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Ridgeland's Darrell Bridges (10)

In each of their three games this season, the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga defenders have prepared for teams that run the spread offense, with the desire to get the ball out to players in space.

This week, the Mocs will face a different sort of attack.

In Saturday's opponent, Presbyterian College, the eighth-ranked Mocs will see a team that has nearly a 2-to-1 ratio of runs to passes. The Blue Hose (1-2) have carried the ball 122 times, with former Ridgeland standout Darrell Bridges being the workhorse. He has 79 of those carries for 313 yards and four of the team's five touchdowns.

UTC (2-1) will travel to Clinton, S.C., for the 7 p.m. nonconference game Saturday. UTC is coming off its best game defensively, when it allowed 58 yards on 31 carries in a 31-21 Southern Conference victory over Samford. The Mocs were credited with six sacks for 38 yards, which comes out of the opposing team's rushing total, so the Bulldogs' 25 official carries netted them 96 yards.

"I thought we defended the run well," UTC coach Russ Huesman said. "They had one 37-yard run on a jet sweep, but overall we did a good job."

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UTC defensive coordinator Adam Braithwaite congratulates defensive players as they come off the field during a game last season. Braithwaite expects a challenge from Jacksonville State's talented offense in Saturday's season opener at Finley Stadium.
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That run, by Kelvin McKnight, cut the Mocs' lead to the final margin with 12:40 to play. Take out that run and the Bulldogs had 59 yards, which was a particularly impressive defense performance with temperatures nearing 90 degrees on the field Saturday.

The Mocs expect to get a heavy dose of running plays this weekend against the Blue Hose, but they're also preparing for anything.

"Their percentages are heavy on the run, but I would think they would try to have a balanced attack," UTC defensive coordinator Adam Braithwaite said. "They are going to try to establish the run, then get some play-action stuff going and try to throw deep, but you never know what they're looking at us saying. You try to predict those things, but it's hard sometimes."

The Mocs have a solid pair of linebackers in senior A.J. Hampton and junior Nakevion Leslie, whom Braithwaite called "a pair of athletic guys that are able to make plays." They'll need to play a big part in stopping the Blue Hose run game.

"We have to fill our gaps well, do the scheme the coaches are putting in, play physical and get to the gaps before they do," Hampton said. "I feel me and Key (Leslie) are good run players, so I think we'll be able to handle it. We're focusing on keying on mistakes we've made the past few weeks and making the plays we're supposed to make."

Mocs get Weatherly

The Mocs received their third commitment for the 2016 season Tuesday when 6-foot-2 quarterback Zack Weatherly from Christ Presbyterian Academy in Nashville pledged to the program.

Weatherly has completed 65 percent of his passes the past two seasons for 3,710 yards and 50 touchdowns. He had 1,765 yards and 29 passing TDs as a junior while adding 557 yards and nine scores rushing.

Through four games in the 2015 season, he has thrown for 752 yards and six touchdowns with no interceptions while rushing for 115 yards and three scores for the Class 3A top-ranked Lions.

The three-star quarterback chose the Mocs over offers from Appalachian State, San Diego State and UT-Martin.

McMillan suspended

Vantrel McMillan has been suspended indefinitely from the football team for a violation of team rules after an incident at a weekend party (see page B1).

The 6-2, 240-pound junior defensive end has 11 tackles, three for lost yardage, a sack and an interception this season. He also has recovered a fumble.

He primarily had shared time with senior Toyvian Brand, who will play more in McMillan's absence. Sophomores Trevor Jachimowicz and D.J. Prather will be expected to contribute.

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

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