published Sunday, August 26th, 2012

UTC: Strengths and Concerns

Primary strengths

• The Mocs’ defensive line features the school’s all-time sack leader at one end, a rising star at the other end who could set a new record before he’s done and a five-guys inside group that can be dominant. Based on talent and personnel, UTC has no bigger strength than its defensive line. However, this projection still is based more on the potential of the inside guys, who didn’t always make their coaches happy during camp. Still, with Josh Williams and Davis Tull on the ends and Derrick Lott, Chris Mayes, Toyvian Brand, Keyon Reed and Josh Freeman splitting the snaps in the middle, it doesn’t get much stronger than that.

• UTC has some holes to fill from last season, but the Mocs also have loads of experienced talent all over the field. You can start with preseason first-team All-SoCon players in Williams, safety D.J. Key and linebacker Wes Dothard. Add in 2011 All-SoCon performers in cornerback Kadeem Wise and right tackle Adam Miller, as well as a big group of All-Freshman team members, including tight end Faysal Shafaat, and you’ve got a team that can make things happen.

• A quarterback controversy could cause all kinds of problems for the Mocs, but don’t look for that to happen. Terrell Robinson and Jacob Huesman, the head coach’s son who is nipping at Robinson’s heels, spent the summer working out together, studying video and the playbook together, and the competition has only brought them closer as friends. Both appear capable of leading the offense to a good season, and the fact that there’s two of them only makes things more problematic for defenses. Robinson has shown the SoCon what he can do, and Huesman will get his chance as well. And there could be all kinds of trickery when they play together, or very effective decoys.

Primary concerns

• The Mocs no longer are a pass-first team, as when B.J. Coleman was the quarterback. Still, UTC needs to have some weapons at wide receiver. Marlon Anthony is the only proven commodity, and consistency hasn’t been his trademark. There are some talented freshmen and sophomores who have shown the potential to be playmakers, including 6-4 freshman Tray James and sophomore Tommy Hudson, but the corps is going to have to grow up in a hurry.

• If UTC could have run the ball effectively on a consistent basis, especially in the second half, the Mocs would have finished much better than 5-6 and probably made the playoffs. As a team UTC averaged 144.4 rushing yards a game — a modest 3.5 yards per rush — and that was after the boost Robinson provided while filling in for Coleman. It’s hard to close out wins when you can’t run the ball with the lead. Until UTC proves it can, the team’s closing ability will be a question.

• Wes Dothard, Shane Heatherly and Gunner Miller make up a quality trio at linebacker. Dothard’s an All-American, Heatherly and Miller are proven starters and it’s a group that will make plays. However, UTC doesn’t have any experienced backups. Muhasibi Wakeel has played on some special teams but never has been in the thick of things. UTC is playing more nickel and dime formations, which should take some of the pressure off the linebackers.

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