published Tuesday, October 25th, 2011

UTC benefiting from turnovers

  • photo
    UTC defenders Wes Dothard, 25, and Ryan Consiglio catch up to Appalachian State's DeAndre Presley.
    Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

Forcing turnovers is good. Turning those turnovers into points is much, much better.

That's what the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga football team has done in its past two games, both wins, and what it didn't do in two of its three Southern Conference losses.

The Mocs (4-4, 2-3) forced a combined nine turnovers in their wins over Western Carolina and Elon. And in those games, which they won 51-7 and 42-18, the Mocs scored four touchdowns off turnovers in each.

"If you look at it, we've given our offense the ball [in good field position] multiple times, like a ton," UTC coach Russ Huesman said. "You can credit a lot of those points to the defense. But we're doing a better job in the red zone, getting the ball in the end zone."

Included in those touchdowns were three by the defense. Linebacker Ryan Consiglio and safety D.J. Key scored against WCU's Catamounts, and linebacker Gunner Miller returned an interception for a touchdown against Elon.

"We're focused on turnovers," said linebacker Wes Dothard, who forced a fumble at Elon. "We're trying to get three a day at practice, so that rolls over into the game."

In UTC's 14-12 loss at No. 5 Appalachian State and its 28-27 loss at top-ranked Georgia Southern, the Mocs failed to take advantage of turnovers.

Against ASU, the Mocs got just a field goal out of three turnovers. They had a chance to take an early lead at Georgia Southern after forcing an opening-drive fumble. The offense took over at the UTC 44-yard line but went three-and-out.

Dothard, Robinson again

Dothard and quarterback Terrell Robinson were among the SoCon players of the week Monday, each for the third time this season.

Robinson was named the freshman of the week for the third straight week, the first SoCon player to do so since Appalachian State quarterback Armanti Edwards in 2006. Against Elon, Robinson finished with 115 yards rushing and completed 11 of 13 passes for 140 yards and three touchdowns.

"I can't take all the credit," Robinson said after the game. "The offensive line was holding up and we're just getting together and growing as a team right now."

Former Georgia Southern great Adrian Peterson was the last freshman to be honored four straight weeks, picking up three top freshman awards and one for overall offensive player in 1999.

Dothard, who had 15 tackles against Elon, was named defensive player of the week after twice earning the honor in September. UTC has earned a school-record eight weekly awards this season. The program hadn't had a player earn three awards in a season since quarterback Chris Sanders did so in 1999.

The Mocs host Furman (4-3, 3-2) on Saturday. The Paladins' Jerodis Williams was named the top offensive player after rushing for 155 yards on 22 carries in their 26-21 upset of then-No. 4 Wofford.

Coleman resuming

Huesman said quarterback B.J. Coleman will begin throwing this week, something he hasn't done since suffering a sprained right shoulder at Georgia Southern on Oct. 8.

When Coleman returns he will resume his starting role -- Huesman has said that all along. Robinson will continue to get snaps, but how many remains to be seen.

"It will all depend on how it looks, how things are going. We haven't even gotten to that point yet," Huesman said. "We're going to see how [Coleman] progresses this week, and if it looks like he can play, then we'll start making those decisions."

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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