Kicking concerns Chattanooga Mocs

Kicking concerns Chattanooga Mocs

August 12th, 2013 by John Frierson in Sports - College

UTC's Henrique Ribeiro attempts a field goal while wide receiver Davis Howell holds the snap during the Mocs first preseason scrimmage at Finley Stadium on Saturday.

Photo by C. B. Schmelter/Times Free Press.

While the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga football team got most of the day off Sunday - the Mocs attended a service at Silverdale Baptist Church and then had lunch - the coaching staff spent the afternoon hard at work.

For the coaches, Sunday was a chance to take a hard look at what the Mocs did during Saturday's scrimmage, the first of the preseason, and look ahead to the final two-plus weeks before UTC takes the field against UT-Martin on Aug. 29.

One decision Huesman has made is to ramp up the in-practice pressure on his kickers, who weren't sharp during the scrimmage. Part of that will be charting and tracking every kick, he said.

"What I have to see happen, and I spoke to the kickers about this, is they've got to focus on every kick they make, not just the kick that's in the scrimmage or in offense versus defense," he said. "When that ball's snapped and held, they've got to focus on making that kick, and I don't think they do that."

Whatever it takes, Huesman said, "we've got to make more."

The Mocs's place-kicking has been inconsistent since All-American Craig Camay's final season in 2009 -- he was 16-for-19 on field goals -- and Saturday didn't help ease Huesman's concerns.

Redshirt junior Nick Pollard missed from 27 yards on the first drive, missed from 25 yards (it wasn't a clean snap/hold) and also clanked an extra point off the right upright. He did make a 32-yarder in a simulated overtime period.

Sophomore Henrique Ribeiro, kicking with the second unit, was wide right on a 48-yard attempt before making a 35-yarder in overtime.

Pollard and Ribeiro combined to go 12-for-20 on field goal attempts in 2012, including 4-for-6 inside 30 yards and 1-for-6 on kicks of 40 or more yards.

Safeties feeling better

All-Southern Conference strong safety D.J. Key has participated in part of one practice this preseason due to a bone bruise in his left foot. Backup free safety Dean Haynes suffered a right ankle injury during the Mocs' first practice. For the better part of two weeks they've been spectators dealing with injuries that simply take time to heal.

Huesman said Key, the fifth-year senior with 24 career starts and 216 tackles, might be ready for the season opener. As for Haynes, the N.C. State transfer who missed much of last season due to injury, Huesman said it's highly likely that Haynes will miss the first two games as the ligament damage heals.

Both players said Sunday they were feeling much better, Huesman said. A decision on Key's status against the Skyhawks might not come until the Tuesday before the opener.

"We'd have to get him out there then," Huesman said. "I just think he's a kid that could go out there tomorrow and know exactly what to do."

Extra points

The Mocs will be back at Scrappy Moore Field at 7:45 this morning and will have their third and final two-a-day Tuesday. ... True freshman receiver Alphonso Stewart, who has yet to practice due to a knee injury that required minor surgery, could begin working out this week. He looked quite comfortable running from the rainstorm during last Friday night's practice.

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