Most of the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga football players are back in town, their lazy summer days now mostly a thing of the past.
"I'm really happy everybody's back," junior safety Jordan Tippit said. "We've got a lot of work to do, and we've got 60 days, or a little less, to get it done before we play App State."
The Mocs open their season against the Mountaineers on Sept. 4.
Most of the Mocs - "probably 90 percent of the returners," coach Russ Huesman said - began a voluntary workout regimen this week under the direction of strength coach Scott Brincks.
The high-intensity, four-week workout program will lead the Mocs - many of whom have been in Chattanooga for most of the summer - to the start of preseason practice on Aug. 4.
Along with running and lifting weights, the Mocs will conduct 7-on-7 practices a few days a week. The team had its first running session at 6:15 Wednesday morning. According to Tippit, who earned All-Southern Conference honors last season, there was no easing back into training.
Tippit said the players ran 18 110-yard sprints, with 45 seconds of rest in between, and did some gassers (times runs across the width of the field) at the end.
"It was pretty rough," Tippit said. "You always have a few guys not make it, but for the most part everybody fought through it even if they didn't make their times. We've got four weeks to put in the work and get ready."
The Mocs did a 7-on-7 afterward, as they did Thursday afternoon at the recently renovated Scrappy Moore Field, and that was a lot more fun, Tippit said.
"It was fun to get back out there and see everybody moving around, talking and communicating with everybody - just getting back in the swing of things," Tippit said. "It's always good to be playing football, no matter if it's 7-on-7 or team or just going through 1-on-1s."
Tippit and sophomore defensive end Josh Williams were recently named to Phil Steele's preseason first-team All-SoCon team. Junior quarterback B.J. Coleman, senior left tackle Chris Harr, senior tight end Garrett Hughes and senior cornerback Buster Skrine made the second team.
UTC will host a women's football clinic at Finley Stadium on July 30. The clinic will include instruction on the basics of the game, a panel discussion and a Q&A session with Huesman and his wife, Amy. ... As of Thursday, 1,826 season tickets have been sold. UTC is trying to break last year's record of 2,527.
The Mocs' opener against Appalachian State will be televised by SportSouth and kick off at 3 p.m. instead of 6. The SoCon announced the TV dates for the league's eight "SoCon Saturdays" on Thursday, and UTC has just one scheduled appearance.
However, the games for the last two broadcast dates, Nov. 13 and 20, have not been set.
SportSouth and the SoCon will pick the most important games at that point in the season.
UTC is hoping the App State opener draws one of the largest crowds ever to Finley Stadium, and the perception is that a night game would lead to greater attendance. Ultimately, Huesman said, he and athletic director Rick Hart agreed that the chance to reach a TV audience from around the South trumped the potential slight hit at the box office.