said.

On the offense's first drive of the scrimmage, Coleman hit Bradford for completions of 16 and 18 yards, with two short receptions by Sloan Allison in between. On third-and-4 at the 13-yard line, defensive coordinator Adam Fuller really liked what happened next -- cornerback Kadeem Wise intercepted a pass intended for Bradford.

"The good thing was momentum, the thing we struggled with last year," Fuller said. "If there were bad plays on top of bad plays [in 2010], usually they scored. [Saturday], Kadeem picked one -- maybe it's luck, maybe it's not -- but at least somebody answered right there."

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

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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