published Tuesday, October 4th, 2011

Mocs still confident in ability

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    Staff Photo by Angela Lewis
    UTC coach Russ Huesman

There is no sugarcoating what's happened to the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga football team the past two weeks.

The Mocs lost one game they could have won, at Appalachian State, and lost a game they most definitely should have won this past Saturday at home against The Citadel.

A couple of mistakes doomed UTC in its 14-12 loss to the Mountaineers, and a mountain of miscues helped the Bulldogs rally from a 27-point third-quarter deficit to win 28-27.

UTC coach Russ Huesman said the past two games haven't changed the team's goals or his confidence in the players.

"I truly believe that they believe we've got good enough players to win," he said Monday. "I think they've got confidence in their abilities, so that's a good thing. If we were sitting here like this without a very good football team, I'd have concerns. But I think we've got a good team."

To get to the Football Championship Subdivision playoffs, the Mocs (2-3, 0-2 Southern Conference) must win five of their last six games to be considered for an at-large bid. Immediately pressing is this week's game at Georgia Southern (4-0, 3-0), which remains No. 1 in both major FCS polls.

UTC, meanwhile, dropped six spots to No. 23 in the FCS coaches' poll and fell eight places to No. 24 in The Sports Network's media poll. The Mocs are the only team with a losing record ranked in either poll.

"Now we've got to fight," safety Jordan Tippit said. "We've got to do what we've got to do."

The Mocs need only look at what Georgia Southern did last season for some evidence that a disappointing stretch doesn't have to be a season killer.

Georgia Southern was 4-4 on Oct. 30 last season after losing to a Samford team that would finish 4-7. The Eagles beat No. 1 Appalachian State the following week, won their final two regular-season games to earn a playoff spot and then advanced all the way to the national semifinals.

"They kept fighting, they got better every week and the next thing you know ... they're in the semifinals," UTC offensive coordinator Marcus Satterfield said.

The Mocs' offense was rolling in the first half last Saturday. UTC had 24 points, 10 first downs and 252 yards. Poor play-calling on his part, Satterfield said, led to a dismal second half.

Going with conservative plays after an interception of a B.J. Coleman pass led to The Citadel's first touchdown, the offense struggled to move the ball. UTC managed just four first downs in the second half and went 0-for-6 on turning third downs into firsts.

"My thing to them was, you can't let what I did, from a conservative standpoint, control what you think you are," Satterfield said he told the offense Sunday. "You've got to go into [the next game] confident that you've still got the tools to do it."

Defensive coordinator Adam Fuller didn't have to say much to his group Sunday. He saw a confident defense that "knew they let one slip" against The Citadel.

"When I looked at our kids," he said, "they looked like they just wanted to go out and play."

Extra points

Coleman (ankle) may be a little limited in practice this week, Huesman said, but he'll be ready to play Saturday. ... Georgia Southern leads the SoCon in total offense with 498 yards per game, and UTC is first in total defense at 274.6.

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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