ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT

On the checklist of things the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga football team wanted to accomplish during spring practice, little, if anything, didn't get done.

That doesn't mean everything went perfect, far from it, but it was a productive spring, coach Russ Huesman said.

"The kids worked hard and we got a lot done," Huesman said.

The offense and defense found replacements, albeit young and inexperienced ones in some cases, for the starters and backups they lost from last season -- especially at wide receiver, linebacker and on the defensive line.

Those young and inexperienced players -- such as wideout Marlon Anthony, linebacker Gunner Miler and cornerback Kadeem Wise, all of whom redshirted as freshman last fall -- got plenty of repetitions and aren't quite as green as they were in February.

The Mocs wrapped up their spring on Saturday with the Blue & Gold Game and showed flashes of the work UTC has done during the past seven weeks, but the game wasn't a true reflection since the squad was split into two teams.

Huesman said the game was a "good ending" to the spring, but he wasn't too happy with what he saw from the defenses, which gave up a combined six touchdowns in the first half and numerous big pass plays.

"We're not ready on defense yet," Huesman said. "We're not close yet; we've got to get better."

Two players that made position changes, Joel Bradford and Chris Lewis-Harris, had as good a spring as anyone. Lewis-Harris moved to safety after starting 17 games at cornerback during his first two seasons, and drew rave reviews from both Huesman and defensive coordinator Adam Fuller.

After moving from wide receiver to defensive back last spring, Bradford moved back to wideout and quickly emerged as one of quarterback B.J. Coleman's go-to guys. Bradford had seven catches for 144 yards and a touchdown in the spring game.

"I learned a lot this spring, just with coaching and with B.J.," Bradford said. "I feel really comfortable with where I am right now, and now all I have to do is go into the summer and improve."

The Mocs entered the spring with just two quarterbacks on the roster, Coleman and freshman Graham Nichols. After a slow start that included a nervous-looking 5-for-14 showing in the first scrimmage, Nichols made huge strides during the final few weeks of practice.

Nichols was named the offensive MVP of the spring game after completing 16 of 25 passes for 282 yards and two touchdowns.

"It was a real bright spot, some of the throws he was making," offensive coordinator Marcus Satterfield said.

Satterfield said he had some specific goals for the offense this spring and all of them were met.

"We wanted to not focus on drop-back (passes) and focus on play-action pass and screens, running the ball and protecting the quarterback," he said. "We worked really hard on running the ball and our play-action game really evolved over the last two weeks, and I think it really came together (Saturday) and helped us be productive.

"I feel a lot better than I did this time last year," he said, referring to the Mocs' first spring practice with the new coaching staff.

Coleman hadn't yet transferred from Tennessee at the point. Going against the first-team defense Saturday, Coleman was 17-of-31 for 269 yards, with two touchdowns and an interception.

"We've got a different mindset when it comes to the offense that we're starting to be able to get into," he said. "We're getting in a little deeper now. ... It's the spring when you're not game-planning for everybody, you're just getting better."

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT