published Saturday, April 13th, 2013

Top UTC defenders still shine

UTC quarterback Jacob Huesman tries to avoid defenders during a scrimmage Friday at Finley Stadium.
UTC quarterback Jacob Huesman tries to avoid defenders during a scrimmage Friday at Finley Stadium.
Photo by Angela Lewis /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

Davis Tull was on the field for six plays Friday during the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga's second scrimmage of spring football. He might have worked up more of a sweat coaching the Mocs' young defensive ends than he did actually playing.

But that doesn't mean the 2012 Southern Conference defensive player of the year didn't make the most of his six plays. In fact, he had two sacks and a quarterback pressure.

"I think me and [linebacker Gunner Miller] might have shared one, too, so you might say 2.5 sacks," said Tull, who set a UTC record with 12.5 sacks last season. "It was fun."

When he and the rest of the first-team offense were on the field, which wasn't for long, they made plays. Two other All-SoCon defenders, linebacker Wes Dothard and cornerback Kadeem Wise, played 10 plays each, while defensive tackle Derrick Lott sat out part of the scrimmage as well.

Coach Russ Huesman likes the talent, both young and old, that he has on defense, but he said it's time for the inexperienced players to show more improvement. Primarily against the backups, but not exclusively, the Mocs' offense was able to spring some big plays.

"They're going to have to grow up faster than what they've done," Huesman said. "We're at practice 11, and I think they should be better than what they are."

Tull and freshman ends Vantrell McMillan (3) and Keionta Davis (2) all were busy getting sacks. Tull lined up exclusively at left end the past two seasons, but he was on the right side Friday -- and he was going up against freshman left tackle Corey Levin. Not exactly a fair fight.

"If we were game-planning offensively, we'd never let that matchup occur," Huesman said.

The defense forced the quarterbacks out of the pocket often and had numerous tackles for loss but didn't force a turnover.

Offensively, the running backs provided the highlight plays of the scrimmage. Marquis Green (13 carries, 94 yards) broke free around the left side for a 60-yard touchdown early on, giving cornerback Chaz Moore a stiff-arm at the 10 to get into the end zone.

"He told me he got me back for [getting him] in practice earlier this week," said Moore, who had an interception negated by a penalty. "As long as he's running hard and strong, I'll take it."

Tolerance Shepherd (14 carries, 124 yards and a touchdown), who redshirted in the fall, consistently ran hard and burst through tackles. On a 10-yard run around the right edge, he fought through several tackles and left five defenders on the ground behind him.

"I was taught to keep running, keep moving my feet, and if you do that it's hard for them to get you down," Shepherd said.

Quarterbacks Jacob Huesman (7-for-16, 122 yards) and Terrell Robinson (11-for-19, 127) ran the ball effectively and had success with the short passing game. How well they ran the ball was hard to gauge since the defense was prohibited from tackling them.

Overall, Coach Huesman said, Friday's scrimmage was better than the first scrimmage, "on both sides of the ball."

Extra points

Linebacker Muhasibi Wakeel (knee) and running back Kenny Huitt (contusion) did not participate in the scrimmage. ... Punter Nick Pollard had three attempts downed inside the 10. ... The Mocs will conduct their 12th workout of the spring this morning at Scrappy Moore Field.

Contact John Frierson at jfrierson@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6268. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/mocsbeatCTFP.

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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