CHATTANOOGA (WRCB) -- Chattanooga dropped its season-opener 40-7 last weekend in Nebraska, but you wouldn't know it by talking to Russ Huesman.
The third-year UTC head coach said Tuesday his team is in better shape after leaving Lincoln than before it arrived.
"Really, that probably shouldn't have been a 40-7 game. We played way better than the score," Huesman said. "We went toe-to-toe with them, and I think our guys came out feeling pretty good about themselves.
"They know that if we put in the time and effort, we have a chance to be pretty good this year."
The 25th-ranked Mocs have a chance to back-up that claim this Saturday in their home-opener against No. 10 Jacksonville State.
UTC nearly knocked off the Gamecocks on the road last season before blowing a fourth-quarter lead. Jacksonville State head coach Jack Crowe said Monday this looks like the most talented Chattanooga team he's ever faced, putting his program's four-game win streak in doubt.
"I guess I'll take the compliment," Huesman shrugged Tuesday. ""But I don't really know what kind of Chattanooga teams he saw before last year."
Saturday's game will be the first-ever regular season matchup between two ranked teams at Finley Stadium, and the first of any kind in Chattanooga since 1984.
And while two games into the season may seem a bit early to be declaring a "must-win" game, Huesman is applying pressure to his players.
"We need a win. We need to win," Huesman said. "I'm sure there's someone out there saying the season is starting this week, but I disagree. The season started last week and we lost.
"We're 0-1 right now. We need to be 1-1."