CHATTANOOGA (WRCB) -- Russ Huesman is taking every precaution he can.
The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga football team usually holds some early-morning practices in the first few weeks of preseason camp, but this season they're pushing the limit.
Handcuffed by his team's summer class schedule and the frequent chance of afternoon storms, the Mocs have been on the field at Scrappy Moore by 6:30 a.m. the past two days.
That's even early for Huesman.
"If we go at 6:30, I sleep in the office," said the fifth-year coach, who has blown up an air mattress in his workspace at McKenzie Arena to save time driving home. "We have everybody calling everybody on our staff to make sure we're all up.
"It's enough when a player is late and you yell at them, but a coach can't be showing up late."
The Mocs have been showing up in the dark to start their work, a routine that will continue through next week. It usually takes about 20-30 minutes until the sun emerges enough to provide some help.
"I actually don't mind the walk down in the dark. It's really peaceful and there's no cars on the roads," said quarterback Jacob Huesman. "It's the warm-ups that are tough because we're out here throwing before that 6:30 whistle. You can't see anything.
"Basically we're just lobbing balls in the air instead of throwing anything hard. We don't want to break any noses out here."
Despite the early start, the team hasn't had a problem getting up for the workouts. Of course, a veteran roster helps in that regard.
"Some of the young guys will have to learn from experience that they need to get to bed on time, but it's not a big deal for most of us," said senior defensive tackle Derrick Lott. "Once we get out here, it's just like an afternoon practice. Once we hit that field we are ready to go."
The training staff has pumped music throughout practices to help keep the energy up, though it's not from Coach Huesman's playlist.
"No, I don't know any of the songs they keep playing," he said.
Huesman and his staff, however, do know that eventually the team will need more than music to stay focused.
"It's still early in camp right now so they feel good and their legs are fresh. They don't have any problems getting up," Huesman said. But next week, once they've been doing this for six or seven days and their legs are feeling weak, that's when it will be up to us coaches to make sure we keep them going."
Of course, there is a responsibility that falls on the players, as well, to take care of their own bodies when they're away from the field. Veterans, especially, have learned the secrets to this success.
"You just have to take it one day and one thing at a time," said offensive lineman Kevin Revis. "You can't keep ripping your paper out after each single thing you do and count down the days. That will make camp feel like forever. You just have to take everything as it comes and not look too far ahead.
"Like me right now, I'm just focused on this nap I have coming up this afternoon. That's a veteran move for survival, making sure you get a nap."
It may help even more if Huesman would even let him crash in his office.
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