Here's the bad news for the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga defense: Nebraska's Taylor Martinez isn't the only running quarterback the Mocs will see this season.
Now here's the good news: Martinez almost certainly will be the best dual-threat QB the Mocs face.
UTC had mixed results in last Saturday's 40-7 season-opening loss to the Cornhuskers. Martinez ran for 135 yards and three touchdowns and threw for 116 yards. Of Martinez's 19 carries, 11 went for less than 5 yards and eight went for 5 or more, including touchdown runs of 7, 43 and 47 yards.
This week No. 25 UTC has to concern itself with No. 10 Jacksonville State's Coty Blanchard, a multitalented sophomore who will make his first start Saturday after senior Marques Ivory suffered a fractured fibula in the Gamecocks' opener.
"I think he's got really good speed and he can do those types of things [that Martinez did]," Mocs coach Russ Huesman said of Blanchard.
Huesman said not having to prepare for Ivory, a bigger QB who's less likely to run, should make preparing for the Gamecocks a little easier.
"Now you're defending Blanchard and what he does well," he said. "If they had Ivory still, you're thinking you've got to prepare for this, too."
It might be his first start, but the 6-foot, 180-pound Blanchard is no wide-eyed rookie. The 2010 Ohio Valley Conference freshman of the year has been part of a two-man rotation at quarterback since he first arrived at JSU, and last season he finished with 289 yards rushing and 296 passing.
And in the big moments he came up big.
Blanchard threw the winning pass for a two-point conversion in overtime to beat Ole Miss in the 2010 opener, and Blanchard had a touchdown run and a TD pass in the fourth quarter against UTC last season as JSU rallied from a 17-0 hole to beat the Mocs 21-17.
After Ivory's injury last Thursday, Blanchard rallied JSU past UT-Martin in the fourth quarter. Jacksonville State trailed 23-10 entering the fourth and won 24-23.
Blanchard had a 43-yard touchdown pass to Washaun Ealey early in the final period, and then on the deciding drive he had runs of 20 and 8 yards to help set up the winning score.
"Last year I got a lot of playing time and there's really no reason I should be nervous," Blanchard said Tuesday. "I'm looking forward to [my first start]."
Along with playing quarterback, Blanchard also is in his second season as JSU's punter. And last spring he started every game, mostly at third base, and batted .335 for the baseball team, earning Freshman All-America honors.
"Hey, don't play him in pingpong," JSU coach Jack Crowe said. "Don't play him in billiards. He loves to play and he's good at everything he plays."