At times during the first two-plus weeks of practice, Nick Pollard has looked like the preseason All-Southern Conference kicker that he is. The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga redshirt sophomore also has had stretches when he can't split the uprights.
Pollard was 10-for-14 on field-goal tries last season, making his final eight. Early in preseason camp he rarely missed from inside 45 yards, but he struggled during the past week.
Coach Russ Huesman said being overworked could be contributing to the misses.
"He hasn't been kicking great here for a few days, but we've got to be careful with him -- and probably I'm about as bad as it gets," Huesman said. "He's punting, he's kicking off, he's kicking [field goals]; he's kicked quite a bit during camp, and I've get to be careful with that.
"That's not an excuse ... but I can see where his leg's probably tired right now. He's kicked a lot and we'll have to be careful."
Pollard, who was solid during Saturday's practice at Finley Stadium, is working with a new holder and long snapper this season. Quarterback Jacob Huesman is doing the holding and Brynn Oliver, younger brother of former four-year snapper Brock Oliver, is currently the first-team snapper.
The Mocs also have two true freshman specialists in kicker Henrique Ribeiro, the former Baylor standout from Brazil, and long snapper Will Sharpton.
"We're talented enough with our specialists to be very good," Huesman said. "We are, but in that position, you know, we don't get a do-over. You make it, it's three [points], and the bottom line is you have to make it. We have to snap it, hold it and kick it."
Meet the Mocs
Before practice Saturday, the Mocs donned their blue uniforms, including the new jerseys with the white piping, and took the team picture. After that they headed over to the First Tennessee Pavilion for the fourth annual "Meet the Mocs" autograph session.
Several hundred fans showed up to interact not only with the football team but with all of UTC's fall sports teams and men's and women's basketball players. Such a gathering wouldn't have been possible back in 2008, fifth-year senior right tackle Adam Miller said, because there wasn't much excitement in the community.
The arrival of quarterback B.J. Coleman, the popular hometown boy, helped draw a crowd in 2009, but the program's turnaround has kept the excitement level high.
"B.J. helped sell this program right when he first got here, a lot, and we thank him for that," Miller said. "But it has gotten to where it's just not that hometown guy. People come and know us as players that come from other places, and they come out and support us. It's very exciting just to see the excitement that's around our program."
Wide receiver Marlon Anthony (ankle) returned to the field after missing more than a week, while wideout Ron Moore (hamstring) and tight end Jarrod Coleman (ankle) did not practice. ... UTC will conduct its second preseason scrimmage at 6 tonight at Finley.