Since their time together at the University of Richmond, University of Tennessee at Chattanooga football coach Russ Huesman and defensive coordinator Adam Fuller have had a plan for defending the triple option.
Nobody stops a well-executed triple option (see Georgia Southern's 302 yards rushing at Alabama last season), but some defenses control it better than others.
"Typically throughout the years, Russ and this defense have played the option as good, if not better than everybody else in our league," The Citadel coach Kevin Higgins said during Tuesday's Southern Conference media teleconference.
Huesman didn't necessarily agree with that assessment, but he did say he felt "about as good as you can feel going into an option game."
Last season, UTC lost 28-27 to each of the SoCon's three option teams: The Citadel, Georgia Southern and Wofford. The Citadel (3-1, 2-0 this year) rushed for 265 yards, the Eagles gained 326 and Wofford had 358.
One reason Huesman and Fuller can feel good this week is their defensive line appears well suited to slowing the triple option. On the outside is the three-man end rotation of Davis Tull, Josh Williams and Zach Rayl. Inside, where UTC's size should make a big difference, the Mocs have starters Toyvian Brand (6-foot-2, 275 pounds) and Derrick Lott (6-4, 303), plus backups Chris Mayes (6-3, 295) and Keyon Reed (6-1, 260).
"Last year we were really young at tackle, at the point of attack," Fuller said. "We're bigger, probably a little bit stronger, more mature -- so I would think those things lend a hand toward doing certain things against the option."
The Mocs (1-3, 0-1) didn't have Mayes or Lott last season, while Tull, Reed and backup end Devin Scates were redshirt freshmen. Brand was a true freshman who started five games in 2011. Now he's experienced and 20 pounds of muscle heavier.
"That experience is going to help my greatly this year," he said. "Last year [against The Citadel], I didn't expect anything that happened during that game and I had a pretty bad game. This year I know what's going on and I'm prepared for it."
Lott, a transfer from the University of Georgia, said he practiced there against the option while preparing for Georgia Tech but hasn't played against it since high school.
"I was actually talking to [defensive line coach Marcus West] today, and we really need a big, stout guy at the nose position to clog gaps and make plays," Lott said. "It's not really about making tackles but helping other guys out. I'm not a selfish player at all and I can get in there and clog up gaps to make it bounce outside where somebody else can make the tackle."
Running UTC's scout-team option this week will be senior running back Chris Awuah. Also in the backfield will be true freshman defensive backs Will Johnson and Nakevion Leslie, who are redshirting this season.