The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga football team has had 47 players get into more than two games this season, and 12 of those have played exclusively or primarily on special teams.
That means in a typical game, the 20th-ranked Mocs (5-2, 4-1 Southern Conference) are using just 35 players on offense and defense.
"We don't really have a two-deep [depth chart] for every position," coach Russ Huesman said earlier this month.
That's because of scholarship limitations handed down by the NCAA for poor historical Academic Progress Rate performance.
"Fortunately we've stayed healthy and survived and haven't really had anybody get hurt," Huesman said, adding, "I'm going to knock on some wood here."
Several players have missed a game or two with injuries, while backup defensive lineman De'Markus Lee (leg) and kicker Nick Pollard (hip) have been out since the opener. The Mocs lost backup linebacker Bo Dyer before the season started.
The NCAA's APR penalties limit UTC to 55.18 scholarships, which can be spread over 68 players. The Football Championship Subdivision maximums are 63 scholarships and 85 players.
This season the Mocs are using just 50.85 scholarships due to offensive lineman David Clemons' late decision to leave school and, Huesman said, uncertainty during last year's recruiting period, when UTC didn't know how many scholarships it was going to have available.
The Mocs, who host Elon (2-5, 1-3) on Saturday, also are limited to 16 hours of "countable activity" - meetings, practice and games - over a five-day week, rather than the standard 20 hours over six days.
"The [scholarship] numbers situation is the biggest thing," Huesman said of the different penalties. "We need more numbers in the program."
The UTC offense has 19 players in its regular rotation, and the defense uses 16. A lack of depth hasn't been an issue for the offense this season, but the defense has had some worrisome moments. The defensive line is the thinnest area with just one backup each at the end and tackle positions.
"I'd rather have more, but it just is what it is right now," defensive coordinator Adam Fuller said.
Some help is on the way. Based on the data from the 2009-10 academic year, the Mocs will move out of the historical-penalty phase when the new APR numbers are released in the spring. Senior associate athletic director Laura Herron said the football team, like every UTC sport, scored above 933 in 2009-10.
Herron said the worst-case scenario for scholarships next season was 61. In addition, by moving out of the historical-penalty phase, UTC also will get its full allotment of activity time back.
The part of the team hurt most by the scholarship limitations, Huesman said, is special teams. Because UTC wanted to redshirt as many true freshmen this season as possible - only three of the 14 scholarship freshmen have played - that has left the Mocs thin on the punt and kickoff teams.
Huesman said UTC will likely sign around 19 players for next season. The Mocs will lose only nine seniors from this season's two-deep roster, so they should be able to redshirt nearly all of the incoming class.
That won't help UTC's depth issues much next season, Huesman said, "but the following year we'll finally feel good about our numbers."
Former UTC linebacker Joseph Thornton signed a pro contract this week with Tri-Cities Fever in Kennewick, Wash., of the National Indoor Football League. ... Center Justin Galyon practiced Thursday and is expected to play Saturday.