published Thursday, September 29th, 2011

Mocs looking for TDs in red zone

Points have been rather hard to come by in the past two games for the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga football team.

The 17th-ranked Mocs (2-2, 0-1 Southern Conference) scored 23 in their win at Eastern Kentucky on Sept. 17 and managed just 12 at No. 3 Appalachian State last week. They won with the former and lost with the latter.

When the offense isn't making many big plays, and UTC's hasn't the past two weeks, it puts a premium on every trip inside the red zone. That should be the case Saturday when the Mocs host The Citadel (1-2, 0-2), which is allowing just 14.3 points per game.

"Any team we play, we have to be able to put the ball in the end zone when we're in the red zone," quarterback B.J. Coleman said. "We've got to be able to run the ball inside the red zone, and it's all based off of being able to execute. We've got to get better at it."

The Mocs got two rushing touchdowns in the red zone in their 23-14 win at Eastern Kentucky and finished 4-for-4 on drives inside the 20-yard line.

Last week, the Mocs were 3-for-5, but only scored one touchdown and got nothing on the ground. There were missed opportunities that came back to bite them in the 14-12 loss to the Mountaineers.

In the first quarter, UTC got to the ASU 18-yard line, where Nick Pollard missed a 35-yard field goal. In the second, UTC had a first-and-goal at the ASU 6 but had to settle for a 22-yard field goal and a 3-0 lead.

Late in the third quarter, UTC had a first down at the ASU 4 and again failed to get a touchdown. Pollard's 22-yarder did give UTC a 6-0 lead, but that wasn't going to be enough.

"We've got to get touchdowns," Mocs coach Russ Huesman said after Wednesday's practice. "When you get the ball at the 4-yard line, you have to score. That's the bottom line."

UTC forced a turnover on the ensuing ASU possession and soon had a first down at the 15. But that drive ended with the game-changing fumble return for a touchdown that gave ASU the lead.

The Mocs kept trying the fade pass to Marlon Anthony in the red zone, essentially a lob into the corner of the end zone, but were never successful.

"We need to get a lot better at it," offensive coordinator Marcus Satterfield said. "To be 0-for-3 with a [6-foot-5] receiver and an NFL quarterback, we need to keep working on that, for sure."

The Citadel has had its issues in the red zone, as well. The Bulldogs have gotten points on 6 of 9 trips, the lowest percentage in the SoCon. In its 18-15 overtime loss at Elon last week, The Citadel had a first-and-goal at the Elon 9 and came away with nothing after missing a 20-yard field goal.

Extra points

Wide receiver Jeff Veres (thumb, ankle) returned to practice Wednesday, while fullback Taharin Tyson (ribs, hip) sat out for the second straight day. ... Huesman said defensive tackle Keyon Reed remains suspended and will not play Saturday.

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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