Mocs' Notes: UTC hoping to end long home skid vs. Furman - WSMV Channel 4

Mocs' Notes: UTC hoping to end long home skid vs. Furman

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CHATTANOOGA (WRCB) -- Russ Huesman always made it a point to deliver a list of motivational notes to his team every Friday night before a game.

The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga coach would flip through media guides and game notes each week pulling the lopsided streaks and stats that had gone against the Mocs for long periods of time.

These days, though, they're getting harder and harder to find.

"It used to be about how we haven't had back-to-back winning seasons since 1984 and how we hadn't beaten so-and-so since this," Huesman said. "Back then it was a little bit easier to find those stats. (Since we have won a little bit), I've stopped doing it because there isn't as much interesting stuff to talk to them about.

"But I'm glad I'm through with that stuff."

Fortunately for Huesman, and unfortunately for the Mocs, this week's homecoming visit from Furman brings with it a very clear motivational note: UTC has not beaten the Paladins in Chattanooga since 1993, a string of nine straight losses in the Scenic City that includes all eight matchups at Finley Stadium.

"I didn't even know that until everyone was talking about it today," said safety Zach McCarter. "But yeah, I'd definitely like to go out Saturday and snap that."

That's not to say the Mocs haven't had success against Furman in Huesman's era. Chattanooga snapped its 15-game overall losing streak to the Paladins with a 36-28 road win in 2010, and has actually won its last two trips to Greenville.

No more "pylon dives" for the Mocs
Huesman grimaced when asked about his team's ball-security near the goal-line in the wake of two plays in last week's 42-21 win over Western Carolina.

Jacob Huesman lost a fumble in the first half when he tried to stretch the ball toward the goal line, and Marquis Green nearly committed another turnover when he lost control of the ball stretching for the pylon.

"I see it all the time. Guys are just sticking the ball out there and there's no reason to do it. It drives me nuts," Huesman said. "I don't buy that it's instincts. It wasn't instincts to do it ten years ago and we certainly don't teach it. We coach against it.

"I think about 75-percent of the time it's a guy hot-dogging it."

Green's play was ruled a touchdown, though replays showed it was quite questionable.

"I was just trying to get the ball over the line real quick because I saw the defender coming. I wasn't doing it because I see it on TV or anything," Green said. "But I know he doesn't like us doing it. I'll probably hear his voice the next time I'm in that situation and decide not to do it again."

Tennessee's Pig Howard lost a costly fumble in overtime of last week's loss to Georgia when he dove for the pylon. Vols' coach Butch Jones said his wideout was simply "trying to make a play."

Huesman, however, has coached his guys against making such high-risk, high-reward attempts.

"If it's fourth and goal and the game is on the line, okay go for it," Huesman said. "But otherwise I say just keep the ball in your hand and barrel it in there. If you get in, you get in. If you don't, it's third and inches or whatever."

Lott's future remains uncertain after elbow injury
Huesman did not seem optimistic about the future of senior defensive tackle Derrick Lott, who injured his elbow two weeks ago against Georgia Southern.

Lott, a former transfer from Georgia, did not practice last week and did not play against Western Carolina. Huesman doesn't know when he will return, if at all.

"Honestly, I don't even know how the injury happened," Huesman said. "It's a strange injury, that's for sure."

Initial tests and X-rays were negative on Lott's elbow, but it has not responded to treatment. The team now believes there may be ligament or tendon damage that could make the injury worse than originally feared.

"It doesn't happen a lot to football players. They say it happens a lot to baseball players, especially pitchers," Huesman said. "It's just a tough deal because he's a great player and a great kid.

"But if he doesn't play any more this year, he still has a bright future ahead of him."

"Tough" Herren returns to practice
Huesman said offensive lineman Synjen Herren was cleared to return to practice this week and should play Saturday against Furman. The former Northwest Whitfield star, who has battled a variety of injuries throughout his UTC career, missed last week's game with a shoulder injury suffered at Georgia Southern.

"Synjen is a tough, tough kid. He'll play in pain. He'd play on crutches," Huesman said. "I think what we're going to have to do is cover every part of him in a brace and send him out there, but they don't make any tougher than him."

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