published Sunday, August 28th, 2011

UTC: 3 reasons for big expectations, 3 reasons for big worries

In this file photo, UTC's Joel Bradford looks for running room in the Eastern Kentucky secondary after catching a pass.
In this file photo, UTC's Joel Bradford looks for running room in the Eastern Kentucky secondary after catching a pass.
Photo by Robin Rudd.

BIG EXPECTATIONS

1 — This is the last go-round for quarterback B.J. Coleman and All-American wide receiver Joel Bradford, who have been tormenting defenses since their days at McCallie- Bradford had a record-breaking season in 2010 and should again be one of the top receivers in the country. Coleman is rated among the top 15 quarterback prospects heading into next year’s NFL draft and appears poised for a big senior season.

2 — The defense took its share of lumps in 2010, especially toward the end of the season, but with eight returning starters the Mocs have more experience and more depth- A healthy Josh Williams at defensive end will make a difference in UTC’s pass rush, while the secondary has preseason All-SoCon picks in safety Chris Lewis-Harris and cornerback Kadeem Wise.

3 — After back to back 6-5 seasons, and with a starting lineup that features a lot of all-conference caliber seniors, it’s time for the Mocs to take the next step forward. UTC was a couple of plays and a healthy kicker away from taking that step last season, but came up short. They’ve used that disappointment as offseason motivation and appear more prepared than ever for a breakthrough season.

BIG WORRIES

1 — The Mocs’ schedule is one of the toughest in the FCS and there’s no margin for error this season. To have a shot at the SoCon title and the playoffs, UTC will have to survive a very tough opening stretch that features road games at Nebraska, Eastern Kentucky and Appalachian State, as well as a home game against Jacksonville State- Splitting those four games won’t be an easy task.

2 — UTC’s coaches are very optimistic about their young players, but they’re still young. With as many as 20 true and redshirt freshmen being counted on to start or play a lot of snaps this season, combined with the tough schedule, a lot of first-timers will be learning on the job in pressure-packed situations.

3 — The offense has quite a few weapons, but they can’t be utilized without quality play from the offensive line. The Mocs are replacing a trio of three-year starters on the offensive front and will open the season with a redshirt freshman at left tackle and a true or redshirt freshman at center- It’s a talented group that should be solid by midseason, but the line needs to be in midseason form quicker than that.

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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