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UTC coaches like offensive progress in spring work
The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga offense got better as spring football practice progressed, the defense started better than it finished and there’s still a lot of work to be done.
That was coach Russ Huesman’s assessment after the Mocs completed their 15 spring practices last week. However, it’s what the players do between now and when they report in early August that really counts, he said.
“A lot of people come out of spring and they want to get a depth chart,” he said. “I don’t think we’re in a position right now to make those decisions. We had too many people in and out, missing practice [because of class] and injuries.
“I judge it and gauge it by how things happen from this point on – what kind of shape they come back in and those types of things.
“We’ll make decisions when we get ready to play a football game.”
For the offense, spring practice was a chance to further implement the Mocs’ new “pro-spread” system that takes advantage of the running and athletic ability of quarterbacks Terrell Robinson and Jacob Huesman.
Robinson, who shared Southern Conference freshman of the year honors last season, entered the spring as the No. 1 quarterback. Jacob Huesman was the No. 2 after redshirting in 2011. Both players had productive springs and will play this coming season, offensive coordinator Marcus Satterfield said.
There were times when the quarterbacks would be in for one or two plays at a time before giving way to the other, and that could continue in the fall, Satterfield said.
“I think they both played well, and I think we can win games with both of them,” he said.
For Robinson, who rushed for 417 yards and threw for 336 and six touchdowns while filling in for B.J. Coleman last season, spring practice had some ups and downs. His right (throwing) wrist bothered him at times, which led to some inconsistent passing.
“It’s a little weak and I’ve really got to rehab it and work on my grip again,” he said.
Having served as the scout team quarterback this past fall, Jacob Huesman came into the spring wanting to prove that he could run the offense and run the ball effectively.
“Most of the time when you talk to college football players, the big difference is the speed,” he said. “That was kind of a concern for me because I was pretty fast in high school, but I didn’t know if I was going to be able to come in here and run with the college guys.
“The spring, I feel like, was kind of a confirmation that I can.”
Elsewhere on the offense, wide receivers Tommy Hudson and Ron Moore were productive and could emerge as complements to UTC’s big threat, Marlon Anthony. However, UTC has little depth at the position and likely will need for some of its incoming freshmen next season.
In the crowded backfield, J.J. Jackson was the consistent inside rusher, while Marquis Green was the big-play threat to whom Satterfield wants to get the ball in a variety of ways.
The Mocs also showed flashes of the squad that led the SoCon in total defense and scoring defense in 2011. But overall the defenders didn’t play up to Coach Huesman’s standards.
“I don’t think we were great,” he said. “We’ve got to keep getting better. We’ve got some good players, obviously, but I would have liked to have had a little bit better defensive effort this spring.”
By John Frierson, Chattanooga Times Free Press