The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga offense has driven into the red zone 38 times this season, the most of any football team in the Southern Conference.
The 20th-ranked Mocs have scored either a touchdown (23) or a field goal on 26 of those trips, the sixth-best percentage in the league. They've come up empty on four field-goal attempts, however, and more disturbing to coach Russ Huesman are UTC's six red-zone turnovers.
"Pathetic" is how he described that statistic, which includes three fumbles and three interceptions.
The Mocs (5-2, 4-1) are tied for fourth in the league in turnover margin at plus-5, with 12 interceptions and 10 fumble recoveries. Their 22 takeaways lead the league, but their 17 turnovers are the third most. Only Western Carolina (24) and The Citadel (27) have more, and those teams have a combined one SoCon win.
Quarterback B.J. Coleman has had three passes picked off in the end zone, and running backs Erroll Wynn and Keon Williams have fumbled inside the 5-yard line.
Huesman is concerned enough about UTC's fumbles inside the 10 at both ends of the field that he issued an edict to the team: If a ball carrier fumbles inside the 10, he's out for the rest of the game.
"I was trying to make a point about how important it is," Huesman said. "It's costing you points and it's giving [the opponent] points."
Wynn, who is averaging a team-high 81.7 yards per game, said the backs have to do a better job protecting the ball, starting Saturday against Elon (2-5, 1-3).
"One thing we can take care of is ourselves, and if I wouldn't have [fumbled] then it wouldn't have happened," Wynn said. "In the future I'll make sure that the ball won't come out."
The Mocs and Elon are second and third, respectively, in the SoCon in total offense. UTC is averaging 431.4 yards per game - a stat buoyed by last week's 568-yard outburst at Furman - and Elon is close behind at 421.7.
Elon quarterback Scott Riddle, the SoCon's all-time leader in passing yardage, leads the league with 315.4 yards per game. Coleman is second with 267.3.
The Mocs began Tuesday's practice at Scrappy Moore Field at 2:15 p.m., 90 minutes earlier than normal, because of the storms in the area. UTC is on fall break, so the change didn't cause any class conflicts. ... Center Justin Galyon (back/hip), running back J.J. Jackson (concussion) and wideout Chris Marshall (quad) missed practice with injuries.