Looking Ahead: Chattanooga Mocs 2008 Recap

Brock SexingtonContributor IApril 8, 2009

It has been a tough run for Chattanooga Mocs fans. Former Head Coach Rodney Allison gave them little to cheer about during his six-year run at the helm of the UT-Chattanooga Mocs football program.

Allison’s contract expired and he was let go following the 2008 season after posting his worst season yet, a dismal 1-11 finish, with the only win of the season a 47-6 blowout of undersized NAIA opponent Cumberland University.

Allison wrapped up his tenure at UTC with a 17-51 cumulative record, and his best finish was in 2005, his only winning season, when the Mocs finished 6-5, albeit only going 3-4 in Southern Conference play.

Allison should be given some credit though, considering that the Mocs last winning season before him was in 1997 when they finished 7-4, and went .500 in conference action.

The Mocs last conference title was in 1984, with a 6-5 finish and a 5-1 record against conference foes. Other than a run atop the conference in the late 1970s, the Mocs have struggled to stay out of the Southern Conference basement.

These numbers show how tough climbing the rankings can be in college football, especially in arguably the most competitive conference in the FCS.

Georgia Southern and Appalachian State annually field some of the best programs in FCS football. Combined, these two teams have taken home the I-AA/FCS national title in five of the last 10 years! (The conference boasts another three national titles in the 11 years before that.)

Aside from these two teams being a lock for postseason play, the Mocs have had to contend with annual matchups against very solid Wofford and Furman teams as well.

This leaves the Mocs in the middle of the pack at best, and scrapping with the Citadel and Elon to not end up with Western Carolina in the bottom of the standings. Southern Conference newcomer Samford bested Chattanooga in 2008 by a score of 30-7 and looks to improve on their 6-5 finish and four conference wins next season.

On Dec. 22, 2008, just days after the Richmond Spiders defeated the Montana Grizzlies for the FCS national championship in Chattanooga’s very own Finley Stadium, the Mocs lured away Richmond defensive coordinator Russ Huesman to become their next head coach.

Things had come full-circle for Huesman, who had spent the last four seasons on the Spiders staff. He was a four-year starter at defensive back for the Mocs in the late 1970s during their above-mentioned brief dominance of the Southern Conference.

This could only be good news for a defense that gave up a whopping 455 points in 12 contests last year.

While Huesman’s defensive expertise can be expected to make an immediate impact on the team, it wouldn’t hurt if the offense improves to help the effort. The Mocs only put up a total of 153 points all season, via 20 touchdowns (two were defensive) and four field goals.

Other offensive stats the Mocs can look to improve upon are their third-down conversion percentage (just 27 percent to opponents 45 percent), their 11-19 TD-INT ratio at quarterback, and their average yards per rush (2.3).

One other stat the Mocs and Huesman hope to increase next year is home attendance, which dwindled below 6000 per home game.  This is really a shame considering the Mocs’ Finley Stadium can accommodate 20,000 fans and is among the nicest and newest facilities in the entirety of FCS.

Coming up in a few weeks; a complete position-by-position breakdown of the Mocs and their personnel coming out of spring training and what the depth and strategy looks like heading into the 2009 season.