Quarterback Jacob Huesman has had a new instructor this semester — new offensive coordinator Jeff Durden.
Yet Huesman already has played a teaching role in the curriculum that University of Tennessee at Chattanooga football players learned in the weeks leading up to spring practice, which started Friday and will continue through April 20.
"There was a few things that we wanted to keep our way, and he said, 'OK,' but there was a lot of different vocabulary and lingo to pick up on," said Huesman, who likely will be the starting quarterback on Aug. 29 against UT-Martin.
"We've hung out a lot with him and we're getting a grasp of it," Huesman said of Durden. "We were up there [in classrooms] at least a few days a week, voluntarily, learning."
Durden and head coach Russ Huesman have said this semester that the Mocs' base offense will be similar to what they ran last season when they went 6-5 overall and 5-3 in the Southern Conference. But there will be some changes -- and likely an increased pace of play when the time is right to teach that advanced curriculum.
The hours spent blending the system Durden learned throughout his career -- including his last nine years at James Madison -- with what the returning Mocs know started after his hiring and will continue through the spring season. It should accelerate during preseason camp to have UTC ready for the Skyhawks in the season opener.
"Spring ball is more study hall because we're not going to cram it in there," Durden said. "We'll work every day and do what we can do and build on it as opposed to cram everything in.
"I'd rather it be me or three other coaches learn something new than teach a whole new concept to the players."
Some things will change, and that's just the way it is when any new coordinator comes on board.
"Some of the big-picture-stuff concepts are different and we're going to have to learn those, and two are going in today," Durden said before practice. "We'll have a lot more motion, a lot more shifts, and that's something that we can really help ourselves. You'll see a lot more variety just from formation."
Durden spent several periods of practice working with the quarterbacks on basic fundamentals from drop-backs to play-action moves to footwork.
He even had them do a football version of basketball dribbling drills and telling the quarterbacks that last season he saw snaps go through the legs of quarterbacks on national television last year. He walked his QBs through drills to improve footwork and ball-handling.
Durden also oversaw 7-on-7 drills as well as full-team drills toward the end of practice and routinely spent a few moments teaching after almost every snap.
UTC's defense won the first day of spring and did not have to run post-practice gassers.
"I thought the defense looked really good today. It flew around, it had great knee bend and we challenged routes in the secondary," Coach Huesman said. "I figured that's where we'd be defensively. Offensively, we have a ways to go, but I expected it."
The Mocs will meet for classroom-style instruction this morning before returning to Scrappy Moore Field for an early afternoon practice.
"You're not going to come in and study one day and pass the test," Durden said. "It's a journey, a process. We're going to be great teachers and have high expectations, and from there, fill in the blanks."
David Uchiyama is a sports writer at the Chattanooga Times Free Press who began his tenure here in May 2001. His primary beats are UTC athletics — specifically men’s basketball and athletic department administration — and golf, which includes coverage from the PGA Tour to youth events. He also covers other high school sports, outdoor adventures, and contributes to other sections of the newspaper when necessary. David grew up in Salinas, Calif., and began working ...