published Thursday, August 25th, 2011

Mocs making good use of extra practice hours

Austin Wilson, No. 54, pushes past Brandon Morgan, No. 73, during drills at Wednesday's practice. The UTC Mocs met for practice at Scrappy Moore Field on Wednesday afternoon to continue preparations for their Sept. 3 kickoff at Nebraska.
Austin Wilson, No. 54, pushes past Brandon Morgan, No. 73, during drills at Wednesday's practice. The UTC Mocs met for practice at Scrappy Moore Field on Wednesday afternoon to continue preparations for their Sept. 3 kickoff at Nebraska.
Photo by Jake Daniels.

Russ Huesman still runs his University of Tennessee at Chattanooga football team's practices with precision, checking his watch every few minutes to make sure the Mocs are staying on schedule.

When the horn sounds at the end of each period, the Mocs quickly move from one exercise to the next. Other than maybe a 30-second water break here and there, there is very little down time.

"Like today, all we had was 3 hours and 15 minutes for meetings and [practice], and we've got to make it work," Huesman said.

During his years as a defensive coordinator, Huesman said, he never kept track of time during practice.

"Shoot, I just kept going until somebody told me where to go," he said. "These guys [UTC's assistants] just keep going until I tell them where to go."

For the first time since the 2007 season, UTC has a full allotment of practice time at its disposal. The NCAA allows 20 hours of team activities a week during the season, but nobody on the Mocs' roster except the seniors have experienced that.

"We'll definitely notice [the extra time] in the meetings, preparing for each game each week," said fifth-year senior safety Chris Lewis-Harris. "And when we come out [to practice] we get more time to do individual [position drills] to work on our technique."

During the past three seasons, because of penalties handed down by the NCAA for poor Academic Progress Rate performance, the Mocs have been shorthanded in practice time, as well as scholarships. In 2008, UTC was allowed 18.0 hours per week and the past two seasons it had to squeeze everything into 16.0.

Also, last season, the Mocs had to limit team activities to five days a week. UTC took Fridays off, which meant the coaches weren't able to conduct walkthroughs. Instead, the captains elected to run them.

"Friday walkthroughs are going to be awesome," quarterback B.J. Coleman said. "It's really going to help us out a lot from last year to this year."

Younger Coleman out

Freshman tight end Jarrod Coleman will undergo surgery today to repair a torn labrum in his left shoulder and will redshirt this season. Jarrod, B.J.'s younger brother, will be out at least six months, but he said he expects to be cleared in time for spring practice.

Huesman said the Mocs are also hoping to redshirt freshman tight end Troy Dye.

Extra points

During Wednesday's "30 Minutes or Less" promotion, UTC sold 52 sets of season tickets, raising its total to 2,417. The school record is 2,678, set last season. ... The Southern Conference announced Wednesday that WABM-TV in Birmingham has agreed to broadcast the league's eight-game television package this season, joining PBS stations in Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina as SoCon broadcast partners.

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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328Kwebsite said...

We need to create a system that keeps those GPAs up, so that those players have a chance at a life after football. We know that under 2% will ever play ball again.

Once they leave UTC, their professional athletic careers are mostly over. We don't need to wreck our young people's lives with a bunch of irresponsible pressures over nothing but the entertainment of a game.

If we could find a way to only let them play for two years of a four year career, it'd provide them with a chance to heal and keep their lives in order. Keep them on the team for four years, but only field them for two seasons. It might actually increase the amount of exposure some of the players get. It might cut down on the brain damage from the head trauma. And, it might help safeguard their lives and stability in a way that's in line with the observable facts: that we don't need to damage students under the excuse of sports entertainment.

I'd like to see such a program instituted statewide. We need to get away from using our athletes as an entertainment industry. Get back to academics and athleticism. We can learn to manage this right in the future. Wrecking GPAs, sacrificing social stability and causing long-lasting physical damage to players just so that we can watch a touchdown while drinking a beer is not good enough for our state's university and college students.

Take care of the players by putting them on a successful track. Coaches who can't take the objective and take care of their people can get a job selling something else. The players will play a strong enough game to make us proud. Let's do it in the future in a way that doesn't institutionalize being stupid.

We expect to see victory for the Mocs on the field. We should require professionalism from the coaches and faculty in a way that shapes these players like any other student: all around. Don't wreck these kids over a recreational activity like football.

August 25, 2011 at 11:46 a.m.
obviously said...

328K, that's not gonna happen and sounds borderline ridiculous. As a former college football player, injuries and anything physically "dangerous" is just part of the game. You're willing to take that risk. I'm all for the GPA help or whatever, but keeping a kid on the team for four years, and only letting them play 2 is stupid. It's going to be hard to tell a superstar athlete to come and sit two years and only practice, then only play for two years.

August 25, 2011 at 1:24 p.m.
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