UTC running game getting attention

UTC running game getting attention

March 8th, 2011 by John Frierson in Sports

Staff Photo by John Rawlston/Chattanooga Times Free Press Keon Williams runs with the ball as UTC holds spring football practice at Finley Stadium on Monday afternoon.

Staff Photo by John Rawlston/Chattanooga Times Free Press Keon...

The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga offense has spent much of its time during spring practice so far improving the running game.

During their 6-5 season in 2010, the Mocs averaged 152.8 yards rushing per game and 277.2 passing. Offensive coordinator Marcus Satterfield said he wants those numbers to be more balanced, which is why the focus so far this spring has been on running the ball.

"We feel pretty good we can play-action and throw and catch; we're feeling good from that end of the offense," he said. "We've just got to make sure that when it's time to put it all together that we can run the football."

With quarterback B.J. Coleman returning, along with wideouts Joel Bradford, Brian Sutherland and Marlon Anthony, Satterfield said it would be easy for the offense to line up this spring and have success throwing the ball.

Latest line

A piece of paper on the door outside the offense's meeting room Monday at McKenzie Arena read: "Your blocking is a sign of your commitment to the team."

Offensive line coach Geep Wade said the line had "ups and downs" during Saturday's scrimmage. The linemen opened some running lanes and mostly protected the quarterback well, but they did allow several sacks.

"We know what we're doing, but we're just not executing at times because we're not moving our feet and stuff like that," Wade said. "The O-line can move their feet in the rain, so that's not an excuse. We're preaching feet, feet, feet."

"But in the grand scheme of things, when we look up and have to get a first down next year to win the game, it's probably not going to help us," he said.

The Mocs have two more practices, Wednesday and Friday, before spring break. Once practice resumes on March 23, Satterfield said, more attention will be spent on the passing game.

During Monday's practice, backs J.J. Jackson and Chris Awuah had some good runs, while Keon Williams was sidelined for most of it with back spasms. On the final play of practice for the first team, Awuah broke free for a 30-yard run.

"I feel like I'm just running with a chip on my shoulder from a sluggish performance last year," Awuah said. "I'm just trying to get on the field whatever way, running the ball or catching the ball."

Williams led the backs in last Saturday's scrimmage with eight carries for 60 yards. Jackson had 12 for 40 yards and Awuah ran four times for 11 yards, including a 3-yard touchdown.

Scrimmage 'not bad'

Saturday's scrimmage, UTC's first of the spring, was "not great but not bad," head coach Russ Huesman said after studying the video.

"Defensively, I don't know if we were intense enough, but it wasn't awful," he said. "Offensively, we were OK. I thought [right guard] Nick Gipson had a great scrimmage, and we need him to play well and come along and he is."

Huesman said the Mocs will scrimmage some more at the end of Wednesday night's practice.

Contact John Frierson at jfrierson@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6268. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/mocsbeatCTFP.