Former Tennessee Tech wide receiver Carter Crutchfield started work Friday as UTC's director of football operations. It's a new position that in the future will lighten the administrative load on coach Russ Huesman, strength coach Scott Brincks and assistant athletic director for facilities and equipment Mike Royster. It includes booking everything for road games and coordinating preseason camp meals and housing, among other duties.
"It frees Brincks up, it frees Royster up and it consolidates everything into one area," Huesman said.
Crutchfield, from Dalton, Ga., worked with UTC athletic director David Blackburn while serving as a football intern at Tennessee.
University of Tennessee at Chattanooga offensive coordinator Jeff Durden said left tackle Corey Levin has performed as well as anyone during the Mocs' preseason practices.
Head coach Russ Huesman said the 6-foot-5, 275-pound redshirt freshman is doing what UTC's coaches expected when they signed him out of Dacula (Ga.) High School. In other words, Levin has come on strong the past few weeks - and his emergence is no surprise.
"I just knew he was a really, really good player coming out of high school," Huesman said. "We recruited him really hard and beat some good people on him."
Among those offering Levin scholarships were Navy, Appalachian State and Georgia Southern. He picked the Mocs and redshirted last fall. During spring practice, with Brandon Morgan out due to shoulder surgery and Hunter Dockery sliding over to right tackle, Levin got a chance to show what he could do at left tackle.
Morgan started preseason practice back with the first team, but the coaches moved Levin ahead after the first scrimmage. Levin said one area of his game has improved the most from when he arrived at UTC.
"My run blocking, for sure, has gotten better," he said. "I've paid a lot of attention to my footwork in run blocking, and that's helped quite a bit."
Durden has bragged on Levin's play since early in the preseason.
"He's put on some weight, he's gotten bigger, he's faster and stronger, and he knows what to do," Durden said. "He's had probably one of the best camps that anybody's had. Just real consistent."
One thing that's helped Levin, and the rest of the offensive line, improve is going up against UTC's defensive line, which likely is among the best in the Football Championship Subdivision. When the starting offense goes against the starting defense, the offensive line faces as tough a challenge as it will see against any FCS opponent, Levin said.
"It's definitely an honor to go against those guys," he said. "There's a couple of [possible] All-Americans there. Davis Tull was ranked [the No. 1 defensive end in the FCS by Phil Steele's College Football Preview], and that definitely helps a lot."
Having Morgan as a backup, along with center Shaun Hill, gives the Mocs more experienced depth in the line than they've had in recent seasons. When left guard Synjen Herren missed a few days of practice with an ankle injury, center Patrick Sutton took his spot and Hill replaced him at center.
With only a few practices left before Thursday's season opener against UT-Martin, Durden said all phases of the offense need to get a little sharper.
"We need to put some polish on it. At times we're still shuffling our personnel around too much," he said. "I think once we get it dialed in, and it's really close, we'll be fine."
The Mocs got a treat at the end of Friday's practice: ice cream sandwiches and milk. The players got very excited when the yellow Mayfield van arrived at Scrappy Moore Field.
Contact John Frierson at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6268. Follow him at twitter.com/MocsBeat.