Mocs football crowded in backfield

Mocs football crowded in backfield

March 22nd, 2012 by John Frierson in Sports - College

UTC's Marquis Green carries during UTC's first scrimmage of the spring Wednesday at Finley Stadium.

Photo by Angela Lewis/Times Free Press.

Marcus Satterfield isn't on the brink of separation anxiety, but the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga offensive coordinator would like for one of his many running backs to separate himself from the pack.

"I'd love to see some more separation," Satterfield said following Wednesday's practice, the Mocs' eighth of the spring. "We're not playing terrible, but we're not getting separation."

The Mocs have a crowded backfield that features players of all shapes, sizes and skill sets. J.J. Jackson, Chris Awuah, Marquis Green and Keon Williams all have at least one season of playing experience, while Kenny Huitt redshirted as a freshman last season.

Jackson started four games as a junior in 2011 and was at the top of the depth chart at the start of spring. All of the backs are getting plenty of carries and the role of lead back remains up for grabs.

"You'd like to have a guy that's you're go-to guy, but right now I don't know who that is," Mocs coach Russ Huesman said. "Maybe it's a running back by committee again next year."

UTC hasn't had a lead back in any of Huesman's three seasons as coach. Bryan Fitzgerald was looking the part, and leading the Southern Conference in rushing, early in the 2009 season before an injury put him on the sideline.

Chris Awuah led UTC in rushing as a true freshman in 2009 with 459 yards. Errol Wynn, then a fifth-year senior, led the Mocs in 2010 with 653, followed closely by Williams with 500 as a true freshman.

Awuah went down early in Wednesday's practice with a leg injury and did not return. The injury did not appear serious.

Green, another true freshman, led the Mocs last season with 530 yards. Green also had 17 receptions last season and UTC will utilize him in a variety of ways in the spread-style offense.

"They put all of us in difference situations, playing to our abilities, and they're looking for us to make plays," Green said. "I played a little slot and flanker in high school, so I'm getting a grip on that real fast."

The coaches are very high on Huitt's potential - he came close to playing last season - but he still has to prove that he can handle the physical nature of college football.

"He's a big, strong weight-room kid with good core strength and talent and ball skills," Satterfield said.

In August the Mocs will also welcome signee Tolerance Shepherd of Fitzgerald (Ga.) High School. They also have fullback Taharin Tyson, who is sitting out spring practice after shoulder surgery.

Extra points

UTC's defense was in takeaway mode for much of practice. The defense picked off at least six passes, all by different players, and didn't give up many plays in a contact-heavy practice.

The offensive did score a couple of touchdowns at the end of practice in goal line situations.

"I thought we competed pretty good, on both sides of the ball," Huesman said.

The Mocs will practice again Friday and then conduct their second scrimmage of the spring Saturday night at Finley Stadium.