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UTC head football coach Russ Huesman shouts to players after a Mars Hill touchdown during the Mocs' football game against the Lions at Finley Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 12, 2015, in Chattanooga, Tenn. UTC won 44-34.

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Coach Huesman vows defensive changes for Mocs

University of Tennessee at Chattanooga football coach Russ Huesman didn't mince words when asked about the play of his defense after the 10th-ranked Mocs' 44-34 win over NCAA Division II school Mars Hill on Saturday.

For the second straight week, it wasn't good. The Mocs gave up a number of big plays, allowing 428 yards of total offense against the Lions. Mars Hill had plays of 73 and 75 yards for touchdowns and a 41-yard gain on a halfback pass.

"Defensively, we were horrible," said Huesman, who is known for his defensive background as a player and assistant coach. "It was an embarrassment; I can't fathom playing defense that bad with the players we have playing. They don't compete. This is an embarrassment, but we're going to get it fixed."

The seventh-year Mocs leader said that every time the ball snaps with his team on defense, he gets a feeling in the pit of his stomach that something bad is going to happen, and "it normally does." Huesman went as far as saying that "every job" is open on the defensive side of the ball, promising changes while adding that the starting defensive lineup for the game next week at Samford won't be named until game time.

"Obviously, we didn't have the defensive side of the ball ready," he said. "Nobody was getting off blocks; they were slopping around. I guarantee they watched the film and said that 'this is Mars Hill — they're a Division II team.' We didn't come ready to play; it was embarrassing."

Lucas Webb said the open competition going into such a big game could be positive for the Mocs.

"It's a good thing," he said. "Hopefully it will bring the best out of everybody, and guys can get confidence if they haven't had as many reps as they want to. Hopefully they'll have a shot to get as many, and hopefully guys that are returning can step their game up."

The extra yard

UTC quarterback Jacob Huesman set the school record for touchdown passes in a career, throwing his 53rd on the game's first drive on a 4-yard pass to Alphonso Stewart. The 6-foot-2, 220-pound senior also broke Chris Sanders' record for completions in a career.

Henrique Ribeiro has now made 51 consecutive extra points, which set a school record. Matt Vick had the old record. Like Jacob Huesman, Ribeiro prepped at Baylor.

Defensive back C.J. Fritz, a McCallie graduate, continued to make plays on special teams. A week after a big hit on the game's opening kickoff against Jacksonville State, Fritz recovered teammate C.J. Board's punt-return fumble that would have given the Lions the ball around midfield. The Mocs would score on that possession.

The Mocs finished with 265 yards passing and 253 yards rushing. It was the first time they went over the 250-yard mark in both categories in the same game since a 72-17 win over Mississippi Valley State on Sept. 16, 2000, when they had 316 yards rushing and 301 yards passing. That day, Cos DeMatteo had nine catches for 203 yards and six touchdowns.

* UTC wideouts Wil Young, Drae Bowles and Dejuan McQuarters registered the first receptions of their college careers Saturday.

Contact Gene Henley at ghenley@timesfreepress.com. Follow him at twitter.com/genehenleytfp.

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