Thursday, August 29, 2013
- by B.B. Branton
"We need everyone on our offensive line to be "Dancing Bears". Ones who are light on their feet, yet can dominate and control their opponent."
-- Alex Atkins, UTC offensive line coach
Running the football with more consistency this season is a must for the No24 UTC Mocs and a big test comes tonight as the Blue and Gold host UT-Martin at Finley Stadium in a regionally televised game with a 7:37 p.m. kickoff.
Offensive line coach Alex Atkins sees his "Dancing Bears" as a vital part of that running game equation.
"To be a "Dancing Bear" you must be light on your feet and able to dominate and control your opponent," said coach Atkins, who knows something about being a Dancing Bear as he was an All-American offensive lineman at UT-Martin, graduating in 2007.
"Imagine being chased and then caught by a large brown bear weighing a few hundred pounds; one who can outrun you. That's a scary thought and it's what I want from our guys on the offensive line."
According to Atkins, the O-Line has made very good improvement since last season.
Mocs O-Line: The UTC line has starters in tackles Hunter Dockery (Sr.) and Corey Levin (R Fr.), center Patrick Sutton (Jr.), guards Kevin Revis (Sr.) and Synjen Herren (So) along with All-American tight end Faysal Shafaat.(Jr.)
"We have passed the quizzes in the spring and this summer, but the test comes tonight."
And for the Mocs to run the ball consistently tonight, the Blue and Gold O-Line must control an experienced, talented Skyhawk defense which features four All-Americans.
"To be a dominant lineman you must control your blocks for at least four seconds and that's just the bare minimum," Atkins said emphatically.
UT-Martin has a pair of athletic defensive ends in D.J. Roberts (All-Ameican) and Ryan isom, plus All-American linebacker Ben Johnson and All-American free safety Thad Williams.
"Those guys are very athletic and will come at you from several different formations," Atkins stated
Deal Maker/Deal Breaker: Even though this is a non-conference game, a win or a loss could set the tone for the entire season for one or both teams.
UT-Martin was 8-3 a year ago, finished second in the Ohio Valley Conference with an non-conference road win against Memphis, 29-17, with the winning field goal coming with 13 seconds remaining in the game.
The No.24 Mocs return 21 starters from a 6-5 season.
A Key to Victory: The Mocs must control the line of scrimmage in tonight's game to help establish the running game.
And if the "Dancing Bears" can win the battle in the trenches to allow Marquis Green, Keon Williams and others to gain significant yardage then Moc fans could be dancing down Broad Street to 1960s hit "Dancing in the Street" by Martha Reeves and the Vandellas by late evening.
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