Durden ready to push the pace for Mocs' offense - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Durden ready to push the pace for Mocs' offense

Photo Courtesy: UTC Athletics/GoMocs.com Photo Courtesy: UTC Athletics/GoMocs.com

CHATTANOOGA (WRCB) -- Jeff Durden doesn't know much about most of his new players.

In fact, the new University of Tennessee at Chattanooga offensive coordinator knows very little about anything the Mocs' offense has done the last two years.

"Coach (Russ) Huesman asked me at lunch when I last saw them play. I saw them play Nebraska a few years ago," Durden said Wednesday at his introductory press conference. "That's really the last tape I've watched on them."

UTC's offense and personnel have changed quite a bit from that 2011 season-opener, but Durden says that's okay.

The former James Madison offensive coordinator was recruited by Huesman specifically for his familiarity with a spread offense similar to what the Mocs installed last year with dual-threat quarterbacks Jacob Huesman and Terrell Robinson. He's also familiar with Huesman, having coached against him in the Colonial Athletic Conference when Huesman was at Richmond.

But past that, he has plenty of learning to do.

"I want to get to know these guys and know what makes them tick," said Durden, who admitted not even knowing most of the Mocs' assistant coaches. "I want to see what parts of our staff are good at what. Then we'll assign responsibilities and we'll all work towards that common goal."

One of the guys now working towards that goal with him is Chris Harr.

The former Notre Dame High standout and Mocs' all-SoCon offensive tackle was hired last week as tight ends coach. He served as a graduate assistant with the offensive line last year after wrapping up his playing career, but now gets his first paying gig.

"I bleed blue and gold all the way through," Harr said. "I know where they've been. I know where they come from and what position they're in to win games. Our guys are going to be tough and smart.

"I'm going to give them all I've got and just go from there and make plays."

At its base, Durden's scheme is run-oriented with hopes of an efficient play-action pass game. However, he'll tailor many of the specific wrinkles to his players' strengths.

His pitch to Huesman focused on finding a variety of playmakers to spread the ball around, something UTC struggled to do last year.

"I think the job here is to convince these players that it isn't just about one or two or three guys," Durden said. "We want to get everybody involved."

While he doesn't yet have the specifics on how he'll get that done, there is one primary theme always visible in Durden's offense, which was originally created from the run-and-shoot passing game.

And it's one he hopes his players embrace in a hurry.

"Go reckless. Stay loose and score," he said. "I've always kind of gravitated towards that. I think that's when you get your best, when you're just playing wide open and playing fast."

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