CHATTANOOGA (WRCB) -- Of all the shocking stats from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga's disappointing season-opening loss to UT-Martin last week, one cut a little deeper than the rest for Russ Huesman.
"We had 36 missed tackles," the Mocs' coach said quietly. "You guys must not think that's a lot since you didn't fall off the podium, but I about fell out of my chair saying it again."
Those three dozen whiffs led to more than 450 yards of total offense for the Skyhawks, including 307 yards on the ground.
Huesman cited poor technique from his players, though he also noted most of those players were on the field far too long.
"We should have substituted more," Huesman said. "That was a lot of what led to the second half meltdown is those guys just wore down. This week we're going to practice more players and play more players."
Tackling will be the focus in practice all week, though that doesn't mean the team will start tackling to the ground. The Mocs will still only "thud" in workouts, which means full contact but keeping players on their feet, though Huesman hopes to make it a little more physical and full-speed.
"36 missed tackles is unacceptable," said senior defensive back Chaz Moore. "When it's thud, you thud, but we still have to be wrapping up and driving our feet. There won't be any more taking off in practice this week."
This week's opponent, Georgia State, threw the ball 51 times in last week's 31-21 loss to Samford, but Huesman expects their gameplan to be different against the Mocs.
"If I were them and I watched us against UT-Martin, I'd hand the ball off 89 times and never throw a pass," Huesman said. "They have to be licking their chops saying we can't tackle, fit gaps or run to the football. They're going to want to get themselves 300 yards rushing."
Moore is one of many UTC players hope that's exactly what the Panthers try to do.
"We were one of the best defenses in the country last year, so for us to give up 300 yards rushing is unacceptable," he said. "Of course we want them to try to run the ball to show we made progress from last week.
"We can't let one game determine our season. Last year we had 11 games and this year we have 11 games left. We'll look at (UT-Martin) like a learning experience that we have to get better from. There's no way we can play like that and be a good team in this conference."
Notes: Huesman said defensive end Toyvian Brand (ankle) will play, while safety D.J. Key (foot) will return to practice this week in hopes of playing on Saturday. The Mocs' coach said fellow safety Zach McCarter may return to practice Wednesday and added defensive back Will Johnson (shoulder) has opted to forego surgery in hopes of returning to the field in the next few weeks.
Huesman was also asked about the status of wide receiver/quarterback Terrell Robinson, who was held out of last week's game with an apparent hamstring injury.
"He'll play," the fifth-year coach replied.
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