• UTC (0-0) vs. Central Michigan (0-0)
• Thursday, 7 p.m.
• Mt. Pleasant, Mich.
• ESPN3; 96.1 FM
One of the last remaining depth-chart questions for the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga football program has been answered. Mocs coach Russ Huesman has tabbed sophomore Henrique Ribeiro to handle kicking all extra points and field goals, and senior Nick Pollard will continue kicking off as well as punting.
"It was pretty even. They both kicked well," Huesman said. "But to put all that on one guy, to me, is too much. In my mind that's kind of the way I wanted to do it, but Henrique had to win the job. He had to go out and prove he could handle it and he has, so I feel like that's the best route to go."
Ribeiro redshirted last year, while Pollard took on every kicking chore. Pollard made all 43 extra-point attempts last season, was 5-of-9 in field-goal attempts and had a 40.7-yard punting average. Both kickers have been consistent throughout preseason camp, but Ribeiro has the stronger leg, making two 50-plus yarders in scrimmages so far.
The Mocs practiced late Monday evening at Finley Stadium, beginning at 8 and going for less than two hours, with much of the offensive work focused on tempo as they prepare for Thursday night's season opener at Central Michigan.
"It's not necessarily about running more plays in practice or a game, but more making sure the timing of what we want to run fits," said offensive coordinator Jeff Durden. "It's hard to get timing down if your legs are underneath you, but we seemed in good shape tonight.
"We want to cut a hot path to help control all the defenses we see, to take them out of some blitzes and things they want to do. I saw some bounce in their step tonight, and that was good to see. I think they felt the sense of urgency today, it finally hit them that the game is just about here."
Both teams Thursday will feature young receiving corps. Aside from senior Tommy Hudson, UTC likely will have a receiver rotation that includes three sophomores and three freshmen, while Central Michigan will have freshmen Corey Willis and Eric Cooper alongside senior Titus Davis, who is climbing the program's career receiving stats.
However, UTC won't have to face freshman receiver Mark Chapman, who had been drawing raves from coaches during preseason camp before breaking his collarbone. Chapman will miss several games.
UTC has announced the Sept. 6 home opener against Jacksonville State is a "whiteout" game. The Mocs will wear white-on-white uniforms and fans are encouraged to wear white to Finley Stadium. There will be plenty of giveaways, including white T-shirts at the gate, for the 6 p.m. kickoff.
Jacksonville State is ranked No. 6 in the Sports Network FCS poll, while UTC is No. 14, the program's highest preseason ranking ever, marking only the fourth time two ranked teams have met at Finley in the regular season.
A downtown pep rally is planned for Sept. 5 at Miller Plaza.
Contact Stephen Hargis at email@example.com or 423-757-6293.