'Backer top area for UTC

'Backer top area for UTC

September 6th, 2011 by John Frierson in Sports - College

University of Tennessee at Chattanooga linebackers Ryan Consiglio, Wes Dothard and Gunner Miller all played at a high level in last Saturday's season opener at Nebraska. They played so well that Mocs coach Russ Huesman said they were the "best unit" on the team.

"They played the best, all the way across the board -- every one of them. I was really pleased with them," Huesman said Monday.

In the Mocs' 40-7 defeat to the bowl subdivision's 10th-ranked Cornhuskers, Consiglio had a game-high 14 tackles, including two for loss, plus a forced fumble and a pass breakup. Miller and Dothard had nine and seven tackles, each with two for loss and a pass breakup.

"They knew what they were doing, knew where they were supposed to be, played hard and could have even had bigger days," Huesman said. "Wes almost [had an interception] and Consiglio almost picks one. Those would have been big plays."

He said defensive coordinator and linebackers coach Adam Fuller "is doing a great job with those guys. He coaches those guys up well."

Shane Heatherly, UTC's returning starter at Mike (middle) linebacker -- Dothard started in his place -- got a few snaps late in the game after missing much of the preseason with a high ankle sprain. Huesman said he should be more involved this week as UTC prepares for Saturday's home opener against Jacksonville State.

UTC impresses Crowe

In his weekly news conference Monday, Jacksonville State coach Jack Crowe had a lot of good things to say about the Mocs' performance.

"This is the best Chattanooga team, by far, that we've played," Crowe said. "To me the game with Nebraska was not a 40-7 football game. They really held their own on the line of scrimmage and their leading rusher [Marquis Green] averaged 5.3 yards per carry. ... I was just extraordinarily impressed with the coaching and the play."

UTC leads the overall series with JSU 25-10, but the Gamecocks have won the past four meetings.

The Mocs dropped from two spots to No. 23 in the Sports Network poll, released Monday. JSU fell one spot to No. 10. Georgia Southern jumped up two positions to No. 2, behind defending national champion Eastern Washington and one ahead of Appalachian State.

Club hosts Huesman

Huesman will be the guest speaker for the Mocs Club meeting tonight at 7 in McKenzie Arena's Hall of Fame Room. Refreshments will be served at 6:30, and the public is invited.

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