Mocs have their eyes on LSU star Derrius Guice

Mocs have their eyes on LSU star Derrius Guice

September 7th, 2017 by Gene Henley in Sports - College

LSU running back Derrius Guice breaks into the open against BYU last Saturday in New Orleans. Guice rushed for 122 yards and two touchdowns as the Tigers won 27-0.

Photo by Scott Threlkeld

The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga's defense has already face one five-star prospect this football season.

Saturday night, the Mocs will face another.

Derrius Guice, LSU's preseason All-America running back, will be the leader for the Football Bowl Subdivision's 12th-ranked Tigers (1-0) when they host the Football Championship Subdivision's 13th-ranked Mocs (0-1) in "Death Valley" in Baton Rouge, La.

The 7:30 p.m. game, once set to air on an SEC Network alternate channel, has been moved to the SEC Network's main station due to Florida's game against Northern Colorado being moved from an evening kickoff to noon because of Hurricane Irma, which is on course to hit Florida this weekend.

Linebacker coach Matt Feeney embraces Tae Davis (19) before the game. The University of Chattanooga Mocs met the Jacksonville State Gamecocks in the Guardian Credit Union FCS Kickoff at the Carmton Bowl in Montgomery, Alabama on August 26, 2017.

Linebacker coach Matt Feeney embraces Tae Davis (19)...

Photo by Robin Rudd /Times Free Press.

There will be a watch party for the UTC-LSU game at Pin Strikes, with football raffles and drink specials, along with bowling and arcade games.

Guice took over for the injured Leonard Fournette during the 2016 season and ended up leading the Southeastern Conference in rushing yards (1,387) and SEC running backs in touchdowns (15). He had two games with at least 250 rushing yards and has proven to be a big-play threat, with seven of his 18 career touchdowns covering at least 40 yards.

The 5-foot-11, 218-pound junior had 122 yards and a pair of scores in the Tigers' season-opening 27-0 win over BYU, leading a 296-yard rushing attack.

"It's not just him. They've got a couple of guys," UTC defensive coordinator Tom Kaufman said. "They have three to four guys that are very, very good, so we're going have to tackle, because offensively, they challenge you everywhere you can possibly be challenged.

"It's an extraordinary challenge, and we'll see what we can do."

The Mocs faced former Auburn Tigers running back Roc Thomas in the season-opening 27-13 loss to Jacksonville State, and for the most part hemmed him up. Thomas did break free for a 74-yard run and a touchdown, but his 18 other carries netted only 48 yards. Kaufman and Mocs head coach Tom Arth said discipline — namely eye discipline — becomes important because of everything LSU offensive coordinator Matt Canada does on offense.

With their first game followed by an open date, the Mocs were able to see where they made some of their mistakes against the Gamecocks, and UTC spent a large portion of its off week working to clean up such errors.

"Thomas is a talented guy," UTC linebacker Tae Davis said. "We're going to have to bring it. We're going to have to compete and see what happens.

"We fixed some things last week, cleaned some things up, and we're executing better, getting our checks better and just communicating all-around better."

Davis said one of the keys of facing a backfield like LSU's is not getting frustrated "when things happen." UTC coaches have been preaching gap assignments, gang-tackling and being in the right position at all times. Kaufman said if his team does that, "we've got a chance."

Arth added that being prepared prior to the ball being snapped will be key as well.

"The biggest thing for us is understanding what our rules are as far as pre-snap motions and shifts, because it's problematic," Arth said. "They're a difficult offense to prepare for. Take away the talent they have, and what they do and how they do it is (still) a challenge.

"If we manage our responsibilities and have our eyes in the right place, it's going to come down to the ability to make the tackle."

Contact Gene Henley at ghenley@timesfreepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @genehenleytfp.


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