Two for the Road: Mocs to play both QB's at USF
CHATTANOOGA (WRCB) -- The battle between Terrell Robinson and Jacob Huesman for the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga's starting quarterback spot is at ten months and counting.
Still, head coach Russ Huesman is no closer to declaring a winner.
In fact, he may not declare one at all ahead of this Saturday's season-opener at South Florida (6 p.m. ET on ESPN3).
"They'll both play. They may both be in there the first play," Huesman said during his weekly press conference Tuesday afternoon. "Does that mean they both start if they're both in their together?"
He wasn't joking.
The Mocs have worked on the scenario many times throughout fall camp. Huesman hit Robinson for a touchdown to during an early August practice, and Robinson faked a handoff to Huesman and scored on a keeper during one of the team's two preseason scrimmages.
"Sometimes as an offensive lineman, I don't even know they're both in there until the defense is yelling we've got two quarterbacks," said senior offensive lineman Adam Miller. "There's a lot you can do out of those two quarterback sets. It definitely brings that surprise element."
The Mocs will need as much of that as they can get against a stout Bulls' team picked to finish second this year in the Big East.
Russ Huesman said there are specific sets designed to utilize each quarterback's strengths, but the flow of the game and the hot hand may dictate playing time after kickoff.
"We may get out of this thing and one plays 65 plays and the other plays 15," Huesman said. "The one thing I don't want, though, is them being subbed out like lineman or linebackers. I want to say this guy is running it, and we'll come to the other as a change-up for a series or a specific package for them.
"We might use them more on the field at the same time, but their names will be next to certain plays and packages we want to execute during the game."
Jacob Huesman, a former Baylor star, is built a bit bigger and prefers to run downhill with more power, while Robinson, a former South Pittsburg star, is slick and smooth with breakaway speed.
But past their style of play, not much has separated the two underclassmen throughout the competition, and Miller says they each have the full support of the entire offense.
"They're hard to separate. Jacob is sometimes a little louder in the huddle, but that's not to say that's something big that Terrell doesn't have," Miller said. "Terrell definitely has that game experience, though, that Jacob's going to need this upcoming year."
It's not a bad problem to have in Russ Huesman's eyes. In fact, he wishes he had a few more tough decisions to make.
"I also said that about running backs. I'd like four or five good corners, four or five good everything," he said with a smile. "We just don't have it."
Jackson named starting running back
Russ Huesman said J.J. Jackson is the Mocs' No. 1 tailback, but that doesn't mean he'll get the start on Saturday.
The senior earned the top spot on the depth chart through his work in camp, but Marquis Greene and Keon Williams figure to play large roles for UTC this season, as well.
Huesman said which player is on the field for the first snap will have more to do with which play is called rather than the pecking order at the position.
"We'll kind of play it based on who has the hot hand," Huesman said. "Marquis may start if his package is called for the first play. We might have Marquis and J.J. in their together, or maybe J.J. and Keon.
"But if we were going to say right now who we would start at tailback, it'd be J.J. Jackson."
Haynes to miss opener, Anthony on track
Huesman updated a few of the team's more notable injuries Tuesday, which was good news for wideout Marlon Anthony and bad for safety Dean Haynes.
Anthony has nursed a sprained his ankle the past few weeks, but Huesman thinks the starting junior split end should be ready to go against the Bulls.
The trainers said today that Marlon felt as good as he's felt since he did it," Huesman. "An ankle is tough for a wideout because he's got to cut, get out of breaks and jump up and come down. He might be trying to protect it a little bit in practice right now.
"Having a few days off in the last week hopefully helped give him a little more bounce, so by game time we're hoping he's close to 100-percent."
Haynes, who transferred to UTC from NC State over the summer, will not play in Saturday's season-opener in Tampa because of a foot injury suffered in the first week of preseason camp.
The former Norhtwest Whitfield High star had his cast removed last week and may be near 100-percent health-wise, but that doesn't necessarily mean he'll be ready for next Thursday's home-opener.
"We're hoping for Glenville State, but that's best case scenario," Huesman said. "He's watched at practice and he's in meetings, but until you get out there you can't grasp everything in the defense. He's new to the program, so he won't pick it up as quick.
"He may be healthy for that game, but how effective he can be playing in that game is the issue."