Mocs have 'made strides' in prepping for LSU defense

Mocs have 'made strides' in prepping for LSU defense

September 8th, 2017 by Gene Henley in Sports - College

Maybe the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga offense gained an advantage last week watching video of LSU's game against Brigham Young.

The Mocs found out what didn't work.

UTC will take its swing at a LSU defense that didn't allow the Cougars to cross midfield in a 27-0 win in the Tigers' season opener in New Orleans. The Mocs play in Baton Rouge for the Tigers' home opener Saturday night at 7:30 on the SEC Network.

BYU was held to 97 yards of total offense on 36 plays. The Cougars' deepest advancements downfield were two drives that ended at their own 47-yard line, and they finished with negative-5 yards rushing.

The Mocs will be trying to improve on a rushing attack that netted 76 yards on 25 carries, with 63 of those yards coming in the final quarter, in a 27-13 loss to Jacksonville State on Aug. 26.

"I think we've made strides," center Josh Cardiello said this week. "We're not anywhere near our max potential, but as long as we keep making strides every week — and I think we made a stride from Jacksonville State into our bye week, and we've made another this week — and keep this train rolling, we can get really good."

The UTC coaching staff harps on the ability to run the ball, and the Mocs weren't able to do that effectively with running backs against the Gamecocks. Richardre Bagley and Darrell Bridges finished with 22 yards on 14 carries, combined.

Cardiello noted that, adding that "if we run the ball to what I think our abilities are, even if we don't score a point, and if we can show we can move the ball on a team like this, it'll do a lot for our confidence and really help us out in the long run."

The LSU defense is as talented as any in the country, rich with future NFL players — and that's even with defensive end Arden Key, projected by some as the top pick in the 2018 NFL draft, out with an injury. UTC coach Tom Arth said he feels the offensive staff have a good plan in place to be successful and take advantage of the things the Tigers do schematically, but a lot of the Mocs' success will hinge on how well they execute — which they did not do well at times in the loss to JSU.

"LSU is our next opponent. We take things week to week no matter who we play," UTC offensive coordinator Justin Rascati said. "They're talented, but so are we, and for us it's all about us. Our mistakes are self-inflicted wounds, and we have total control over it. We can't beat ourselves this week, so if we call a pass play we have to run the right routes; if we call a protection, we have to go to the right guy. If they beat us when we go to the right guy, or defend us when we run the right route, we'll tip our hat.

"I think we're as talented as anybody in the country, so if we know our job and do it to the best of our ability, we'll have a lot of success."

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