CHATTANOOGA (WRCB) -- There were no motivational speeches after the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga's 14-7 loss to Furman last week. And there have been no meetings about what's left for the Mocs to accomplish in 2011 now that its playoff hopes are gone.
Coach Russ Huesman believes it all speaks for itself.
"They can do the math. I think if they're in college right now, they can do 4 + 2 = 6, so they know," Huesman said in reference to UTC's 4-5 overall record.
Two more wins will give Chattanooga a third straight winning season for the first time in more than two decades. It may not seem like much to Moc Maniacs who had playoff hopes, but it's still an important achievement for players, especially seniors, who have played an integral role in turning the program around.
"We're all competitive people. We all want to win every game," said sophomore offensive lineman Kevin Revis. "It is tough knowing the playoffs are out of the picture, but we're like a bunch of brothers out there, and you don't want to let your brother down.
"We want to play well for each other and the fans, and it would be a disservice to the fans and the rest of the team if you don't play as hard as you can the rest of the way."
Huesman said it's human nature to throw in the towel when a team fails to reach its primary goals, but he doesn't feel like he's got anyone doing that on his team.
"I talk to them about having pride in everything they do and every game they play no matter what they're playing for," he said. "I hope they do. I hope everybody wants to play and is excited to play."
It may be more like a twist of the knife than a consolation prize, but Huesman knows how close UTC was from playing for so much more in the season's final two weeks. Three straight losses by a combined four points derailed the Mocs in the middle of the season, leaving them in a must-win position for their final five games.
A botched snap at No. 3 Appalachian State. A failed two-point conversion at No. 1 Georgia Southern. The failure to secure a few first downs in the second half against The Citadel. An injury to starting quarterback B.J. Coleman. The small errors in huge situations add up to the next big problem UTC must overcome in its rebuilding process: learning how to win close games.
"That's something we're going to have to address in the offseason," Huesman said. "As coaches as the season goes on, it's easy to say 'If we'd just made this play or we'd just done this.'
"But when the season is over you look at the whole body of work and see what's deficient, that's going to be one of the things we look at. Why aren't we winning those games?"
That's not to say Huesman is thinking ahead to the end of the season. And he's definitely not looking ahead to 2012. He refuses to shuffle his lineup to give more playing time to guys who will likely be key contributors in the future.
After all, simple math tells him there's still plenty of reasons to keep playing for the present.
"I don't even want to talk about next year. We're playing the best players to win Saturday, and then we're playing the best players to win when we play Wofford," Huesman said. "We're not going to play certain guys to get experience for next year. I know there's places that will do that, but I don't believe in it.
"I believe you want to win every game that you line up and play. You don't play for next week or next year."