Russ Huesman says UTC Mocs kicking game must improve

Russ Huesman says UTC Mocs kicking game must improve

November 14th, 2012 by John Frierson in Sports - College

UTC football coach Russ Huesman watches practice.

UTC football coach Russ Huesman watches practice.

Photo by Jake Daniels /Times Free Press.

University of Tennessee at Chattanooga coach Russ Huesman wants everyone to know that he likes his kickers, Nick Pollard and Henrique Ribeiro.

"We've got good legs and we've got good kids," Huesman said.

However, the Mocs are 11-of-18 on field-goal tries this season. And they've missed two extra points. If a team wins every game by 20 points, those misses don't matter too much. But for a UTC program that has won just one of its last eight games decided by three points or less, every miss is critical.

In last Saturday's 16-13 overtime loss to No. 9 Wofford, Ribeiro missed a 29-yard attempt in the third quarter. That wasn't the only reason UTC lost, Huesman said, but clearly the Mocs' kicking game can improve.

"I have a lot of thoughts about how we're going to progress from this week and how we're going to move forward with our kicking game," said Huesman, whose Mocs close out their season against Elon on Saturday.

"Part of it's pressure and also part of it, this is a coaching problem, is we don't have a specific kicking coach," he added. "I don't know if their technique is not right. I think it's more of a confidence thing. And that's part coaching. We've got to put them in situations where they feel confident."

Pollard is 8-of-13 on field goals this season, but he's also averaging 41.3 yards per punt and has mostly been solid on kickoffs.

"He's done a whole bunch and I'm not displeased with him or Henrique at all," Huesman said. "They're talented kids. Sometimes it's on the players and sometimes it's on us [coaches] -- are we preparing them the right way, are we practicing them the right way?"

Tull pulling away

Mocs defensive end Davis Tull had three tackles for loss against Wofford, raising his total this season to 16.5, which is first in the Southern Conference and eighth nationally in the FCS. Appalachian State linebacker Jeremy Kimbrough is second in the SoCon with nine.

Tull also leads the league (and is No. 5 in the FCS) with 10 sacks, three more than anyone else. Huesman is biased but said his redshirt sophomore has to be the SoCon defensive player of the year.

The three leading candidates appear to be Tull, Kimbrough and the 2011 award winner, Brent Russell, Georgia Southern's All-America senior defensive tackle. Russell was the preseason pick, but he has been slowed by an ankle injury and was suspended from the team last week following a disorderly conduct arrest.

"If Tull's not the best defensive player in the league and he doesn't get it," Huesman said, "then that's a shame."

Extra points

With its strong defensive performance against Wofford (16 points, 249 yards allowed), UTC moved to first in the SoCon in total defense. ... Mocs linebacker Gunner Miller (shoulder) practiced in a no-contact jersey Tuesday, and left guard Synjen Herren (shoulder) practiced without restrictions after sitting out most of the Wofford game.

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