Call them "receiver backs," or something like that.
"Why, because my receiving average is better than my rushing average?" University of Tennessee at Chattanooga senior J.J. Jackson asked.
Well ... shouldn't it be?
In UTC's ever-evolving offense, running backs Jackson and Marquis Green often make more of an impact as receivers than as rushers out of the backfield. They're at their most dangerous when they get some space, and it's easier to do that via pass than run.
Also, lining up the backs at receiver is just one more wrinkle in an offense that is starting to look like a Shar Pei. (That's the dog whose skin looks three sizes too big.)
"There are so many possibilities that it keeps the defense guessing," quarterback Jacob Huesman said of the offense.
UTC will try to keep Samford (5-2, 3-2 SoCon) guessing at 6 tonight at Finley Stadium.
All season long the plan has been to get the 5-foot-7, 175-pound Green the ball out in space. He's about as quick as anyone in the Southern Conference, but he's not exactly built for running over people. The plan hit some bumps -- Green didn't play in UTC's win at The Citadel -- but the Mocs (3-3, 2-1) made sure to get the sophomore involved last week at Furman.
Green had one rush, for 3 yards, and caught five passes for 53, including a short completion that he turned into a 26-yard gain by bouncing off defenders and making people miss.
"It's a challenge," Green said of his new role, "but I think I can handle it. I'm just trying to work these routes and get out in space a little more."
Green has 19 carries this season and is averaging 5.3 yards per rush. He's averaged 8.1 yards on his eight receptions.
The 5-9, 200-pound Jackson has averaged only 1.9 yards on his 34 carries. As a receiver, he has 159 yards on 13 catches.
Against The Citadel, Jackson had three catches and one run. Against Furman, he had seven carries, including a 10-yard touchdown run, and made some huge plays in the passing game. Of his three catches, one screen went for 31 yards and another for 22.
"I've always taken pride in trying to be that back that can catch and make something happen," Jackson said. "I can't really compare it to running against a defense, but every yard counts."
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 ...