UTC (6-3, 4-3 SoCon) vs. MERCER (4-5, 3-3)
1 p.m. at Finley Stadium
VIDEO & RADIO
ESPN+ & 96.1 FM
Despite a lack of consistency at quarterback due to injuries, Mercer ranks in the top half of the Football Championship Subdivision in most offensive categories. Three players — redshirt sophomore Kaelen Riley and redshirt freshmen Harrison Frost and Robert Riddle — have started behind center this season for the Bears, with Frost getting the nod last week. Though not nearly as effective as Calhoun High School graduate Riley or McCallie alum Riddle have been, Frost nearly led the Bears to an upset of Southern Conference leader East Tennessee State before they lost 21-18. The Mocs must limit what Mercer wants to do on offense, which if Frost is the quarterback will be run the ball effectively and let Frost — who was 15-for-31 passing for 186 yards, two interceptions and no touchdowns last week — throw when necessary.
ONE TO WATCH
University of Tennessee at Chattanooga quarterback Nick Tiano wore a walking boot earlier this week, but is expected to start this season. The catalyst of the UTC offense, Tiano has thrown for 2,267 yards and 15 scores this year. If he can have any level of a rushing attack, with junior Tyrell Price and senior Alex Trotter able to churn out any yards, Tiano will have time to sit back and pick apart a Mercer defense that ranks 119th among the 125 FCS programs, having allowed 350 or more yards in eight of nine games this season. The Bears' rushing defense is ranked 106th, and their passing defense is 112th in yards allowed and 113th in efficiency.
IN THE END
UTC's home and SoCon finale will serve as both military appreciation day and senior day, with the Mocs honoring active duty personnel, veterans and 14 players. The pregame festivities will be nice, but for a senior class that has experienced two playoff runs and at least one league championship in most cases, a win would be much nicer. Frost is listed first on the depth chart for the Bears entering the game, but Mercer coach Bobby Lamb didn't rule out the possibility of Riddle (66-of-101 passing for 851 yards with six touchdowns and three interceptions this season) or Riley (68-of-126, 1,123 yards, 10 touchdowns, two interceptions) playing. Regardless, a pass-heavy attack led by Tiano will lead the Mocs to their seventh win and give the program a lift going into next week's regular-season finale at South Carolina of the Southeastern Conference.
UTC 24, Mercer 16