The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga football team held the first of four planned two-a-day practices Wednesday, with the evening session held in shells (shorts, helmets and shoulder pads) and a lot of emphasis on specific late-game situations.
After a physical morning practice, there were enough mistakes during the two-minute and four-minute drills - false start penalties, offsides and snap count issues - to have coaches on both sides grousing a bit.
"I think they're feeling sorry for themselves a little bit," Mocs coach Russ Huesman said. "Their legs are tired, but we've got some talented players and they just have to make sure we work as hard as we need to to win games.
"Anytime we have a day where we go twice, we'll continue to work on situational stuff in the afternoon because those things that can win you a football game."
The morning session had a different feel as players were looser and had a noticeable sense of relief since exams had concluded the summer class schedule the day before. More than 50 players had taken summer classes and everyone now has a couple of weeks before having to register for their fall schedule.
Junior defensive lineman Daniel Ring admitted the days leading up to final exams had been stressful and said what he was most looking forward to was being able to take a nap in the afternoon.
"I was about to pass out on the elevator yesterday just from being so tired after getting only about four hours sleep each of the last two nights," said Ring, who had studied for his online Exercise Physiology class. "It was a really tough class with a lot of science and math and about how muscles work in the human body. I was stressing and had been up all night studying and then coming out for practice, so it was tough.
"Being out on the field is a chance to get away from it all, and now it's awesome to focus just on football instead of anything else."
Former Bradley Central star and Navy transfer James Stovall continues to progress from offseason shoulder surgery and could return to practice by the time preseason camp ends. That would give the Mocs another big bodied receiver to add to what has already become one of the most competitive positions as far as playing time.
"He's way ahead of schedule," Mocs coach Russ Huesman said. "He should be ready to play this season. I don't know when, but he's progressed really fast and he should be back on the field soon. You just have to give him time to heal."
UTC will host its annual "30 minutes or less" season ticket promotion today. Coach Huesman, as well as team members, Mocs Spirit Squad and athletics staff will deliver season tickets within 30 minutes of purchase or the order is free. Delivery area includes a five-mile radius of McKenzie Arena that encompasses the UTC campus, downtown, North Shore and Southside areas and orders must be made between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. (EDT).
Season tickets start at $50 for youth, alumni, faculty and staff and only orders made over the phone are eligible for the promotion. Contact the ticket office at 423-266-6627 for more information. The first home game for the 16th-ranked Mocs is against 8th-ranked Jacksonville State on Sept. 6. UTC also hosts Samford (Sept. 27), VMI (Oct. 4), Mercer (Oct. 25) and Wofford (Nov. 8).
Contact Stephen Hargis at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6293.