University of Tennessee at Chattanooga football coach Russ Huesman said Tuesday evening that starting quarterback Terrell Robinson has quit the team.
Huesman said Robinson's decision to leave the team was the player's. It was not a dismissal. The coach seemed surprised that Robinson had not attended classes on Tuesday and told reporters they would have to "chase down" Robinson to get clear answers as to why he chose to leave the team.
"No disciplinary problems whatsoever," Huesman said. "No problems. He just decided this was not for him."
Robinson started last week’s season-opening loss at South Florida and shared snaps with Jacob Huesman, the coach’s son. Robinson completed 4-of-5 passes for 25 yards and had 19 yards rushing on seven carries.
Last season when starter B.J. Coleman suffered an injury, Robinson stepped in and handled the Mocs’ offense admirably, earning Southern Conference Freshman of the Year honors. In his time operating the offense, Robinson passed for 417 yards and 336 passing with 11 touchdowns.
Jacob Huesman, a redshirt freshman that prepped at Baylor, will take over the offense and the No. 2 guy becomes Graham Nichols. They are the only two quarterbacks listed on the roster.
Earlier at the weekly UTC press conference, Huesman said both quarterbacks had their moments, but both also missed some reads, pointing for “first-game jitters” for the miscues.
“We missed a lot of reads where we saw that we had some good plays developing, but the QB kept it when he shouldn’t have or let it go when he shouldn’t have,” coach Huesman said.
“But we’re going to play the best 11 players however we have to play them. The one thing we didn’t do was have Jacob and Terrell on the field at the same time, and we need to start doing that in some capacity.”
Well, that won’t happen this week and possibly never again.
When the press conference held in McKenzie Arena ended, most of the talk centered around UTC’s defensive effort against South Florida, which was the Big East bully when it came to running the football.
Well, UTC’s stout-hearted defense clearly made the Bulls’ ground game look pretty average, not as an intimidating tormentor.
“We were confident going against them,” sophomore defensive end Davis Tull said. “The thing is, their offense is similar to what we’ve been practicing against in our camp because we switched to that spread, too. We had seen a lot of it and went out and played well.”
Despite losing the season opener, 34-13, the Mocs played hard-nosed rush defense and held South Florida to 85 yards rushing on 31 carries, a paltry 2.7-yard average.
Tull, a preseason All-Conference selection after earning SoCon All-Freshman honors in 2011, was effective in the opener with a sack, five tackles and a forced fumble on the Bulls’ second possession.
“I didn’t realize it was a pass because I had the tight end on me,” said Tull, a 6-foot-3-inch, 230-pound sophomore from Knoxville. “When he went out, I just ran up field and saw the quarterback (B.J. Daniels). I just tried to grab him and knock the ball out.”
UTC’s Derrick Lott recovered the fumble and that resulted in Nick Pollard’s 39-yard field goal.
The Mocs actually knocked the Bulls around in the rush game UTC had five tackles for loss, Keith Mayes added another sack and numerous players spent a lot of time in USF’s backfield.
Demetris Murray led the Bulls with 56 yards on 16 carries and scored USF’s first touchdown on a 2-yard run.
South Florida led the Big East in 2011 with 185 rushing yards per game, with Cincinnati at 178.5 in a close second. The Bulls had three players – Darrell Scott, Daniels and Demetric Murray – among the top 10 rushers in the conference a year ago.
The Bulls trailed only high-octane West Virginia in total offense – 346.8 to 249.6.
Tull was asked if the Mocs’ defensive effort may have surprised the Bulls.
“They might not have anticipated us playing like we did,” he said. “We weren’t great and we didn’t win the game, but I think we felt good about what we did.
“I don’t think they took us lightly. They were ready for us. We just played well and I think we got a little respect.”
The problem for UTC was Daniels, who ignited the Bulls’ offense with his over-the-top passing assault against one of the toughest defenses in the Southern Conference in 2011.
Daniels completed 16-of-26 passes for 225 yards and had touchdown throws of 19, 28 and 39 yards. He also ran 20 yards for a score.
“The defense showed a lot of good signs,” Huesman said. “We held them to 85 yards rushing, but I was a little disappointed that we gave up some throws over the top. Other than those three throws we played pretty good defense.”
That damage came from one quarterback.
On Saturday at Jacksonville State University, the Mocs are going against a two-quarterback offensive attack that has the potential to give them fits. Game time is 7 p.m. EDT and both teams go into the 37th meeting in the series having lost their season openers.
The Gamecocks will start Maruqes Ivory, a 6-1, 235-pound senior who played in only one game last season due to an injury. Coty Blanchard, a 6-0, 185-pound junior, will play a lot.
Ivory passed for 2,248 yards in 2010 with 18 touchdowns and nine interceptions. He has 2,906 career passing yards, tying him for eighth in JSU history.
Blanchard assumed the offensive reins last season and threw for 1,703 yards and 12 touchdowns with five interceptions. He’s got 2,066 career passing yards, including a career-high 300 against Eastern Kentucky last November. He also rushed for 427 yards in 2011.
Blanchard threw for 164 yards in a 38-17 loss to UTC last year.
“I think we’ll prepare more for the plays and go off formations as opposed to personnel,” Tull said. “We’re definitely going to be aware of who’s in the game. If you see the bigger guy (Ivory) in the game, he’s less of a running threat than the other kid. We’ll know who’s in there.”
Huesman assessed the two Gamecocks quarterbacks.
“They both can run the offense,” he said. “They can do everything whether in the I (formation) on a one-back set. They do certain things with certain guys.
“Coty will do more run plays, dart plays, some of that stuff where they’ll run the zone and read. They don’t go completely from what they do in a general offense with the other guy. They’ll run play-action passes and take their shots. Coty will just run the ball more, obviously.”
In JSU’s 49-24 loss to 10th-ranked Arkansas, Ivory completed 14 of 28 passes for 160 yards and two touchdowns. He added 13 yards rushing.
Blanchard was 4-for-9 and 67 yards and ran once for 37 yards.
The Gamecocks, who trail in the UTC series, 26-10, but have won the last two games at Burgess-Snow Field, put up 322 yards of offense against the powerhouse Razorbacks. Arkansas countered with 564 yards, including 400 through the air, and a 28-point second quarter that produced a 35-21 halftime lead.
“We’ve got a tough one this week versus Jacksonville State,” Huesman said. “They’ve got a good ballclub and they looked good against Arkansas. We have to play well to win because it’s going to be a battle.”
If the Mocs have defensive success against JSU, Huesman said it will start up front.
The front four of left end Josh Williams (6-2, 235), nose Lott (6-4, 303), tackle Toyvian Brand (6-2, 260) and right end Tull was a collective key factor in South Florida’s inability to run the football last weekend.
Throw linebackers Shane Heatherly (6-4, 220), Wes Dothard (6-1, 235) and Gunner Miller (6-1, 225) and the Mocs basically frustrated the USF braintrust.
“And Zack Rayl (Tull’s backup) played well, too, but never gets talked about,” Huesman said. “Inside I thought we were pretty good. Lott, (Chris) Mayes (nose, 6-3, 295) all three did fine.”
Huesman said the front play allowed the three linebackers to turn in a strong effort, combining for 15 tackles.
“If the other team runs for 85 yards, you’re doing something good,” Huesman said. “And they’ll only get better.”
(E-mail Larry Fleming at firstname.lastname@example.org)