HERO Sports welcomes you to "Two-a-Days", where we will preview every single one of the 125 FCS programs, with two being released each day from June 18 to August 18 (with the final day having three in one day). Today we give you … Chattanooga.
CHATTANOOGA (3-8 IN 2017)
Southern Conference (UTC was 6th in the SoCon in 2017)
COACH: Tom Arth – 2nd year (3-8 record)
2017 OFFENSE: 17.7 ppg. (100th in FCS)
2017 DEFENSE: 25.8 ppg. (60th in FCS)
SUM IT UP: In the last month of the 2017 season, this program began to show some serious spunk — beating playoff-bound Samford, going to overtime with SoCon champion Wofford and then finishing on a high note with a 10-3 win over East Tennessee State. If that's not a spring board for the 2018 season, I don't know what is. Right about the time the Mocs were finding themselves in an upswing, freshman QB Cole Copeland was finding himself under center, so that's no coincidence (though former Mississippi State QB Nick Tiano is very also capable). On offense, four offensive linemen return to the starting lineup — and eight starters total are back on "O". On defense, the magic number is seven starters back — and the kicker and punter and top return guy are all back on special teams. The Mocs will be very good on both sides of the line, that much is certain. The SoCon looks very competitive — again — but there's little doubt the Mocs will be one of the FCS' top candidates for a bounce back from their out-of-character 3-win total of a year ago. With 15 out of 22 starters back and a positive finish in 2017, the mood is a good one up in the Scenic City — and second-year coach Tom Arth has that tough "year one" behind him now and knows how to win.
FCS RECRUITING: Mocs Have Top 10 Class
BEST-CASE SCENARIO: The SoCon is going to be good this year, but Chattanooga proved it could play with the league's elite in Samford and Wofford last year, tightening up on "D" down the stretch. I think Chattanooga will be one of the Top 5 bounce back programs in the FCS in 2018 — programs that had a losing record in 2017 but are in the playoff discussion in November. There is a lot of good material to work with here and this is a traditional winner. I think a winning season is a lock, but are we talking about 8 or 9 wins, or 6 or 7 with the SoCon being full of schedule landmines? We'll see how 'Nooga navigates it.
TOP RETURNEE: DL Isaiah Mack (2nd team All SoCon – 7 TFL, 9 hurries, 54 tackles)
THE NEXT BEST: DL Derek Mahaffey (2nd team AllSoCon – 51 tackles, 5 TFL, 8 hurries); LB Tavon Lawson (52 tackles in 9 games, 6.5 TFLs); TE Bailey Lenoir (2nd team All SoCon); QB Cole Copeland (1,177 yards passing, 7 TDs); PR/KR Brandon Dowdell (excellent return man on special teams).
TOP NEWCOMER: RB Tyrell Price (JUCO All American and National Champion – led nation with 24 rushing TDs).
DID YOU KNOW?: NFL Hall of Famer Terrell Owens played his college football at Chattanooga. The 6-time Pro Bowler started for three years and caught 115 passes, and also anchored the school's 4×100 relay team that won an NCAA national title.
THE QUOTE: "It’s been a really good (quarterback) competition these first few weeks of spring. Nick and Cole have both done some really good things. We’ve got to work on consistency…and making great decisions. When they make good decisions, the ball moves…but we’re still making too many mistakes at that position. Both guys are young. They’ve got about half a season under their belt so mistakes are a part of it.." — Head Coach Tom Arth told the student newspaper, The University Echo, when asked about the QB situation
SOCIAL MEDIA SPOTLIGHT
THE HASHTAG: #GoMocs
FOOTBALL TWITTER: @GoMocsFB
.@terrellowens was drafted out of Tennessee-Chattanooga in the 3rd round of the '96 @NFL Draft by the @49ers. Tennessee-Chattanooga has produced 49 NFL players. Owens is the 1st finalist for the Pro Football Hall of Fame in school history. #PFHOF18
— Pro Football Hall of Fame (@ProFootballHOF) January 31, 2018
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