Throughout the 2011 season, the struggles of the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga's young offensive line were a running storyline. That hasn't been the case this spring.
"They're doing pretty good," coach Russ Huesman said. "There's some holes there."
Holes in a defense - bad. Holes on the offensive line - good.
The Mocs' quarterbacks and running backs have had running lanes to burst through for much of spring practice, especially the past few practices. The offensive line was imposing and effective in last Saturday's scrimmage, during which, unofficially, the offense rushed for 361 yards on 56 carries.
Those numbers include the offensive and defensive starters and backups, as well as some big runs - especially Jacob Huesman's 60-yarder - on busted plays.
"They're a very, very close-knit group and that's half the battle," offensive coordinator Marcus Satterfield said. "They take pride in what they do; they know they're a long way away - they'll tell you that - but I think they take a lot of pride in working hard, trying to get things fixed, and I'm proud of the way they've progressed."
The Mocs played a lot of newcomers on the offensive line last season and never built much chemistry, right tackle Adam Miller said. There have been some changes on the line this spring because of injuries and left guard Austin Wilson's decision to not play his final season, but the familiarity and trust are growing, Miller said.
"Up front it's all chemistry," said Miller, who has started 29 games the past three seasons. "And with the injuries we've been having it's kind of hard to build chemistry, but we're starting to, up front, be more able to understand what the guy beside you is going to do.
"We're clicking up front and all of our skill guys are doing a great job."
The Mocs have been without linemen Taylor Dodds, Devin Caldwell and Synjen Herren throughout spring practice.
With the recent losses of Wilson and freshman linebacker/defensive end D'Eddric Williams, the Mocs will be on the lookout for some transfers this spring.
"We have some [scholarships] available," Coach Huesman said. "We'll wait and see what happens. We may not have one kid that's a fit, I don't know. I'm not going to jeopardize team chemistry and things like that just to take a kid.
"I would think that there's going to be a couple that we think are good kids and that fit where we need them to fit."
The end of spring practice is when players are typically on the move, the phones of Football Championship Subdivision coaches across the country will start ringing a lot in the weeks ahead. Among the positions UTC may want to strengthen are wide receiver and defensive back.
Spring game setup
Coach Huesman said quarterbacks Terrell Robinson and Jacob Huesman, who have been splitting snaps with the first and second units all spring, will be on the same team in Saturday's Blue & Gold game at Finley Stadium.
The first-team offense will go against the first-team defense and the second squads will go against each other, Huesman said. There will be some players who change sides at halftime. Because of injuries the Mocs barely have enough players at some positions to assemble two teams.