* Finley Stadium in Chattanooga * CSS/105.1 FM
Led by last season's Southern Conference defensive player of the year in defensive end Davis Tull and fellow preseason first-team All-SoCon pick defensive tackle Derrick Lott, UTC has one of the best defensive lines in the Championship Subdivision. There's speed, size, experience -- everything you could want. That line will face a veteran UT-Martin offensive front with three returning starters. The Skyhawks have allowed just 17 sacks the past two seasons despite throwing the ball 773 times. UTC should be sound throughout its defense, but its superiority will start up front.
One to watch
At 5-foot-11 and 175 pounds, UTC junior wide receiver Tommy Hudson isn't big. And he doesn't say too much. But he does catch passes, most anything thrown near him. After catching 31 passes for 304 yards last season, Hudson has improved in all phases as a receiver, while at the same time UTC's offense has blossomed under new coordinator Jeff Durden, who will likely want throw the ball more this season. Hudson's longest career catch is 22 yards. That will likely change this season -- maybe tonight.
"I think with Tommy people kind of forget that he can be an explosive, big-play guy," quarterback Jacob Huesman said. "Somehow he's kind of gotten the reputation as kind of a possession guy, but don't go to sleep on Tommy because he can bust one."
In the end
This is the most experienced and most balanced UTC team that coach Russ Huesman has had, and it's the most talented. If healthy, the defense can be among the best in the FCS. It's healthy enough to be highly disruptive tonight. Meanwhile, the Mocs' offense should show that it can move the ball on the ground with multiple rushers, while also flashing a productive passing game.
UTC 28, UT-Martin 24