UTC Mocs practice in full pads to prepare for The Citadel

UTC defensive lineman Taylor Reynolds (94) hits Shorter's Demerious Owensby (35) in the backfield. The University of Tennessee/Chattanooga Mocs hosted the Shorter University Hawks in NCAA football action on Sept. 1, 2016.

The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga football players jogged down to the Scrappy Moore practice field Tuesday with a different look and feel.

photo UTC's Taylor Reynolds (94) defends against Shorter quarterback Tyler Pullum (7). The University of Tennessee/Chattanooga Mocs hosted the Shorter University Hawks in NCAA football action on Sept. 1, 2016.

With a big matchup coming up Saturday against The Citadel, the No. 8 team in the Football Championship Subdivision coaches' poll, the third-ranked Mocs practiced in full pads Tuesday for the first time this regular season. They're expected to practice in full pads today and Thursday as they prepare for the Bulldogs' rough, rugged triple-option attack.

"Most of the time we just go in shells," coach Russ Huesman said. "You don't see it much, but when you play option teams, you get low blocks - legal but low blocks - and we've got to practice against them at a great speed or we'll be on the ground the whole game.

"Our guys are mature enough to understand the importance of this game and how good this team is they're playing, so it won't affect them at all."

The Bulldogs are averaging 388.8 yards per game rushing, with a 497.0-yard average in their last three wins over Gardner-Webb, Western Carolina and North Greenville. The Bulldogs topped 500 yards rushing in each of the last two.

After missing the season opener due to suspension, quarterback Dominique Allen has started the last two games. He's currently fourth on the team in rushing yards, averaging 59.8 per game, with three touchdowns.

Fullback Tyler Renew has 415 yards to lead the team, while A-backs Reggie Williams, Cam Jackson and Rod Johnson have topped the 200-yard mark for the season.

One thing the Mocs will have going for them this week is that most of their defenders have seen the Bulldogs' triple-option offense, having gone against it last season. Of UTC's 11 2016 defensive starters, five started last season's game, as did sophomore Isaiah Mack. C.J. Fritz and Justin King, starters this season, played as well.

Junior Taylor Reynolds was injured during the 2015 game and said that there was going to be a lot of "attention to detail" during practice this week.

"I know I have to go out, have a good practice, be fundamentally sound and have good technique. We know what it's going to take to win the game," he said. "We have to really just be disciplined with all the stuff they do. I've practiced against it a a couple of times, but it's going to be totally different Saturday.

"Just have to go through the week, be disciplined and be prepared for what they'll do."

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