The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga offense was dynamic and dominant against Jacksonville State in the second game of the season. Last week against Furman, the ninth game in as many weeks for the Mocs, the offense was ineffective and at times incapable.
There have been a multitude of ups and downs in between. It's been that kind of season for UTC.
"It's probably the most frustrating of my young career so far," said offensive coordinator Marcus Satterfield, who added that he's had to learn to be patient and "don't freak out, don't panic."
To make matters worse, the Mocs (4-5, 2-4 Southern Conference) head to Samford (5-3, 3-3) on Saturday with uncertainty at quarterback. B.J. Coleman is still recovering from a sprained shoulder and hardly practiced after Tuesday, while backup Terrell Robinson has a minor foot injury that has limited his practice time.
Both players are questionable for Saturday, which could force Graham Nichols into the starting role for the first time. Nichols is 3-for-4 for minus-4 yards passing this season.
"They've all got a shot to be healthy. At least that's the good thing," Mocs coach Russ Huesman said. "Nobody's to a point where we say, 'Oh, man,' but we'll see."
A year ago, UTC finished the season ranked No. 11 in the Football Championship Subdivision in total offense with 430 yards per game. This season, the Mocs rank No. 89 with 326.1 a game.
The Mocs had 508 yards of offense against Jacksonville State. Coleman threw for 296 and UTC rushed for 212. Overall the offense hasn't been nearly as productive since, but it has been unpredictable.
"We've had to adjust to a lot of things," freshman running back Marquis Green said.
In eight games against FCS opponents, UTC has three with more than 200 yards rushing and two with 56 or fewer. At the same time, the passing game's high was Coleman's 296 and the low was Robinson's 3 yards last week, when UTC had a season-low 169 yards of offense.
Some of those fluctuations are due to the differences between Coleman and Robinson as quarterbacks, which forced Satterfield to shuffle game plans and forced the rest of the offense into different roles.
"I would never have thought it would be like this, but the only thing we can do offensively is just go out there and have fun and play ball," said senior wide receiver Joel Bradford, who has a team-high 45 catches for 603 yards. "You've just got to keep rolling with the punches and make something out of it."
The Mocs' young offensive line has had its share of ups and downs, as well, which have affected the rest of the offense. The line had a very rough outing against Furman, prompting Huesman after the game to describe it as a "sieve."
"We always just want to get back on track because we didn't play well offensively, so it is a little bit of redemption [this week]," right guard Kevin Revis said. "We just have to continue what we've been trying to do all season -- play physical and play good regardless of who's the quarterback."
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 ...