The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga football team knows all too well what it's like to play from behind.
This week the Mocs are working to change that.
Coach Tom Arth said he wanted his team to "be the aggressors" after a 30-10 loss at Mercer last Saturday. The Mocs have trailed for 287 minutes and 55 seconds out of a possible 420 minutes in seven games this season — the equivalent of two-thirds of the game time — and with the offense having been a work in progress they haven't shown the ability to strike quickly and get back in games.
Arth said the Mocs have to do a better job of "feeding off each other."
"We're up 3-0 (against Mercer) but then let them come back and score," Arth said. "Or the defense gets a stop in a big situation where we can take advantage and get right back in this thing, and we go three-and-out. We're not playing well enough together to put a team in that situation. We need to apply pressure to ourselves during the week and feel it every single day; then on Saturday we need to take that pressure and apply it to the other team, and that's something that's really a focus for us.
"It was last week and to a greater extent this week."facebook
Offensive coordinator Justin Rascati said UTC continues to work on running the ball, which in turn could open aspects of the passing game the Mocs haven't been able to roll out yet.
"I thought we were better last game at controlling the line of scrimmage, but we've got to be a little bit more productive in the run game, which I think will help the offense tremendously," Rascati said. "I think we've shown the ability to throw the football, but we've got to be able to have a balanced attack.
"We'll get better this week, and with a week's worth of practice we'll get that much better and be ready for Citadel."
The Citadel's Bulldogs are 3-3 overall and tied with UTC (1-6) at 1-3 in Southern Conference games. Getting a lead against them is extra important because of the limited amount of possessions the Mocs expect to get against a ball-control, triple-option offense that ranks fifth in the country at 293.5 rushing yards per game.
Instead of the Mocs having to adjust their game plan because of a deficit, they hope to flip the script and do the same thing to opponents, starting this week with The Citadel.
"We've been put in a lot of pressure situations, being down as much as we've been down," freshman quarterback Cole Copeland said. "We really haven't come out and given them the pressure to have them have to go score a touchdown to get back in the game.
"We've got to work on starting and finishing."
Arth said the coaching staff puts the players through situational drills so they will be ready mentally for similar scenarios in games, but he also wants the Mocs to "hurt" when they don't have success in practice. The idea is that will increase their determination to succeed in games.
"We've always done a lot of situational work," Arth said. "We talk about it as coaches all the time with our players, and I think it's developing a mentality that really is that play. If it's first-and-10 and the scout offense gains 4 yards, we're always like, 'We'll get it fixed the next play,' and that's what bothers me. That's where we need to be better and play every one of those situations like it's Saturday.
"It should hurt us; if we go out there and work on a two-minute, end-of-half situation and we go three-and-out, if I'm Cole I go back to my room and I'm upset. It's going to bother me all night long. If I'm the offense, it's going to bother me all night long, and vice versa. If we go down (in practice) and score at the end of the half, that should ruin my night (if I'm on defense).
"The more we emphasize it and the more we challenge ourselves, that's the only way you figure out how you're going to respond on Saturdays, especially when faced with adverse situations."
Contact Gene Henley at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @genehenleytfp.