Mocs' Coleman keeps bouncing back from hits
CHATTANOOGA (WRCB) -- B.J. Coleman is used to players making cracks about the color of his jersey on the practice field.
But this week, no one is laughing at the Chattanooga quarterback's bright red no-contact jersey.
"We usually have a little fun with him about his no-contact jersey during the week, but he sure does earn his keep on Saturdays," said wide receiver Jeff Veres.
Last Saturday, in particular.
"I'd take it off for them, but I need it a little bit right now," Coleman joked Tuesday.
The senior signal caller was sacked four times and hit 13 times total in last week's 14-12 loss at Appalachian State. Three of those hits were jokingly described as "life-threatening" by offensive coordinator Marcus Satterfield in an interview with the Chattanooga Times-Free Press.
"There were a couple times I got hit and went 'Woo, baby. I better get back up quick. I don't want anyone to think I'm down for the count,'" Coleman said.
Watching Coleman pull himself off the turf has become a recurring theme through the first four games of the season. And the coaches aren't the only ones to notice it.
"I saw his parents after the game," said head coach Russ Huesman. "His mom gave me one of those looks like, 'You better figure this out.'"
Coleman has no doubt his team will get it figured out, a positive outlook Huesman describes as his quarterback's best quality. In true captain form, Coleman views his growing array of bumps and bruises as nothing more than a learning opportunity.
"It was definitely an experience that needed to happen in order to get this fixed," Coleman said. "Now that we've seen the weakness, we can go to work on the solutions."
The Mocs have surrendered 12 sacks through the first four games, which is the highest total in the Southern Conference.
Huesman acknowledged his offensive line is young and still learning, but he also assigned blame to blitz pickup in the backfield and poor route-running by UTC's wide receivers.
Despite the struggles, Coleman always seems to find a way to bounce back, as evident by his late scoring strike to Sloan Allison that gave the Mocs a chance late in Boone.
"He's a warrior in there," said Veres. "It's hard to ever tell that he's rattled. His composure on the field is incomparable to anyone else I've ever played with."
Playing through the pain is the only way Coleman knows, so his hard-nosed approach will not change heading into Saturday's matchup with The Citadel.
Football's a contact sport, so he expects to get hit. However, he wouldn't mind the return of red-jersey jokes at practice next week.
"You treat the ground like a hot plate. Get back up as fast as you can and never let them see you sweat no matter how much it hurts," Coleman said. "We're going to get it fixed. We need to get it fixed. We'll be ready to rock and roll this weekend."