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UTC runningback Derrick Craine rushes around Woffard safety JoJo Tillery during the Mocs' home football game against the Wofford Terriers at Finely Stadium on Saturday, Nov. 12, 2016, in Chattanooga, Tenn.

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Mocs hope their offensive speed will help them against Weber State

From video study, the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga offensive coaches think they may be able to use a couple of advantages against Weber State in Saturday's 2 p.m. playoff game at Finley Stadium.

UTC's biggest perceived advantage — speed — could be the biggest key.

The 11th-ranked Mocs (8-3) will face a Weber State defense that ranked first against the pass in the Big Sky Conference. The Wildcats have allowed only 197.1 yards a game through the air, while their 19 passing touchdowns given up ranked second.

The Mocs feel as though there are some similarities between the Wildcats and the team they just faced, Alabama, in how they go about business on the defensive side of the ball.

"Schematically, they're very similar," UTC offensive lineman Josh Cardiello said. "They have linebackers that fly around and make plays, so it'll be good."

One of those linebackers, senior Tre'Von Johnson, earned first-team All-Big Sky honors with 87 tackles, 3.5 sacks and 10.5 tackles for loss. But the unit has only 11 sacks, the fewest in the conference.

"They have a bend-but-don't-break defense," Mocs offensive coordinator Jeff Durden said. "You've just got to be very efficient offensively against them, but I think our speed will give them some issues, if that's one thing I can look at. That part of the country, it's hard for me to evaluate, but I know that this league where we play (Southern Conference) and our football team has a lot of team speed.

"I hope that our speed will be an advantage."

Opponents were able to find some success early in the season on the ground against the Wildcats, who have allowed 192.1 rushing yards per game. They allowed 428 yards to Football Bowl Subdivision opponent Utah State in the season opener and 310 yards to South Dakota a week later, but since then, only one team — Southern Utah — topped the 200-yard mark.

In the regular-season home finale, the Wildcats limited Cal Poly, a playoff team with the nation's top-ranked rushing attack (360.6 yards per game) to 190 yards on the ground in a 22-15 victory.

The Mocs' attack should be as balanced of an offense as the Wildcats have faced all season. UTC has 2,232 yards passing and 2,217 rushing for the season.

"They face a lot of teams that throw the ball, and we have that ability," UTC running back Derrick Craine said. "We're going to have to try to find some different run lanes and stuff within their defense, because we don't get to see a lot of it on film."

Contact Gene Henley at ghenley@timesfreepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @genehenleytfp.

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