Russ Huesman confident Mocs headed to the postseason

UTC head football coach Russ Huesman yells to players during the Mocs' home football game against the Wofford Terriers at Finely Stadium on Saturday, Nov. 12, 2016, in Chattanooga, Tenn.

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. - In or out?

According to University of Tennessee at Chattanooga football coach Russ Huesman, there's no question.

The Mocs finished their regular season with a 31-3 loss at Football Bowl Subdivision top-ranked Alabama on Saturday, a performance that was by far UTC's best in its past five games.

It leaves the Mocs with an 8-3 record, with seven wins over Football Championship Subdivision teams and losses to the Crimson Tide, plus fifth-ranked The Citadel and 19th-ranked Wofford of the FCS and Southern Conference.

East Tennessee State defeated Samford 15-14 Saturday in Johnson City, Tenn., handing the Bulldogs their fourth loss of the season. That moved UTC into third place in the SoCon standings and most likely solidified its spot in the 24-team FCS playoffs field, which will be announced at 11 a.m. today on ESPNU.

Samford's loss definitely helped the Mocs and will make for some tense moments in Birmingham, Ala., this morning, but Huesman said Samford's result wouldn't have had any bearing on UTC anyway.

"We were getting in the playoffs anyway," he said. "We were getting in. It (doubt) is always in the back of your mind, but we were getting in. They couldn't keep us out."

Should the Mocs make the playoffs, Saturday's performance will be one they can build on. They recorded three sacks against Alabama, which ties the most given up by the Tide this season (Oct. 22 against Texas A&M). Vantrel McMillan had 1.5 sacks, while Dale Warren had one and Keionta Davis was awarded a half-sack.

"It's just confidence," Davis said. "You didn't know how you were going to perform out here. We came out and played good, and we know we can play against any team. Guys get that confidence back that didn't have it, or they're adding on to their confidence.

"That's all we need to get back going."

Notes

Tae Davis, who grew up in Oxford, Ala., had nine tackles to lead the Mocs on defense. He also nearly blocked a punt in the first quarter. C.J. Board finished with 53 yards receiving, moving ahead of Rocky Turner (1968-71) for seventh all-time in yards (1,874) on the UTC career list. Henrique Ribeiro's field goal moved him into a tie for first all-time in field goals made (44, tied with Matt Vick) for the program.

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