Thursday, August 02, 2012
- by B.B. Branton
Season Four for the Chattanooga Mocs football program under coach Russ Huesman is upon us – first practice is Friday at 3 p.m. at Scrappy Moore Field – and the former Mocs player knows at least two things are key to winning.
One, the little things add up to winning and winning big.
Two, close is not good enough.
Speaking this morning at the Downtown Chattanooga Chamber Council meeting at the Doubletree Hotel, Huesman said, “it is important to look at last season (5-6) and see what happened and fix it.
“We are close to being a real good football team (6-5, 6-5, 5-6 in his first three seasons), but close doesn’t count in football.”
The former UTC defensive back and baseball player three decades ago noted that a few plays going the Mocs way last season and they have a winning record.
“One more first down, one more defensive stop, convert a 2-point conversion play, go for a touchdown instead of a field goal and if all that works we are 9-2 instead of 5-6,” he stated.
The four close losses were Wofford (28-27 at home), Georgia Southern (28-27 on the road), The Citadel (28-27 at home) and Appalachian State (14-12 on the road).
For 2012, the Mocs are on the road for the first two games with the home opener five weeks from tonight – Glenville State, Thurs. Sept. 13.
The Mocs open the season Sat. Sept. 1 at South Florida, followed by a trip to Jacksonville State (Ala.) on Sept. 8.
An attractive Southern Conference home schedule has Appalachian State (Sept. 22) in town for Homecoming, followed by Samford (Oct. 20), Georgia Southern (Oct. 27) and Elon (Nov. 17) for Senior Day.
Huesman met with the team shortly after the 2011 season and read to the players a list of 15-20 little things that they have to do to win and win big.
“Some of these things seem trivial or unimportant, but you add all this up and it really is important,” said Huesman who was 2009 SoCon coach of the year.
“Here are three from my list - Leave your locker room clean after each practice and each game. Pick up trash off the floor and put it in a trash can … take all the trash out the team bus after returning home from away games … We have to have pride in ourselves about being orderly … go to class everyday ... can’t miss class.”
On the Winning Road: “The football program has changed in the last four years and it’s getting better,” Huesman stated.
“It hasn’t been a miraculous change, but we have won more than we have lost.”
Huesman pointed out that in first year in the fall of 2009 the Mocs were picked to finish last in the SoCon with no players on the pre-season SoCon first and second teams.
“That’s a scary thought,” Huesman said.
“This year we are picked to finish fourth (out of nine teams) and have eight players on the SoCon pre-season teams.”
“That’s a big change.”
Huesman also acknowledged that the Mocs will not win with just those eight all-stars, but it’s the 25 or 30 players in the next group who play a significant number of snaps that are key to a winning season.
“Our conference is tough, you have to come to play every week and those 25-30 Mocs have to be good for us to be successful this season.”
Huesman pointed out that there are eight returning starters on defense, the offense will be “way better than in 2011” and the kicking game is solid.
The 2012 Mocs players report to campus today, the first practice is Friday afternoon and its 31 days to the opener at South Florida.
contact B.B. Branton at email@example.com