By John Coleman:
CHATTANOOGA (mocsnews.com) – March is the month of many new beginnings. The weather can be summed up by this saying “in like a lamb, out like a lion” or “in like a lion, out like a lamb.” It’s unpredictable. The first super moon of the year appears in March. You can celebrate Pi Day, March 14th (3.14) by eating pie. Spring comes to life with flowers extra sunshine, spring break and March Madness. Along with all of those events, the ritual of spring football practice begins.
The month of March saw The University of Tennessee, Chattanooga joining the ranks of spring football practice in preparation of a new season, new players and new beginnings. The Mocs football team began their spring practice on Monday, March 28th for the 2022 fall season, their first normal season since Covid-19 began.
Mocs Coach Rusty Wright will experience his first spring practice. The 2019 spring practice was not held due to renovations that happened at Scrappy Moore Field after flood damage.
The Mocs hosted walk-on tryouts for all UTC students on February 4th, for the first time since the start of Covid-19 in 2019. With only 15 returning starters, the coaching staff will be looking for new faces to fill positions in offense and defense. When talking to Defensive Line Assistant Coach Nick Davidson about the tryouts, he said, “Before we hosted the tryouts, we spoke to all of the returning players and told them that their spot on the team is not guaranteed, that they will all have to earn it.”
UTC sophomore Parker Deaton tried out for the team in February and said, “I didn’t make the team which I’m devastated about because football has been my passion my whole life. But the players I was trying out with were legit.”
The Mocs have some work to do as they try to bounce back from their record of (6-5) overall a record of (5-3) in the 2021 season. It has been six years since the Mocs have had over six wins in a season. In 2016, the team finished (9-4) and second in the SoCon division behind The Citadel who finished (8-0). The Mocs football team has not won their division since 2014.
I asked Cole Copeland, quarterback for the UTC Mocs, how practice had been going this spring with the players, both returning and incoming. Copeland replied, “Practice has been better than the last couple of spring practices. I can tell that the guys are practicing with a little something extra.” He said incoming freshman Kendal Jackson, from Oak Ridge, Tennessee, could help out offensively tremendously.
Fans are looking for a great 2022 football season. I spoke with UTC senior Chase Franks and asked how often he attended games and what his hopes are for the upcoming season. He stated, “I have been attending the Mocs games since I was a freshman and I have saw us at high points and low points. Franks said he would love for the team to win the SoCon conference this season.”
“After Covid ruining the 2020 season and last year not going as planned, I need a 7-5 record or better.”
The Mocs will open at home on Saturday, September 3rd against Wofford.