published Wednesday, September 18th, 2013

Russ Huesman: UTC Mocs' stats may be misleading

UTC coach Russ Huesman watches a scrimmage at Finley Stadium.
UTC coach Russ Huesman watches a scrimmage at Finley Stadium.
Photo by Angela Lewis /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

Three games are in the books and the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga football team ranks first or second in the Southern Conference in numerous statistical categories, including scoring offense (second), scoring defense (first) and total offense and total defense (both second).

The numbers paint a flattering portrait for the Mocs (2-1), who routed Austin Peay 42-10 last Saturday, but coach Russ Huesman doesn't think it's a particularly accurate one.

"We're probably not as good as what the statistics are showing," Huesman said during Tuesday's SoCon teleconference. "I don't think we're the first or second best offense or defense in the league right now.

"We've been fortunate that the last couple of weeks I think we've played a couple of teams that we were better than and I think we played like we should have."

The SoCon ranks teams in 33 statistical categories, but not all apply at present since UTC has yet to attempt a field goal (the only team in the league without one) or an onside kick or face an onside kick. Of the other 30 categories, the Mocs rank in the top three in 19.

UTC's next opponent, Georgia Southern -- the Mocs are off Saturday and visit Statesboro on Sept. 28 -- ranks in the top three in 21 of those same 30 categories.

The Mocs opened with a loss to UT-Martin and then trounced Georgia State and Austin Peay. The UT-Martin loss looked a bit better by last Saturday night, after the Skyhawks upset then-No. 7 Central Arkansas 24-23.

"I think Martin's showing up to be a pretty good team, beating Central Arkansas," Huesman said. "Now you can look back and say, 'Yeah, that was a real good football team we played there.'"

The Mocs rank last in only one category, but it's a big one. UTC is ninth out of nine teams in red-zone defense, having allowed five touchdowns and two field goals in its opponents' seven trips in scoring territory.

Georgia Southern has converted 16 of its 18 red-zone chances, with 14 touchdowns. The Eagles were 3-for-3 against Wofford last week, but they also lost two fumbles and threw an interception -- a continuation of the mistakes that have coach Jeff Monken seeing red.

The Eagles, like UTC, are off this week, but there probably won't be anything easy for GSU's players in the next few days.

"I'm embarrassed and extremely disappointed about the way we played," said Monken, who has been frustrated by his team's play all season, even after blowout wins. "We've got a lot of work to do."

Extra prep time

The Mocs have the luxury of a few extra days of practice to get ready for GSU's triple-option offense. This is the third time in Huesman's five seasons leading the Mocs that his team has had an off week before playing an option team. It happened in 2010 before playing The Citadel and in 2011 before playing Wofford.

"Luck of the draw," Huesman said of the scheduling quirk.

UTC didn't work on defending the triple option -- "I don't think you stop Georgia Southern; I think you try to slow them down," Huesman said -- during spring or preseason practice. That's because the Mocs had the off week before seeing it for the first time.

"Now if we wouldn't have had this, we probably would have done more in spring practice, we'd have done more in fall camp," he said.

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

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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