Mocs end spring strong

Mocs end spring strong

April 3rd, 2011 by John Frierson in Sports - College

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In it's final outing of the spring, the UTC offensive line, both the first and second units, performed well Saturday, line coach Geep Wade said.

The line wasn't allowed to cut block in the Blue & Gold game, which limited some of what it could do in blitz situations. Overall, Wade said, it was a good spring.

"I thought protection, for the most part, got better the last four or five practices, especially last Wednesday," he said. "We've got four more weeks in the weight room, and we're really going to concentrate on our footwork. We're going to try to get ahead."

Graham Nichols picked up another Offensive MVP award, Will Healy and B.J. Coleman made their offensive coordinator debuts and the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga first-team defense showed some muscle.

The Mocs closed out spring football practice Saturday in front of an announced crowd of 2,791 at Finley Stadium. The final score didn't matter much, but it was the White squad, comprised of the first-team defense and second-team offense, that prevailed over the Blue team (first-team offense, second-team defense), 27-14, in the Blue & Gold game.

"It was a good day," a smiling Mocs coach Russ Huesman said afterward.

Nichols, the Mocs' backup quarterback behind Coleman, completed 12 of 19 passes for 161 yards and a touchdown with the White squad to earn MVP honors for the second year in a row.

He also played a couple of series with the Blue offense, against the first-team defense, and went 2-of-4 for 7 yards, with two interceptions on deflected passes.

"Overall I feel like I kept improving and kept learning, and I got a lot more comfortable with everything," he said of his performance during spring practice.

Defensive tackle Nick Davison, the only starting defensive lineman healthy this spring, was named the defensive MVP. He led a strong performance by the White defense with five tackles, a sack, and two tackles for loss.

Linebackers Shane Heatherly and Wes Dothard and cornerback Chaz Moore also had five tackles each to lead the White defense.

Offensive coordinator Marcus Satterfield let Coleman call his own plays to start the game and said the rising senior would keep calling them as long as the Blue offense scored.

The Blue offense picked up a pair of first downs on its opening drive, with Coleman calling a mix of runs and passes, before the White defense forced a punt, ending Coleman's stint in charge.

"I thought he did very well," wideout Joel Bradford said. "We swapped the field position, we drove down and had a pretty good drive, and just fell short on third down."

The Blue offense didn't show off its full arsenal but was able to put together a few solid drives. Coleman finished 14-of-20 for 108 yards and a touchdown.

J.J. Jackson led the Blue team's modest ground attack with seven carries for 21 yards. He also had three catches for 35 yards. Chris Awuah had seven carries for 11 yards before suffering an ankle injury.

Satterfield told Healy, the wide receivers coach, on Friday that he could call the plays for the White offense. Knowing how Satterfield likes to kid around with people sometimes, Healy said he wasn't sure if it was a joke or not.

"I didn't think he was serious, and I knew if I sat up all night and put a playbook together that he'd tell me he was kidding," Healy said.

Satterfield wasn't kidding and the White offense moved the ball effectively for much of the game. Wideout Bryant Belew caught four passes for 68 yards, including a 48-yarder, and Jeff Veres had seven catches for 83 yards and a touchdown.

"I looked at [Satterfield] about midway through and said 'this is a whole lot harder than I'd thought,'" Healy said. "Just deciding where the ball is on the field and what personnel and what play to call, it's tough."

Kicker Nick Pollard made both of his field-goal attempts, with a long of 44 yards.

After the game, next season's captains were announced. Voted on by the players, the captains are Coleman (for the second year in a row), linebacker Ryan Consiglio and safeties Jordan Tippit and Chris Lewis-Harris.