published Sunday, March 4th, 2012

New UTC assistants catching up fast

New assistant football coach Thomas Brown works with running backs during a recent UTC practice at the Scrappy Moore practice facility.
New assistant football coach Thomas Brown works with running backs during a recent UTC practice at the Scrappy Moore practice facility.
Photo by John Rawlston /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

Two weeks ago, Adam Braithwaite didn't know the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga's football players and they didn't know him. He's now a week into spring practice as the Mocs' safeties coach..

Such is the must-catch-on-quick life of an assistant coach.

"It's just been a ton of learning," said Braithwaite, who was the safeties coach at Michigan in 2010 and the defensive coordinator at NAIA member Christopher Newport University last season. "I've got to pick up not only the schemes that we're doing, but the way the whole program operates. Every program is a little bit different, so just getting the routine is important."

Braithwaite is one of four new assistants on Russ Huesman's UTC staff. The other three are on offense: running backs coach Thomas Brown, offensive line coach Alex Atkins and tight ends coach Wesley Satterfield.

Huesman said he likes the new guys, all of whom were hired within a few days of each other in late February. Despite so little time from their first days on the job to the start of spring practice last Monday, Huesman said he hasn't noticed any problems.

"I think they're all doing a great job," he said.

Brown, Braithwaite and Satterfield have only a few players to get to know, while Atkins has more than a dozen offensive linemen to acquaint himself with and instruct.

"I've got the names down, which is good," Atkins joked.

The Mocs return all five line starters and have several experienced backups, so that has made his job a little easier.

"I'm having fun and everything's been pretty easy so far," said Atkins, a former All-America lineman at UT-Martin. "It's been a quick adjustment, but I've got some guys that have been well coached and that has made it easy."

This is the first coaching job for Brown, the former Georgia running back who was on the Cleveland Browns' practice squad as recently as 2009 and still looks like he could rush for 2,000 yards a season.

Brown said he's putting in long hours learning the offense and evaluating his players, but his top concern now is making sure they understand the Mocs' new spread-style system.

"I'm a grinder -- I was as a player and I'll be the same way as a coach -- and the first thing for me was to understand the offense, before I go teach the rest of the players," he said. "The first evaluation I do with guys is, do you know what to do? If you don't know the plays, don't know what to do, I can't figure out how good you are."

The Mocs have four tight ends on their roster and two of them, Faysal Shafaat (back) and Jarrod Coleman (ankle), are sidelined with injuries, leaving Satterfield with only Sean Stackhouse and Troy Dye to work with each day.

Extra points

The Mocs went through their fourth practice of the spring Saturday morning. Huesman said it was a good session that included some scrimmaging toward the end. ... Defensive end Josh Williams did not practice after taking a shot to the head Friday. ... The Mocs will practice Monday afternoon at Scrappy Moore Field and scrimmage Wednesday at Finley Stadium.

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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