Tuesday’s practice at Scrappy Moore Field had a bit of a different feel to it than the several that preceded it. Instead of practicing against themselves, the Mocs were practicing against UT Martin.
For the first time, aside from Sunday’s brief, half-speed workout at Finley Stadium, Chattanooga began installing its game plan for the team’s Aug. 29 home opener against the Skyhawks.
“We got a lot done,” head coach Russ Huesman said. "This was probably what a normal Tuesday during a game week will be like.”
UTC utilized its scout teams for the first time, pinning them against the first- and second- team offenses and defenses for a few periods, but the Mocs also had team periods that featured the first-team offense against the second-team defense and vice versa.
“The big thing is when we go team versus the scouts we need to stay full speed, and not treat it like a walkthrough,” sophomore quarterback Jacob Huesman said. “You know though, I thought for the first practice back from camp it wasn’t bad.
“It’s a good thing we’ve got this full week to work on the little things.”
And while the Mocs, now just nine days away from their season opener, have plenty of things to focus on for their upcoming opponent — like who will be starting under center for the Skyhawks, or how to attack the team’s three-man defensive front — there’s still some of problems to fix in-house as well.
“As it has gone on I’ve notice fewer and fewer mental errors; we’re doing a heck of a lot better job lining up,” Jacob Huesman said. “We haven’t had as many problems, but still, sometimes somebody will run a wrong route or not hit the right landmark on a route. Those are the things we need to fix.”
Sidelined safeties: Senior safeties D.J. Key and Dean Haynes both remain out with injuries.
On Tuesday, Haynes was out of his walking boot for the first time since severely twisting his ankle on the first day of fall camp, but the North Carolina State transfer is still a ways away from making his return.
“I’m feeling a lot better without the boot on and just the ankle brace,” Haynes said. “I’m playing it by ear — by what the doctor says — and just trying my best to stay in shape.
"I'm going to play this year."
Haynes, who missed the first five games of 2012 with an foot injury, won’t be playing in the Mocs’ opener, though.
Key, who did not participate in spring practice, will likely be a game-time decision.
“We’re trying to get D.J. in there,” Huesman said. “We’re protecting it with the boot as long as we can. I think sometime this week the boot is going to come off, but it’s just going to be as he progresses ... That’ll determine whether he’ll play or not, but it’s probably going to go all the way up to game time before we make a decision.”
• Junior wide receiver Bryant Belew returned to practice Tuesday after missing several days of camp with a high ankle sprain.
• Junior defensive end Zack Rayl, who suffered a knee injury in last Saturday’s scrimmage, is most likely done for a while. “He’s going to be out,” Huesman said. “We’ll know something more in the next couple of days.”
Michael Murphy covers UTC athletics for Nooga.com. Follow him on Twitter @MichaelNooga.
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