SoCon teams seek dry spots

SoCon teams seek dry spots

September 7th, 2011 by John Frierson in Sports - College

The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga football team had to do a split practice on the 50-yard artificial turf section at Scrappy Moore Field on Tuesday - the defense practiced and then the offense - because of the heavy rainfall that turned the grass field into a bog.

Elsewhere across the rain-soaked South, Elon coach Jason Swepson said the Phoenix were scrambling to find a place to practice because all they have are grass fields.

"I talked to the AD this morning to see if we could get a FieldTurf field put in by 3 o'clock," Swepson joked during the Southern Conference media teleconference Tuesday.

Actually, Swepson said Elon had put in a call to Duke, which is 40 miles away, to see about using its indoor facility. If that wasn't available, Swepson said, Elon might try a place in Greensboro.

Up in Boone, Appalachian State coach Jerry Moore had no weather worries. The Mountaineers have an indoor facility that comes in handy many times during the year, whether it's because of rain or snow.

"I've been here 20-plus years and that thing is invaluable -- not just for football but every sport," Moore said. "There's no way to place a value on what it means for our school and our program."

Ordinarily, UTC might have gone to Finley Stadium to practice, but the stadium has been unavailable since last week as work is being done to level the surface beneath the turf.

Finley Stadium executive director Merrill Eckstein said Tuesday that all that remains is for the turf to be put back down and sealed, which should be completed by Thursday afternoon. Not only are the Mocs playing their home opener against Jacksonville State on Saturday, but Finley will host a high school game on Friday.

"If they've got to work 24 hours, they will," Eckstein said. "We'll turn the lights on for them so they can work whatever hours they need to to get it done."

SoCon versus DII

There probably won't be many nail-biters for SoCon teams Saturday. The Mocs host the Gamecocks in the first regular-season game between ranked teams ever at Finley, and the first in Chattanooga since 1984, and there is only league game (Furman at The Citadel).

Four SoCon teams are hosting Division II opponents. Samford coach Pat Sullivan said teams need games like the Bulldogs' against Stillman.

UTC coach Russ Huesman said he wouldn't have minded some easier FCS nonconference games, instead of hosting JSU and visiting Eastern Kentucky.

"We all would, and anybody who says they wouldn't is lying to you," he said. "Would I like two really, really bad FCS teams? Yeah, we all would. Ask any coach in America and they'll say the same thing."

Extra points

In the FCS coaches' poll released Tuesday, UTC dropped two spots to No. 25, while Jacksonville State fell a spot to No. 10. ... Running back J.J. Jackson (ankle) will definitely miss Saturday's game and could be out a couple of weeks.