Youth sparking UTC offense

Youth sparking UTC offense

September 11th, 2012 by John Frierson in Sports - College

UTC's Ron Moore Jr.

UTC's Ron Moore Jr.

Photo by Angela Lewis /Times Free Press.

Of the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga's 422 yards of offense last Saturday in the Mocs' 27-24 loss at No. 24 Jacksonville State, all but 19 of them were produced by freshmen and sophomores.

The Mocs (0-2) are young on offense, with only three upperclassmen in the starting lineup, and first- and second-year players accounted for 403 yards.

Relying on so many young players might not be an ideal situation, but coach Russ Huesman said players from every class need to produce.

"We need more out of everybody, there's no question about that," he said.

In his first career start, redshirt freshman quarterback Jacob Huesman accounted for 166 yards rushing and threw for 181, with a rushing touchdown and two touchdown passes. The Mocs also got 51 rushing yards from sophomore Keon Williams.

The Mocs' top four pass catchers were also young. Sophomores Tommy Hudson (seven catches for 34 yards) and Ron Moore (four catches for 55 yards and a touchdown) led the way, with true freshman Tray James (three catches for 43 yards and a touchdown) and sophomore tight end Faysal Shafaat (2 catches for 44 yards) right behind them.

"We have some playmakers on our side," said James, who got his first career touchdown on a 4-yard reception. "It felt really good to move the ball up the field, get first downs, make plays and score touchdowns."

Among upperclassmen, the only production came from J.J. Jackson, who had 14 rushing yards and one 2-yard reception, and wideout Jarrett Burns (a 3-yard catch).

The offense's numbers looked good with 422 yards and 22 first downs, yet the Mocs scored only 24 points. That's not good enough, coordinator Marcus Satterfield said.

"We have to do the things we were doing in the game, but put them together in order where they equal touchdowns and field goals as opposed to missed field goals and turnovers," he said.

Jacob Huesman had a 62-yard run on the first play of the game, but that drive ended with a missed 29-yard field goal. On UTC's second drive, a Huesman fumble was returned 75 yards for a JSU touchdown.

Had the Mocs executed a little more effectively, from blocking to making better reads and throws, Russ Huesman said UTC could have had a huge night offensively.

"We left a lot out there," he said. "We should have had more points, more yards -- but I think we're going in the right direction."

UTC also gets sophomore quarterback Terrell Robinson back this week after he sat out the Jacksonville State game. Jacob Huesman and Robinson will both play Thursday in UTC's home opener against Glenville State.

The Mocs are normally off on Mondays, but they practiced at Finley Stadium on Monday night in preparation for the Pioneers (1-1). This will be UTC's first Thursday game since beating the Division II school 30-13 in Huesman's first game as coach in 2009.

UTC practiced for only a little more than an hour Sunday and went a few periods shorter than normal Monday. Huesman said having a short week affects the players' rest more than it does the preparation.

Good thing they've got all those young legs.

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