Chattanooga Mocs adjust approach for season opener

Chattanooga Mocs adjust approach for season opener

July 17th, 2014 by Stephen Hargis in Sports - College

UTC head football coach Russ Huesman is seen during the Mocs' spring football scrimmage Friday at Finley Stadium.

Photo by Doug Strickland/Times Free Press.

The day of the week for the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga's football season opener is the same, but the preparation leading to the Thursday night kickoff at Central Michigan will be noticeably different than last year.

After reviewing the days leading up to last year's disappointing season-opening loss to UT-Martin, Mocs coach Russ Huesman said he and his staff will take a different approach to preseason camp as the team gears up for the Aug. 28 road trip against a much tougher opponent.

Huesman would not give specific details, but did hint that the staff will take a different approach in trying to balance the work needed to have the team ready for the physical challenge of opening as underdogs against the FBS-level Chippewas, while also trying to maintain fresh legs and avoiding injury.

"We'll find ways to take days off or be more careful on when to run and how much contact we have," Huesman said. "It's not a perfect science but we'll change some things up and get in a routine that we feel will help us be ready for the first game."

Players report for preseason camp July 29 and begin practice the following day.

Huesman did admit that while he doesn't want the Mocs to have another Thursday home opener, he does like beginning the season on a Thursday on the road.

"I won't open at home on a Thursday again while I'm here because there's just too many ways that the guys aren't in a typical game-day routine," Huesman said. "They have class all day and then have to get ready for the game and that just seems to throw things off. But I don't mind it on the road because we'll have our typical routine going into a game where we'll travel there, have our walk-through and then be ready.

"Plus it gives you a couple of extra days to heal so I'm excited to open early on the road."

Pollard earns watch list honor

Mocs kicker/punter Nick Pollard has been named to the College Football Performance Awards (CFPA) punter watch list for the second straight year. Pollard has handled the kicking duties the past three seasons for UTC and punted for the last two, averaging 40.7 yards per punt last year, using mostly a rugby style that results in a bouncing, rolling kick that's tough for opposing returners to handle.

In the game against Wofford last year, Pollard set a school record with a 54.7 yard average, including a career-long 78-yarder to earn Southern Conference Special Teams Player of the Week.

Four other Mocs -- quarterback Jacob Huesman, running back Keon Williams, tight end Faysal Shafaat and defensive end Davis Tull -- all earned spots on the CFPA watch lists for their respective positions as well.

Mocs host 7-on-7 tournament

The Mocs will host a 24-team 7-on-7 passing tournament Saturday with games being played at Finley Stadium, Scrappy Moore Field and the intramural fields. The championship game will be held at Finley and there is also a Big Man Challenge that day on campus.

Contact Stephen Hargis at shargis@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6293.