Jacob Huesman hasn't lost any confidence in what the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga offense can do this season, starting with Saturday's game against Georgia State.
The second-year quarterback said the Mocs' offense in the second half of UTC's season-opening loss to UT-Martin last week was a far better reflection of what the unit can do than the offense in the first two quarters.
At halftime of the 31-21 defeat, UTC trailed 7-0. The offense had gained 134 yards on 37 plays (a modest 3.6 average) and the play that perhaps best symbolized the opening 30 minutes of the season was the last.
UTC called timeout on fourth-and-8 at the Martin 40-yard line to set up a heave into the end zone. But Jacob couldn't get the pass off before being sacked for an 8-yard loss.
"We need to be better than that," said Jacob, who threw for 226 yards and three touchdowns, rushed for 90 yards and was sacked three times.
UTC was better in the second half, gaining 234 yards, 12 first downs and scoring 21 points. It was a second half the Mocs can build on, Jacob said.
"We know we can move the ball, we moved it during the spring and in camp, and we know what we can do," he said. "Sometimes we just do some stupid little things that cost us. We had a couple of penalties that really hurt us. It's just the little things. We're close and we know we're close."
Offensive coordinator Jeff Durden said he like what he saw from the offense in the second half. There were some big pass plays, Jacob ran the ball effectively and UTC scored some points.
"We had the ball for 19 minutes in the first half, and we just didn't get paid, which was frustrating," he said. "In the second half we came out and played the way we wanted to play."
One of the most dynamic players in the Southern Conference, wide receiver/quarterback Terrell Robinson didn't play in the opener. He was out with a hamstring injury, Mocs coach Russ Huesman said. Robinson has practiced this week and will play, according to Huesman.
The return of Robinson, who led UTC with 40 catches last season, will be critical, especially against a Georgia State defense that held Samford last week to 193 yards pass and 298 yards of total offense.
"Terrell runs great routes, he catches the ball well, he's smart -- and it's going to be huge having him back and being able to integrate him into the offense," Jacob said.
UTC's offense won't be significantly better against the Panthers unless the offensive line performs better. The Mocs have already made a change at right tackle with Brandon Morgan replacing Hunter Dockery on the first unit. Durden said protecting the quarterback and giving him time to throw -- and that's on the line, the backs and tight ends -- is a high priority
"Jacob's got to protect himself a little bit better, too," Durden said. "He's got to use the snap count a little bit more and put the protection where he needs. I thought we did more of trying to block the look, as opposed to putting ourselves in the perfect situation a couple of times."
UT-Martin typically had nine guys close to the nine of scrimmage, effectively daring the Mocs to beat them on the outside. It worked on occasion, like Tommy Hudson's 41-yard reception, but not enough. And it's likely Georgia State will put similar pressure on the Mocs' perimeter passing game.
"I thought we did a decent job getting behind [the defender] on the deep balls, but I was just off by a fraction of an inch in some cases," Jacob said.
Mocs defensive backs Will Johnson (shoulder), Zach McCarter (knee) and D.J. Key (foot) all practiced in no-contact jerseys Wednesday. ... Twenty-three of UTC's 29 players from Georgia are from the Atlanta area. ... UTC's last win over a Bowl Subdivision team was a 9-7 victory against Southwestern Louisiana (now Louisiana-Lafayette) in 1984.
Contact John Frierson at email@example.com or 423-757-6268. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/MocsBeat.