Five teams have chance for SoCon championship

Five teams have chance for SoCon championship

October 24th, 2012 by John Frierson in Sports - College

UTC football coach Russ Huesman watches a recent practice.

UTC football coach Russ Huesman watches a recent...

Photo by Jake Daniels /Times Free Press.

Three Southern Conference teams -- No. 2 Georgia Southern, No. 8 Wofford and the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga -- head into the final weekend in October with only one loss each in league play.

GSU's Eagles lost to The Citadel; Wofford's Terriers lost to the Eagles; the Mocs lost to 15th-ranked Appalachian State. The SoCon title race is almost certainly now down to the five teams mentioned in the preceding sentence.

GSU is 5-1, Wofford 4-1 and UTC 3-1, and ASU's Mountaineers and the Bulldogs are tied for fourth in the standings at 3-2. The Mocs host the Eagles while The Citadel visits Wofford on Saturday in critical games for all four teams.

"Any time you're playing at the end of October, early November, and you've got a chance, that's what you're in it for," UTC coach Russ Huesman said.

Mocs staying healthy

UTC is the exception this season, and not the rule, in overall health and lineup stability. Of the Mocs' 22 offensive and defensive first-team spots, only one -- left tackle -- has shuffled because of injury. Starter Brandon Morgan (shoulder) and backup Taylor Dodds (knee) are both out for the season, and Hunter Dockery has started the past three games.

Of the other 21 spots, 14 haven't had any change at the top of the depth chart. Not all have started every game due to the play or scheme UTC has used to start a game, but the Mocs have had a very stable lineup since the season began.

Huesman said the Mocs have plenty of guys getting treatment and playing through minor injuries, but overall, he said, UTC has been "fortunate to be fairly healthy throughout the season."

More touchbacks

UTC kicker Nick Pollard had one touchback in 50 kickoffs last season. He's had seven in 21 kicks in 2012.

The NCAA released a report Monday stating that among Football Bowl Subdivision teams, the new kickoff rules have led to a dramatic increase in touchbacks. Teams kick off from the 35-yard line now, instead of the 30, and through the first six weeks of this season there were 1,450 touchbacks -- 53 more than all of last season.

Contact John Frierson at jfrierson@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6268. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/mocsbeatCTFP.