Among the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga's running backs, Kenny Huitt was the surprise star in last week's 28-10 win at The Citadel.
Well, the redshirt freshman's performance was a surprise to some. For others, seeing Huitt run for 57 yards and a touchdown on eight carries made sense.
"It wasn't a surprise at all," offensive coordinator Marcus Satterfield said.
Well built at 5-foot-9, 190 pounds, Huitt is like a cross between fellow Mocs running backs Keon Williams and Marquis Green -- a lot of the power of the former and a lot of the speed and quickness of the latter.
Head coach Russ Huesman, who pushed for Huitt to get a shot against The Citadel, said Huitt always has reminded him of former UTC rusher Bryan Fitzgerald. Often injured, Fitzgerald was one of the best in the Southern Conference when healthy.
"His style is very similar to Bryan's," Huesman said. "He's got great vision and he can make you miss. I'm not going to make him the next Walter Payton yet, but he's got a chance to be really good, I think."
The Mocs' top two rushers are quarterbacks Jacob Huesman (304 yards) and Terrell Robinson (155), followed by running backs Williams (150), Huitt (100), Green (97) and starter J.J. Jackson (54).
Huesman said he still rates Jackson at the top of the depth chart because the senior "does so much more than people see. The dependability you get out of J.J. is really important."
Just like at quarterback, Satterfield said, the competition at running back should yield positive results.
"If you don't perform, you can sit down for a long, long time," he said.
Against The Citadel, Jackson had two runs and two receptions and Huitt had his breakout game. Neither Williams nor Green took the field.
Mocs wideout Tommy Hudson has returned seven punts this season, for a total of 11 yards. Of the 77 Football Championship Subdivision players who have averaged the minimum of 1.2 returns per game to qualify for the NCAA's rankings, Hudson ranks 75th.
It's a question of priorities, Huesman said, and perhaps it's time UTC started trying for bigger returns instead of protecting against mistakes.
"You try to make sure you've got the ball when it's all done and hope they don't get a fake on you," Huesman said. "We probably do need to be better on [returns]."
UTC ranked 18th in the country in 2009, with an average of 11.7 yards a return. The Mocs dropped to 48th (9.4 ypr) in 2010 and they were 116th out of 120 teams last season (3.08). As a team, UTC is No. 108 this season (2.67).
Barring incident, it appears that all of UTC's true freshmen will redshirt except wideout Tray James and kicker Henrique Ribeiro. UTC also hopes to redshirt sophomore defensive tackle Josh Freeman. ... The Mocs are off today and will resume practice Sunday.