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May 10, 2011

UTC led by veteran quarterback Coleman

Nebraska will open their 2011 season against FCS opponent Tennessee Chattanooga on Sept. 3. The Mocs enter the 2011 season off back-to-back 6-5 seasons, which is the first time that's happened in over 20 years.

UTC will led by former Tennessee quarterback B.J. Coleman, who is now a fifth-year senior for third-year head coach Russ Huesman.

Here's a closer look at the Mocs coming out of the spring from Chattanooga News sports editor Jay Greeson.

Where would you say Chattanooga stacks up right now in FCS football?

"They're in one of the toughest conferences at that level, which includes Appalachian State, Georgia Southern and Wofford and all those other teams. UTC has had back-to-back winning seasons at 6-5 and 6-5 the last two years, which is a market improvement from where they were.

"It's the first two years of coach Russ Huesman. He's a UTC alum and he came back here after being the defensive coordinator on a Richmond team that won a national championship a couple of years ago."


What was their biggest strength coming out of the spring?

"Quarterback play. B.J. Coleman is a local kid from here in Chattanooga who out of high school signed to play with the Tennessee Vols. After some disagreements with some coaches about playing time during the Lane Kiffin transition period there he transferred back here and he's now about to be in his third year as a starter. He's just been rock solid.

"He's a fifth-year senior that redshirted at Tennessee before coming here. They run a three wide receiver offense that's more pro based than spread with play actions and screens mixed in.

"He will throw the ball to a guy named Joe Bradford who had 80-plus catches. He was also B.J. Coleman's favorite target in high school, as they went to the same high school. After high school Bradford played safety but they moved him back to wide receiver when Coleman transferred back from Tennessee just because they have that connection and great chemistry together."


What does UTC's defense look like coming out the spring?

"They run more of a 4-3 base. The biggest difference with them and Division I defenses is the defensive line. That's the biggest difference between the FCS and FBS levels.

"They were up and down last year, but they return 10 starters. The only starter they lost was Buster Skriens, who was a fifth round draft pick of the Cleveland Browns as a cornerback that went to the combine and ran a 4.28.

"Defensively they are experienced and they should be better."


What is their biggest question or concern right now out of the spring?

"Probably the offensive line, because they lost both tackles from last year. For a team that wants to throw the ball as much as they want to throw it they have to make certain they have guys there that can keep the pressure off of B.J. (Coleman)."

What are the realistic expectations for this team in 2011 in terms of wins and losses?

"I think the expectations are higher just because this is the first real feeling of success they've had the last two years. This program went 20-plus years without having back-to-back winning seasons until the last two years.

"With that said the schedule is more difficult. Last season they had a better slate of home games and lost their season opener to Appalachian State in a heartbreaker by 1 point. They scored a touchdown with less than a minute to play and went for two to win and didn't get it and lost 42-41.

"I think this team though is certainly on the verge of contending for a playoff spot and if they're going to do this would certainly be the year with what they return. With Coleman, the receivers they have and the defense they return, expectations will be as high for this UTC team as they have been in at least a decade."


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