There was too much of nearly everything coach Russ Huesman didn't want to see Friday during the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga football team's first preseason practice.
There were offensive and defensive miscues and a lack of pep among the Mocs. And by the time the team was running at the end, several players were dealing with cramps and numerous others looked wiped out on a humid but 85-degree afternoon at Scrappy Moore Field.
"We've got a bunch of them that are in great shape and it's important to them," said Huesman, who is 17-16 entering his fourth season. "We've got too many good ones that we're counting on that haven't done what they're supposed to do and get themselves into the type of shape that they're supposed to.
"And I hope that doesn't come back to bite us in the behind."
Men's basketball coaches are allowed to work with their players for two hours a week in the summer, if the players are in summer school and on track to graduate, thanks to a new NCAA provision. Football coaches, however, can't do anything with their players until practice begins.
"I'm very, very concerned," Huesman said, "and there isn't anything we can do about it but run them out here in camp, like back to the old days, because the NCAA doesn't allow you to make them do a thing during the summertime."
Linebacker Wes Dothard hasn't always started camp in the best of shape, but that's not the case this time for the junior who was a 2011 Sports Network first-team All-American and has been named to two preseason All-America second teams.
"This is the strongest I've been and the best shape I've been in," said Dothard, who had 98 tackles last season, including 15.5 for loss.
Dothard knew what to expect from Friday's first practice. It was a new experience for freshman linebacker Alex Kirby, a former all-state player at Calhoun (Ga.) High School.
Kirby came to Chattanooga for summer workouts and said he felt ready for what the coaches were going to throw at him.
"It was really hard, but it wasn't as hard as I thought it was going to be," Kirby said. "It was rough, though, a lot rougher than high school."
On his last day in the office before taking over as the athletic director at Southern Methodist University, Rick Hart stopped by practice for a while. Hart said the turnaround of the football program, which won a combined six games during his first three years as the Mocs' AD, is one of things he's most proud of from his six years at UTC.
"It's really the coaching staff and the approach they take," Hart said. "I'd want my son to play for these guys. Just to know that we have that quality of people here and the excitement around the program. There's some pride, for sure, and I hate that I'm going to miss this season."
Several players sat out all or part of practice due to injury or illness. Only freshman tight end Troy Dye (knee) is expected to be out for several weeks. ... The Mocs practice again this morning at 7:45.
John Frierson is in his fifth year at the Times Free Press and fifth 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 ...