published Tuesday, September 13th, 2011

Mocs surge in FCS polls

UTC's Joel Bradford (4) is pulled down by Jacksonville State's A.J. Davis after making a pass reception at Finley Stadium Saturday.
UTC's Joel Bradford (4) is pulled down by Jacksonville State's A.J. Davis after making a pass reception at Finley Stadium Saturday.
Photo by Robin Rudd /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga football team apparently earned a lot of respect with last Saturday's 38-17 win over then-No. 10 Jacksonville State.

The Mocs (1-1) made big jumps in both major Football Championship Subdivision Top 25 polls, which were released Monday. UTC moved up nine places to No. 14 in the Sports Network poll and eight spots to No. 17 in the FCS coaches' poll.

"No opinion -- just want to keep winning," Mocs coach Russ Huesman said when asked about the ascent. "Just win games and then see where you are at the end of this whole thing."

The No. 14 ranking is the program's highest since September 1992, when UTC reached No. 9 after opening the season with wins against Boise State (then a member of the FCS) and UT-Martin. The Mocs didn't win another game that season.

Huesman votes in the coaches' poll and said he spends about an hour each Sunday afternoon going over the previous day's results. He said he doesn't talk about the rankings with his team and doesn't know if his players pay much attention to the polls.

"Maybe I should, I don't know," he said.

Georgia Southern moved from No. 2 to the top spot in both polls after defending national champion Eastern Washington was defeated. Appalachian State remained at No. 3 in each, and Wofford is at No. 8 in the coaches' list and No. 9 in the Sports Network poll.

The Mocs' opponent Saturday, Eastern Kentucky (1-1), is receiving votes in both polls.

Two Mocs honored

UTC wide receiver Joel Bradford and middle linebacker Wes Dothard were Southern Conference players of the week.

Bradford was named the offensive player of the week for the third time in the past two seasons after tying his career high with 15 receptions against JSU. He had 162 yards and a touchdown.

"I don't feel like I catch that many balls," Bradford said after the game.

He has 19 receptions for 209 yards in two games. He's second in the SoCon in catches and third in yardage.

Dothard earned his first top-defensive-player honor for making five stops and returning a win-sealing interception 30 yards for a touchdown in the fourth quarter. He also had a forced fumble, a pass break-up and a quarterback hurry.

"Any time you get recognized, it's good for the whole program," Huesman said. "Wes deserves it. He's playing good and doing a nice job."

Eastern Kentucky had three players among the Ohio Valley Conference weekly honorees, including Red Bank graduate Jeremy Caldwell as co-specialist of the week. He set up one touchdown in the 28-24 win over Missouri State with a 23-yard fumble return and made an 88-yard dash for the third kick-return TD of his EKU career.

Colonels linebacker Ichiro Vance was the OVC defensive player of the week with 19 tackles (nine solo) and a forced fumble, and junior transfer running back Jeremiah Williams was the newcomer of the week after running for 119 yards and two touchdowns.

Extra points

Mocs defensive tackle Nick Davison (knee) is questionable for Saturday's game. "I'd say probably Wednesday or Thursday we'll have a better idea of where he is with everything," Huesman said. The senior from Calhoun, Ga., went down early in the fourth quarter while helping make a sack. ... UTC is planning a bus trip for fans to Saturday's game. For more information, call (423) 425-4233.

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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