Simple is better. At least the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga football team hopes so.
In an effort to help the offense, especially the rushing attack that has managed just 88 yards in its last two games, the 23rd-ranked Mocs are going to simplify what they do this week as they prepare to face top-ranked Georgia Southern.
"Defensively we're very simple. Offensively we probably need to be more simple, especially in the running game," coach Russ Huesman said. "Get good at certain things and not average at a bunch of things. Average gets you 1 or 2 yards."
In the Southern Conference, the Mocs (2-3, 0-2) rank last in rushing with 92 yards a game. They ranked No. 11 in the country in total offense last season with 430 yards per game, and this season they're 70th at 345.2.
UTC is younger on offense this season, especially in the line, and Huesman said the "scope of plays and things we were doing was too big."
Simplifying the offense, wide receiver Joel Bradford said, means "condense [the playbook], find the things you do well and run them."
Sounds easy enough.
The Mocs' inability to move the ball in the second half last week played a pivotal role in allowing The Citadel to rally from a 27-0 hole to win 28-27. UTC didn't convert a third down in the second half and managed just 57 yards in the final two quarters.
"It's the most frustrating experience of my life," offensive coordinator Marcus Satterfield said of the second half.
The Mocs don't have a big running back like they did last season in Erroll Wynn and Keon Williams. Wynn has graduated and Williams is suspended for the season, so UTC is relying on smaller ball-carriers J.J. Jackson, Chris Awuah and Marquis Green -- and Jackson and Awuah have been slowed by injuries.
"We had some backs on our team last year that were able to get dirty with it and get their pads down and take a crease and go for 4 yards to get us to second-and-6," Satterfield said. "Right now, we've got to get our guys healthy and get them going north and south and gaining an extra 2 or 3 yards.
"Instead of second-and-8, get it to second-and-6."
Satterfield said the offense still is searching for its identity, which isn't ideal heading into the sixth game of a season.
"We're going into the middle of the season and we have no idea what we are yet," he said. "We know that we're not a power running team, but we don't really have a lot to hang our hat on, and we've got to figure out what that is."
Georgia Southern (4-0, 3-0) has the No. 2 rushing defense in the country, allowing only 57yards a game, so the running backs probably aren't going to put up a 200-yard game this week. The good news for UTC is that the Eagles' pass defense is, statistically, the worst in the SoCon.
The Eagles are giving up 271.2 yards a game through the air. However, they're tied for sixth in the nation with 14 sacks and tied for seventh with eight interceptions.
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 ...