I've attended ALL 10 Chattanooga Mocs games this season (home & away); I'm a 2013 Business Administration: Entrepreneurship graduate of UT-Chattanooga; I speak on behalf of myself as a FAN i.e. I don't represent UTC: not on paid staff, no media credentials/approval, etc.; I have no experience in journalism or sports media so I hope my below analysis suffices for your needs.
Chattanooga Mocs (A 'Moc' is short for 'Mockingbird' )
Head Coach is Russ Huesman. Russ is a '83 Chattanooga Alumni and a former DB for Chattanooga. Coach Huesman was hired as Head Coach at his Alma Mater prior to 2009 season. Chattanooga finished (3-8) in 2007 & (1-11) in 2008. Talks of cancelling/ending the football program circa 2004-2007 seasons were prevalent due to continual losing records and < 5,000 home average attendance.
Fast forward to 2015, and Coach Huesman have led the Mocs' to its THIRD STRAIGHT SOUTHERN CONFERENCE CHAMPIONSHIP! We've had 2 consecutive years of achieving the #1 FCS recruiting class. This year vs now #1 Jacksonville State, Mocs achieved over 15,000 in home attendance. Chattanooga Mocs haven't made the FCS Playoffs since 1984, and in 2014 Mocs returned to Playoffs and lost in the Quarterfinals. Mocs received a Playoff auto-bid in 2015 season. Mocs also achieved a national FCS ranking of #3 after week 9, with the lone loss coming to #1 Jacksonville State 20-23. Coach Huesman has created a culture of winning and success, and he does it by player development. The term 'players coach' is synonymous with Russ Huesman. The Mocs did not win 41 games in the 12 seasons combined prior to his arrival. Now in his 7th season, Russ has eclipsed 49 wins and created a Top-10 program.
Chattanooga Mocs football team shares weight room with golf, volleyball, basketball, tennis & wrestling teams. Our facilities are sparse and inept; several local high-school football teams have far superior facilities. The Defensive Backs, as an example, have to wait their turn until a room is available to break down film/coach can teach to players. The rooms are so small that players have to sit in the hallway to listen/watch during positional meetings. Coordinators share rooms, desks, and computers with each other. Mocs are using these 'money-games' in hopes to build new athletic facilities and football-exclusive offices.
MOCS IN THE NFL
CB, Buster Skrine, the Jets signed Buster to a four-year $25 million deal prior to 2015 season. Drafted in '10 by the Cleveland Browns
DE Davis Tull, a three-time SoCon defensive player of the year, was a fifth-round draft choice of the New Orleans Saints in 2014
DT Derrick Lott, Undrafted Free Agent, currently on Practice Squad at Tampa Bay
DB Chris Lewis Harris, U.F.A. currently on active 53 man roster with Cincinnatti Bengals (been with Bengals for 4 seasons on active roster)
Terrell Owens, 153 career NFL touchdowns, six-time Pro Bowl selection and five-time All-Pro pick, future HOF
Dennis Haskins, Mr. Belding from 'Saved by the Bell' (view this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mn6qva6ZS2s)
(8-2) record. Two losses come by a combined 6 points, 20-23 to #1 Jacksonville State, and outlier-loss at Mercer 14-17. To elaborate, Mocs were just announced as #3 in FCS prior to Mercer game. Mercer was (0-4) in conference with The Citadel game the following week to decide the Conference Champion, plus which team would receive FCS Playoff auto-bid. Mocs had 4 turnovers against Mercer, missed FG, and were stuffed at the 1 on 4th & 1. We beat Mercer 9 out of 10 times. Mercer would be synonymous with an ACC equivalent of Wake Forest or Virginia. Mocs awoke the following week to beat a much more talented Citadel team 31-23, after going up 21-0 in 1st half.
To compare opponents, Jacksonville State lead the entire game against Auburn until Auburn tied it up late in 4th, as Jacksonville State lost in OT at Auburn. Mocs crushed Furman 31-3, a Furman team who beat University of Central Florida in 2015 16-15. Mocs dismantled Western Carolina 41-13 who was able to score 17 against Texas A&M last Saturday.
Led by senior QB Jacob Huesman (coaches son). Jacob was recruited by the likes of Georgia Tech and Vanderbilt, but stayed local to play for FCS Chattanooga (and play for his Dad). Entering Florida State game, dual-threat QB Jacob has accounted for 99 career touchdowns and 11,535 yards (pass & rush). Jacob is picked to win his third Southern Conference Offensive Player of the Year Award following this season and is on the STATS FCS Offensive Player of the Year Watch List for 2015. Jacob is a bruiser, almost fullback or linebacker-esque, as the antithesis of a Deshaun Watson. Jacob is listed at 6'2 but he's 6'1 ~230 pounds that embraces running between the tackles and initiating contact. He'd rather run over a MLB than beat you in space. He has a 68% completion percentage passing on the year, and led the FCS in completion percentage (68.5%) in 2014. A Jacob Huesman stat-line: vs Western Carolina in 2015 (14-of-15 passing for 191 yards and rushed for 168 yards on 20 carries).
Mocs run a shotgun-spread attack that is heavily reliant on the run game. We use tons of misdirection as well. So many moving peices before the ball is snapped and that's credit to QB for seeing coverage's/blitzes and can audible at will. Our run sets up the pass. When the opposition crowds the line of scrimmage after we've ran it 8 consecutive times, QB Jacob Huesman then throws, as our WR corps are talented enough at FCS level to win one-on-one battles to make the catch. We are dynamite in between the 20's, but struggle inside the Red Zone as the field shortens. This is because we have ZERO Tight End production in the passing game (1 catch all season for TE). Mocs have 21 rushing touchdowns this season in the Red Zone, 4 passing TD. A catching tight end who could pull a LB into coverage is what I'm asking Santa for Christmas. Currently, that LB is staying in the box to make the tackle against the run. In conference play, Mocs are ranked 6th of 8th in Red Zone Offense. Luckily we have a great FG kicker and stingy defense to mask our inept Red Zone woes. Inside the Red Zone, simply, we can't attack the middle of the field with the passing game, thus making us one dimensional.
Our running game works because we have lots of Ermon Lane's on the outside along with, arguably, the best offensive line in FCS. We've got several big body WR's that can run all the routes in the route-tree along the aforementioned blocking in the run game. The heart and soul of our WR corps is #12 Xavier Borishade (Jr.) listed at 5-10 175 pounds. Xavier is the Mocs #1 WR/ATH as his play mimics Noles' Travis Rudolph. He has the tenacity of Jalen Ramsey and the leadership of a Jameis Winston. Against FCS competion, he's the better player, but realistically, he may look rather pedestrian against FBS competition. Xavier would get playing time at a Syracuse or Louisville, as examples. After Xavier, #2 - #7 at the WR position share similar stats. They're all 6-3 220 pounds who get great body-position on defenders to block in run game, and can out-athlete FCS opposition to make the catch. Other notable WR's include #11 Wil Young (Fr.) (George Campbell esque), #85 James Stovall (Fr.) & #9 Alphonso Stewart (So.) (mini Kelvin Benjamin). To give you ratio, Mocs offense is 70% run, 30% pass
Running Back is #34 Derrick Craine. We call him 'Polar Express'. He's a white James Wilder Jr. listed at 5-10 200 lbs. who plays with lots of ferocity. Like Jacob, he embraces and initiates contact so you'll see him between the tackles bullying his way through. In 2015, he's a 1,000 yard rusher and 12 TD Running Back. He wouldn't get playing time at an FBS school, but he has the biggest warrior-like mentality on team, and coaches love how he plays with such passion. Backup Running Back is #23 Richardre Bagley listed at 5-9 180 lbs. He's used sparingly as he's more Darren Sproles-esque a la used in the screen and jet-sweep game. Both backs complement each other. Bagley has the much better hands and is much better in space, while Polar Express is the 'every down' back. Bagley has been the primary kickoff returner. Nickname for Richardre Bagley is 'Flash Bagley'. Flash Bagley just wants to run in space; Polar Express says "screw space, let me find a way to bounce off a Nose tackle real quick"
The offensive line is anchored by 4 first-team all Southern Conference players, and 2 (will be) 2015 FCS All-Americans. Our tight ends are our offensive kryptonite: suspect in blocking, out of position continually, and hands of butter. It's baffling to think Chattanooga has the best aggregate offensive line in FCS, but is so suspect with its Tight Ends. If the Chattanooga Mocs were playing an FCS foe I'd go more in depth, but Florida State will bully them off the line of scrimmage so it's futile to discuss it.
Mocs Defense is a formidable bunch who plays with speed, albeit undersized and lack of physicality. Guys swarm to the ball, as that's how we were able to hang with #1 Jacksonville State 20-23 (a physically dominant big-bodied team who takes in all the SEC rejects from Alabama and Auburn who fail drug tests, crimes, etc. get suspended from SEC school, and come enroll at FCS school to play the very next year a la Jacksonville State). Our speed was too much for spread teams Western Carolina (beat 41-13) and Furman (beat 31-3). In FCS, Chattanooga ranks #18 in Total Defense. Chattanooga leads the conference in basically all defensive categories. Mocs have held all Southern Conference opponents below their rushing and pass averages. Mocs pass defense surrenders just 153 yards per game. From strongest to weakest: Safeties, DB, D-Line, Linebackers. Led by 2015 Watch List FCS Defensive Player of the Year Defensive End #93 Keionta Davis at 35 tackles, 13.5 TFL, 10.5 sacks and 2015 Preseason All-American Safety #29 Lucas Webb. Safety #2 Cedric Nettles, DB #3 Dee Virgin, and DB #1 Trevor Wright will all finish with first-team SoCon honors at end of season as well. Our Mike LB is worthy of discussion as #5 Nakevion Leslie leads the team in tackles with 72. He's 5-11 but is a ball-hawk and tackling machine with 12.5 TFL. The Sam and Dime are very pedestrian (and awful in coverage) as All-American Safety #29 typically cleans up their mess. Mocs defense plays lots of Nickle and I mean lots of Nickle coverage. We are built to defend the pass as our defensive speed allows us to swarm the RB to stop the run. Mocs use #29 Lucas Webb as a rover/'play center field' position. As I referenced earlier, the safeties and DB's are our best defensive assets, so expect to see three down lineman, #5 Nakevion Leslie at the Mike, and 7 DB's playing a variety of coverage's. To term it, it's a highly aggressive prevent defense lol. Mocs defense: speed & scheme over brute.
Kicker and Punter is Henrique Ribeiro (Rib-arrow). Henrique is 6'0 ~ 230 pounds. We call him 'Rib' because he looks like he has eaten too many ribs lol. He is a hefty fellow; Bud, don't expect him to make a tackle on kickoffs or punt returns as Henrique has zero lateral agility and probably runs an 8-second 40 yard dash. On kickoffs, Henrique can rarely get the ball into the endzone, much less the 5 yard line. I'd guess that 99% of kickoffs are returned, with the returner catching the ball -- on average -- from the 7-yard line. Ribeiro can't generate the leg-torque on kickoffs. Such is life for an FCS kicker lol. Ribeiro, however, is a much more proficient Field Goal kicker. Ribeiro is a 5-time SoCon Special Teams Player of the Week in 2015 season, having made all 35 PATs. Ribeiro has made 13-17 FG this season as he's 9 of 11 from 30-39 yards, unfortunately 1 of 3 from 40-49 yards. Ribeiro kicks rugby-style punts as he's better at kicking away from punter and keeping ball in-bounds than amassing sufficient punt-distance. Ribeiro averages 43 yards per punt (ball typically goes 70% yards in air, then bounces the remaining 30%). I expect Florida State to block a punt against UTC as Rib' has the slowest windup given his hefty physique, and the fact that he has to run to his right to kick the rugby style punt. FCS talent gets close to blocking, Florida State talent should block 1 of his punts on Saturday, no question. As I'm typing this my Dad yells "Tell Bud that Henrique needs to quit eating damn ribs and learn how to kick."
1) Feed Ryan Izzo the ball. Chattanooga havn't faced a big-body or tall tight end all season. If Mocs bring in the Sam or Dime LB, Jimbo should go right at them and force Chattanooga LBs to play pass coverage. It will be a learning moment for both sides. I expect Izzo to have a 6 catches, 45 yards, 1 TD performance
2) Test the speed and tackling ability of Mocs' secondary with Jaques Patrick. I'd assume Dalvin gets limited reps with Florida the following week, but holes and running lanes will be there for Patrick at line of scrimmage. Test Patrick's vision, patience, and lateral ability against a swarming Mocs' secondary
3) Get Auden Tate, Ermon Lane, and George Campbell some balls deep. As I mentioned, Mocs' secondary is undersized with average height at 5'11. Get the ball to some tall young receivers. Ample opportunity
4) Keep Jacob Huesman in the pocket. Force him to throw against FSU speed and not bully his way for a 5-yard rush off the Right Tackle. Mocs are meant to be 2nd and 5, not 2nd and 9. Make Jacob throw from 2nd and 9 or 3rd and 13
1) stay injury free
2) stay injury free
3) play opportunistic on defense. Nothing to lose, so have #29 Lucas Webb and #2 Cedric Nettles jump routes. An INT at Doak will be something a Mocs player would always remember.
4) Blitz the hell out of Sean Maquire. Mocs have the speed to rattle him. Test his mobility. Test to see if he's already focused on Florida instead of playing Chattanooga. Back to playing opportunistic, might get QB fumble or INT.
5) Stay away from Derwin James
6) focus on getting into field goal range for Henrque Ribeiro to attempt some field goals. Mocs will need his accuracy and confidence in FCS Playoffs as kicking in Doak will be a learning moment, make or miss
After watching both teams all season, can't predict the Mocs scoring more than 12 points against Florida State Defense. I expect 'Noles to be rather vanilla offensively with Florida game looming, and Mocs attempting to escape injury-less with FCS Playoffs the following week
In 2 weeks (Dec. 5th) is the first round of FCS Playoffs. Chattanooga may or may not get 1st-round Bye as Top 8 seeds get 1st-round Bye. Chattanooga is ranked #8 in STATS FCS Media Poll. The FCS Polls and Playoff seeding aren't mutually exclusive as Chattanooga could be ranked #8 but seeded #10th (due to Playoff formatting), as example. I expect -- and predict -- that several starters on offense and defense won't even play vs Florida State. Remaining healthy entering FCS Playoffs is paramount, not beating FBS Florida State. The sole purpose of playing Florida State is to fund the new athletic offices. Furman, Mercer, Wofford -- our rivals -- all have new multi-million dollar football athletic facilities. Virginia Military Institute, for example, a cellar-dweller in SoCon football, is building new indoor practice facility. Russ Huesman is selling players on chance to play for National Championship, win Southern Conference titles, and be a nationally FCS formidable program (again, this was a far cry from the 2008 (1-11) Huesman-less team). Our foes are using our lack-of-facilties against us in recruiting, albeit our recent resume has attributed to our #1 FCS recruiting class in two consecutive years (several three-star and two-star recruits). When we have the facilities AND the rings, then we'll be special :)