Chattanooga head football coach Russ Huesman isn’t a huge numbers guy.
Sure, he’ll casually mention some of the team’s statistics, like the Mocs ranking fourth in the nation in third-down-conversion percentage (26/68 - 53%), or the fact that they’re 10th in the country in rushing offense (252.0 ypg).
Generally speaking, though, Huesman doesn’t put a whole lot of stock in stats.
Gone are the Friday nights when he’d search for figures to inspire his teams — due largely to the fact the Mocs have risen from Southern Conference bottom feeders to championship contenders, making it increasingly more difficult to dig up the kind of numbers he’s looking for.
“Every Friday night I’d give them a stat, but a couple years ago it was easy to come up with stats,” Huesman said at Tuesday’s media luncheon. “We hadn’t had back-to-back this, we hadn’t done that or we hadn’t done this.
“I’m glad I’m done with all that stuff.”
He just might dust off that old motivational technique this Friday, though — the night before Chattanooga takes the field against visiting Furman. There’s a stat surrounding the two teams’ upcoming matchup that Huesman just couldn’t get over.
UTC hasn’t defeated the Paladins at home in its last nine tries, which includes an 0-8 mark at Finley Stadium.
“I read that the other day,” Huesman said. “I actually looked it up. I thought about the last four years and thought man, we’ve lost to Furman here twice and we’ve beaten them down there twice. I thought I’m going to look back in the press guide and see when was the last time we beat them [at home].”
He had to go back a ways to find it, too. All the way back to the final game of the 1993 season — former head coach Tommy West’s last game at Chattanooga — when the Mocs knocked off the Paladins 45-42 at Chamberlain Field.
“In ’93, I was probably somewhere with a bottle in my mouth,” junior running back Marquis Green said.
“I don’t know what it is,” senior offensive lineman Pat Sutton said. “I guess we’re just not playing good in those games. Hopefully we can get that turned around this time.”
It’s not the first time in recent years that Chattanooga has entered the Furman game with hopes of ending a drought. Prior to 2010, the Paladins had won 15 straight over the Mocs — a streak that was snapped with UTC’s 36-28 win in Greenville, S.C.
“I think it’s probably just the way it has worked out,” senior linebacker Gunner Miller said. “I remember my redshirt freshman year we hadn’t beaten them in like 14 years or something like that. We ended that streak, now hopefully we can end this streak.”
One-sided rivalry: While the Paladins hold a decent-sized advantage in the all-time series between the two schools — Furman holds a 27-15 series edge — Chattanooga has enjoyed its share of wins.
The Paladins have dominated it for nearly three decades, though.
UTC has lost 21 of its last 25 games against the Paladins, and the Mocs, who cruised to a 31-10 road win a season ago, have never posted back-to-back wins in the series — another milestone that’ll be up for grabs Saturday.
Michael Murphy covers UTC athletics for Nooga.com. Follow him on Twitter @MichaelNooga.
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