CHATTANOOGA (WRCB) -- The goal at the beginning of the season for the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga football team was to win the Southern Conference championship and qualify for the Football Championship Subdivision playoffs.
And those goals remain despite last Saturday's 34-17 loss to Appalachian State that left the Mocs at 1-3 overall, and 0-1 in SoCon play.
"No, I'm not even starting that talk," said head coach Russ Huesman when asked about the Mocs' current standing in regards to the FCS playoff race. "I can't even fathom why any of our players would be looking past this game this week."
Going by recent history, it would appear UTC needs to go unbeaten over its final seven games to make either of those goals a reality. It's rare the SoCon champ has more than one or two losses, and no team has ever received an at-large bid to the FCS bracket with only six wins against Division I competition.
While the Mocs could still lose a game and finish with a 7-4 mark, their lone victory to this point against Division II Glenville State won't count towards playoff eligibility.
"It's just the cliche: We think game to game," said offensive lineman Kevin Revis. "I didn't even know we had a bye week next week until coach just mentioned it. All I know is we're playing The Citadel this Saturday and we're going to have to play a good game to beat them.
"To think otherwise, it's just not the way you do it."
Huesman knows it's not out of the question to win out the rest of the way. In his second year as an assistant at Richmond, the Spiders won seven in a row to rally to make the playoffs after a 1-3 start.
Still, he's not ready to talk about his team's back being against the wall.
"I would hope our guys just go out and play every game hard, play for pride, and not think along those lines," Huesman said. "Let's just go win a game. We need to win one game, get to next week and then see what happens.
"If you start to think about all those things, you'll never get an ounce of sleep. I don't think along those lines. I think we're going to get on a roll and we're going to go."
Higgins: Mocs' defense best against the option
The Citadel's head coach Kevin Higgins lobbed some praise at the Mocs Monday when he told The Post and Courier's Jeff Hartsell that UTC does "by far" the best job defending the 15th-ranked Bulldogs' triple-option offense in the SoCon.
Huesman wasn't so sure.
"I guess we all have to be nice to each other," Huesman joked. "I can't imagine we defend the option better than Georgia Southern, Wofford or The Citadel. I mean, they see it every day.
"It's nice of him to say that, but I don't think that's true."
The Citadel (3-1, 2-0 in SoCon play) ranks third in the SoCon and fifth in the country with 327.3 rushing yards per game, while Chattanooga is fourth in the conference at stopping the run (112.8 yards against).
Last season UTC bottled up the Bulldogs to just 62 yards of total first-half offense while building a 27-0 lead, only to give up 206 yards and 28 unanswered second-half points in a 28-27 loss at Finley Stadium.
"We actually try to watch what Georgia Southern did to them defensively to see what they liked to do, and vice-versa to see what The Citadel did to Georgia Southern because they both know the offense so well," Huesman said. "But I don't think we defend it necessarily better than anybody."
UGA transfer Lott "feeling more comfortable" at Chattanooga
Defensive tackle Derrick Lott's body is more sore than its ever been in his college football career, but the University of Georgia transfer believes that's a good thing.
"I was thinking today about how I have to get more rest because I'm actually playing every game here," he said. "At Georgia I didn't get to play that much, so it's a change. It's different, but it's something I'm happy to get used to."
Lott said he's starting to feel more comfortable in the Mocs' scheme and just campus life in general.
The 6-foot-4, 303-pound junior has looked right at home on the field, already recording 12 tackles, one sack and a fumble recovery in his first four games at UTC.
"I expect to go out there and be one of the dominant defensive lineman here and in the conference," Lott said. "I know I've heard fans saying that because I'm a DI transfer I should be making every play, but it's just not always that easy."
While Lott got some experience playing against some of the best athletes and schemes in the SEC, Saturday's matchup against The Citadel will be a first for him.
He's never played against at triple-option offense, which can often be a difficult experience for a defensive lineman.
"I started yesterday meeting with my position coach to get ahead," he said. "We practice it a bit at Georgia because we played Georgia Tech, but I never got to play in game against an option team or against Tech.
"I think, though, if I can get the technique down for this first game against a triple-option team I'll be prepared to face the next two (Wofford and Georgia Southern)."
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