Last season was the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga football team's first at running the spread offense full time. The Mocs under then-offensive coordinator Marcus Satterfield weren't exactly wearing training wheels, but they weren't running wild in a complex scheme, either.
Satterfield's background was running a pro-style offense, and he was learning on the fly at times.
"Since it was Coach Satterfield's first year running that, I think it was kind of an experimental year," said quarterback Jacob Huesman, who started 10 games as a freshman in 2012.
In December, Satterfield left to be the offensive coordinator at Temple University. Head coach Russ Huesman went looking for a coach with spread experience and found one in Jeff Durden, who had a lot of success with the spread during his nine-year run as James Madison's coordinator.
As the Mocs wrap up spring practice -- Monday's was the 13th of 15 allowed workouts -- Durden said the offense is "on schedule." A lot of the basics have been implemented, but there's still plenty to his system that will be installed before UTC opens the 2013 season against UT-Martin on Aug. 29.
"We haven't been throwing hot and we haven't run some plays that would exploit what we're getting [from the defense]," Durden said. "We don't play Chattanooga next year, so this is all about learning the system and getting some young guys [repetitions]."
In 2012, the Mocs ranked eighth in the Southern Conference in total offense with 349.8 yards per game. Jacob Huesman accounted for much of that with 82.2 rushing yards and 155.5 passing yards a game. Durden wants to use his talents and those of Terrell Robinson, but he wants other guys involved also.
"I think what we're doing is taking a lot of pressure off of the quarterback," he said. "He's got to be the point guard: He's got to distribute the ball and make good decisions, as opposed to [us] just riding him. That makes everybody better."
Russ Huesman said he likes the offense -- "I think this is really helping us get the ball in other people's hands," he said -- and likes how it looks when it's run correctly and efficiently. He just wishes that happened a little more often.
"I like what we're doing -- it's just not where I'd like it to be," Coach Huesman said following Monday's practice. "I'd like to be crisper, I'd like to be sharper, and hopefully that comes."
Durden and Satterfield have one odd thing in common: leg injuries. Satterfield shredded a calf muscle during preseason practice last August, and Durden recently suffered a major knee injury while playing basketball with UTC's other assistant coaches.
In order to get a better feel for the plays his offensive assistants like, Durden let them set the script for Monday's practice. Wednesday, it will be Jacob Huesman's and Terrell Robinson's turn to run the show.
"We're going to scrimmage some [Wednesday] and I said, 'We're going to see how well you know all this,'" Durden said. "We've got to get better, but it's also going to be fun."
UTC will practice Wednesday and the Blue and Gold game is Saturday at Finley Stadium.
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 ...