Not much went right for the Mocs in last Thursday's 31-21 loss to UT Martin. Sure, there were some bright spots, but not nearly enough.
Here are some position-by-position grades
Jacob Huesman’s final stat line didn’t necessarily show it, but the sophomore signal caller will admit he didn’t have one of his better games. Huesman completed 17-of-30 pass attempts for 228 yards and three touchdowns, while also racking up a team-high 90 yards rushing on 22 carries. The 6-foot-1, 210-pounder was picked off deep inside UTC territory, setting up the Skyhawks’ first score in the final minutes of the first half. He wasn’t consistently accurate, and, on several occasions, held onto the ball too long. Sure, he delivered some big plays with both his arm and his legs, but there were plenty of opportunities missed as well.
Running backs: C
Similar to last season’s almost non-existent backfield, Chattanooga’s trio of backs, Keon Williams, Marquis Green and Taharin Tyson, finished with just 52 yards on 15 carries. Williams, a junior, led the group with 40 yards on eight attempts, but far too often, the 6-foot, 215-pound power back was brought down by arm tackles. Green, who carried five times for just seven yards, couldn’t find any running room up the middle, and also had a tough time getting to the edge. The 5-foot-7, 175-pound speedster made a big impact in the passing game, though, finishing with five receptions for a team-leading 75 yards, including a fourth-quarter touchdown from 29 yards out.
Wide receivers/tight ends: B
It’s no secret that missing the team’s most dangerous deep threat, junior Terrell Robinson, hurt. Others seemed to pick up the slack, though. Junior Tommy Hudson hauled in four catches for 68 yards, including a 41-yard, third-quarter reception to set up UTC’s first score of the game. Tight end Faysal Shafaat was probably the most impressive Moc on the field Thursday, hauling in touchdown receptions of 18 and 13 yards, and redshirt freshman C.J. Board had a solid debut for Chattanooga, catching three balls for 38 yards.
Offensive line: D
The Mocs’ performance on the offensive front might have been one of the most disappointing aspects in Thursday’s loss. The unit was pushed around throughout the contest, failing to provide much running room while allowing three sacks. That number would have been higher, too, if not for the escapability of Huesman.
Defensive line: D-
Chattanooga’s most talked-about unit, fell flat on Thursday. The absence of defensive ends Zack Rayl (out for the season) and Toyvian Brand probably played a role in that, but that didn’t justify the defensive front’s underwhelming performance. The Mocs’ interior was absolutely manhandled, allowing two UT Martin backs to eclipse the 100-yard mark, while the pass rush was virtually non-existent. The team’s supposed strength turned out to be anything but that in the 31-21 setback.
Tackling was a huge problem for the Mocs on Thursday, and no unit struggled with it more than the team’s linebacking corps. Seniors Wes Dothard and Gunner Miller finished with nine stops each, but all too often they allowed UT Martin’s backs, especially walk-on Trent Garland, to power their way past the would-be tacklers.
No unit on the roster has been more affected by injuries than the Mocs’ defensive backfield. Considering the absence of safeties D.J. Key, Zach McCarter and Dean Haynes, the secondary performed about as well as could be expected in the pass game, but the unit, along with the linebackers, definitely needs to improve in the tackling department.
Special Teams: B+
Other than the one breakdown on kickoff coverage, the Mocs performed pretty well on special teams. Nick Pollard averaged 40 yards per punt on seven attempts, landing two inside the 20-yard line while preventing a single return, and the junior was perfect on his three extra-point attempts. Senior Chaz Moore returned the game’s opening kickoff 61 yards, but had to feel like he missed an opportunity by not finding the end zone, especially after the offense went three-and-out on the ensuing possession.
The debuts of offensive coordinator Jeff Durden and defensive coordinator Adam Braithwaite didn’t go as smoothly as planned. Russ Huesman admitted the Mocs were out-coached in nearly every aspect of the game, and he was not at all pleased with the team’s halftime adjustments — or lack of. The offense seemed to turn a corner at the break, putting 21 points on the board in the final 30 minutes, but the defense never quite found an answer for slowing UT Martin’s offense, which finished with 451 yards of total offense.
Michael Murphy covers UTC athletics for Nooga.com. Follow him on Twitter @MichaelNooga.
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