The UTC Mocs face a tough test Thursday night in Mount Pleasant, Michigan against the Central Michigan Chippewas.
The Mocs will line up against a FBS team that is considerably larger up front on the offensive line. Coach Russ Huesman has studied film and the depth chart. "You know they're going to be physical. Everyone of them are 300(lbs) or more. They're anywhere from 300 and 316," Huesman noted at the final news conference Tuesday.
The Chippewas are a team known for a power running game behind its big offensive line. The Mocs have a plan to counter that attack.
Senior defensive lineman Zack Rayl summed it up in one word. "Speed. We have a lot of speed on the D line. Just being able to go around them. Hopefully, that's what we do."
Coach Huesman said the Mocs will have to "use team speed, move people around" and find the gaps for linebackers and get the Chippewas into the passing game.
Rayl added, "They're going to try to pound the ball, run the ball, so we gotta stop the ball right off and then they're going to get the play action. We just got to react, run and then react."
Aside from the running game, the Chippewas have a dynamic senior receiver, Titus Davis, who earned first team All-MAC honors last season. Huesman said Davis is really talented, attacks the football and has good size. "It'll be a tough match-up for our guys, especially a young secondary. But we got to figure out ways to limit him," Huesman said.
One factor that should benefit both teams -- the weather. Huesman and players have been checking conditions and expect to play in temps in the high '60's come game time.
Junior offensive lineman Brandon Morgan is one of the leaders in the trenches. As expected, Morgan's studied the tape on the Chippewas defensive front seven. "They're really big guys and they're quick. And so all we need to be is assignment sound, make sure we get our techniques right and we should be good," Morgan said.
And the Mocs are ready to put all the work from spring ball, to summer workouts and fall camp into action. Rayl said the time is now. "I about got chill bumps right now, just thinking about it to be honest with you. Being able to run out there and make plays, play with your brothers, knowing you got their back and they got yours. That's the best feeling in the world."
The Mocs fly out to Michigan Wednesday afternoon. Game time is Thursday, 7:00pm (EDT). The game will be televised on ESPN3.
by John Madewell