published Sunday, April 1st, 2012

Touches reduce UTC touchdowns in Blue & Gold game

Freshman-red shirt quarterback Jacob Huesman passes during UTC's annual Blue/Gold Spring football game Saturday at Finley Stadium.
Freshman-red shirt quarterback Jacob Huesman passes during UTC's annual Blue/Gold Spring football game Saturday at Finley Stadium.
Photo by Robin Rudd /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

Trailing the White squad 13-10 with less than two minutes to play Saturday at Finley Stadium, Terrell Robinson appeared to run the ball in for a 7-yard score that would have put the Blue in front.

The White (first-team defense) got only a hand on the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga quarterback -- but a hand was all that was needed to stop the quarterbacks in the Mocs' Blue and Gold spring game. Quarterbacks Jacob Huesman, Graham Nichols and Robinson played in red (no-contact) jerseys, which basically turned football into two-hand touch for them.

"They kind of took my game away when I found out this morning that I was going to have to wear the red jersey," Robinson said. "It's part of the game. It forced me to stay [in the pocket] more and make throws."

Throughout the spring the quarterbacks practiced and scrimmaged without the red jerseys, meaning they were fair game for the defense. Coach Russ Huesman said he put the quarterbacks in red to protect them from injury as spring practices comes to a close (UTC's final practice is Wednesday). It didn't work.

Nichols, who began the day as quarterback of the White (second-string offense), wasn't in for much more than a series before a collision with running back Kenny Huitt left Nichols with a broken nose.

There were a couple of Robinson red-zone runs late in the scrimmage that likely would have resulted in touchdowns, but because he was touched by a defender the plays were called dead short of the goal line. On fourth down from the 1-yard line, Robinson's fade pass to Marlon Anthony in the right corner of the end zone was too high.

In the Mocs' new spread offense, the quarterback is another running back much of the time. With Robinson and the younger Huesman in red, and the offense limited to a more vanilla playbook, the offense wasn't at its most dynamic -- and that helped the defense, linebacker Shane Heatherly said.

"It helped a lot, especially down there on the goal line," Heatherly said.

With Nichols out the rest of the scrimmage, Jacob Huesman and Robinson were busier than expected. The coach's son finished 10-of-16 for 188 yards and two touchdowns. Robinson was 14-of-26 for 100 yards and an interception.

Linebacker Wes Dothard picked off the Robinson pass and returned it 37 yards for the standout defensive play. There were also several goal-line stands that forced the offenses to settle for Nick Pollard field goals.

"We couldn't really do things differently because the quarterback couldn't run," defensive coordinator Adam Fuller said. "We just had to line up and play."

Dothard was named the defensive MVP and the offensive MVP was the 6-foot-5 Anthony, who had six catches for 100 yards and a touchdown. The touchdown came on a 5-yard fade in the back left corner of the end zone.

"I did tell myself before we came out, 'I want to get the MVP,'" said Anthony, who also had a 52-yard reception.

The defenses didn't give up much on the ground after Marquis Green broke free for a 42-yard gain early in the game. Green finished with 78 yards on 13 carries, Huitt had 29 yards on seven carries and J.J. Jackson gained 19 yards on seven carries. Huitt (concussion) and Keon Williams (leg) left the game with injuries, and Chris Awuah didn't play because of an ankle injury.

Defensively, backup linebackers C.J. Murrell (seven) and Muhasibi Wakeel (six) had the most tackles. End Josh Williams had a sack and was disruptive throughout.

The captains for next season, as voted on by the players, were announced after the game. The four players picked were Heatherly, Jackson, right tackle Adam Miller and safety D.J. Key. The Bob Davis Winter Warrior award was given to defensive end Davis Tull.

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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