University of Tennessee at Chattanooga football coach Russ Huesman said the Mocs still have motivating factors heading into Saturday’s regular-season finale during his final weekly press luncheon Tuesday at McKenzie.
UTC takes on the Elon Phoenix at Finley Stadium at 2 p.m.
Here is Huesman’s remarks to local media and also those from player s defensive back Dean Haynes and quarterback Jacob Huesman
Thoughts on the loss to Wofford
"We lost a tough one last Saturday. I thought our kids played really hard all the way across the board, especially defensively. I thought we played excellent defense. It was probably as good as we've played since I have been here. I am proud of our guys. We didn't get it done but we have to find ways to get that part done. I think the only thing we have to focus on right now is to win the game on Saturday and then move on from there."
On what it takes to win the close games
"Last year the big thing was our second half play. If you look at it, we have played really well in the second half this year. We have won games in the second half. We're 1-7 in games decided by three or less. Whether it's three points or one possession games, it's the same. We've won one-possession games. We have won games and gotten better in the second half during the year, and we can take that and move forward. We have to play well this week. We have to play good enough to beat Elon, and we'll figure all the other things later on down the road."
On his team's play against Wofford's Eric Breitenstein
"We probably defended better than anybody has in the last couple of years. He hit the 41-yarder on us but other than that we kept him his average. He's tough. They gave it to him four straight times in overtime and the fifth time for a touchdown. It wasn't like we didn't know it was coming. He's just tough. He's a great player. Give our guys credit. I'll take 224 yards against Wofford in regulation all day, every day."
On if it will be difficult to motivate the team after the Wofford loss
"I think we have a lot of things to motivate us. We have a chance for a winning season. We have some seniors who are fantastic individuals and are going to play as hard as they can. Our players have enough respect for them that they are going to play hard for them. The bottom line is, when you put the ball down, I don't care if you're 1-9, 2-8, 3-7 or whatever, if you have a competitive bone in your body and an ounce of pride about yourself, you will prepare, practice and play hard. That's what I told our team. We can have a winning season and we can play for some great kids. But to me, if you're a competitor, when the ball comes down, you play. Great players do that. I think we have really good players and I think they will practice and play hard."
Dean Haynes, Junior, Defensive back
On the loss to Wofford
"It was a tough loss. We were gunning for that championship and trying to get those championship rings. To fall short in overtime was tough. My teammates fought hard and we fought together. It was a tough one to swallow."
On bouncing back this week
"If anything, that loss is motivation to finish strong and finish with a winning season. There is a big difference between 6-5 and 5-6 and we definitely want to finish 6-5. We are going to use that loss as motivation to go into this week hungry and prepare to win a game."
On facing the Elon offense
"We've got a great chance to cover some great receivers, like Aaron Mallette, and showcase what our defensive backs can do. Hopefully we can get some picks and some pass break ups and ball out together."
Jacob Huesman, Freshman, Quarterback
On what the difference is in his play now compared to early in the season
"I'd say just being able to experience all the different scenarios that happen over the course of the game. After the first couple of weeks, we had seen most of the scenarios that take place. When it happened later on in the season, I was a bit more ready. It was just getting the feel for the game I guess."
On what it takes to win the close games
"You can look at it as a positive that we are even in these big games, playing Wofford and Georgia Southern and going to overtime against both of them. We haven't really put together a complete game. There are always a few things we could do better or differently playing or coaching. When we put those things together, that's when the Mocs will be on top in those types of games."
On how the team regroups for the final regular season game
"Right now it's a pride thing. From an outsider's perspective, we probably don't have much to play for. As far as we are concerned, we are playing to go into the offseason with a positive. We are playing to send the seniors out the right way at home with a win. We're playing for a winning record and 6-5 is a little underachieving we feel, but from where the program came from, three out of the last four years have been winning seasons. I think sometimes that gets overlooked."
(E-mail Larry Fleming at firstname.lastname@example.org)