"Money game" opener okay with Mocs - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

"Money game" opener okay with Mocs

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CHATTANOOGA (WRCB) -- Russ Huesman doesn't really know where a so-called "money game" fits best in the schedule for a Football Championship Subdivision.

All he knows is its important to play them.

"Any exposure, whether its radio, TV, whatever, for our school is huge," Huesman said at Tuesday's weekly press conference.

Saturday's 2011 season-opener against No. 10 Nebraska is a slight schedule adjustment for the third-year coach, who has waited until November to play Football Bowl Subdivision powers Alabama and Auburn the last two years.

"In some ways you think playing it right now is the best, but you just never know how the season is going to unfold and what's going to happen during the course of this game," Huesman said. "I'm sure it seems like the best scenario is to play them early, but we'll see."

The last time the Mocs opened the season with an FBS opponent was at Oklahoma in 2009. That season UTC played a second "guarantee game" at Florida State two weeks later.

"I like them at the beginning because it gives us the opportunity to play this game, enjoy playing on the big stage, but then it leaves the Southern Conference schedule there for the back half, and that of course is our main focus," said quarterback B.J. Coleman.

Chattanooga will certainly be a little more limited in what it can do against the heavily-favored Cornhuskers, but Huesman is interested to see how his team competes, especially in the trenches.

The Mocs will start two freshman (center Patrick Sutton and left tackle Taylor Dodds) and one sophomore (guard Kevin Revis) on the offensive line, and two more freshman (defensive end Davis Tull and tackle Keyon Reed) making their first starts on the defensive front.

"They're going to have to grow up fast," Huesman said. "We'll be very inexperienced, and honestly, pretty light. We're going to play guys that are 260 or 270 pounds, where they'll probably have defensive lineman that are 310 pounds."

While there's not much the undersized Mocs can do about physical matchups, they can control their emotions. And UTC veterans are working hard with the team's youngsters to make sure early-game jitters don't last long.

"I told them on the first play you'll probably be really nervous, but after the first couple plays you start to get in a rhythm and it's just like any other game," said senior defensive back Chris Lewis-Harris, who made his first career appearance against the Sooners three years ago. "If they just come out and play the way they know how to play, we'll be able to compete."

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