By Peyton Gray, Staff Writer–
The Chattanooga Mocs will travel to Western Kentucky this Saturday to compete in their first– and only– football game of the season.
The Mocs are taking the field for the first time in nearly a year, their longest layoff since missing the 1943 and 1944 seasons due to World War II. This game was originally scheduled for Sept. 5., but was moved to the later date due to COVID-19.
This is the second year as head coach for Rusty Wright, who led UTC to their 19th winning record in SoCon play last year, and their seventh since 2009.
“We’re really looking forward to this Saturday,” Wright said. “We’re excited to have the opportunity to play college football.”
The Mocs will be coming into the game with 22 seniors on the current roster, their most since 1998. The offense will have nine starters back from 2019, with eight starters back on defense.
The Mocs offense were fourth in the SoCon in passing offense, seventh in scoring offense. Of the 18 players who caught a pass in the 2019 season, 14 are returning.
Senior quarterback Drayton Arnold, who played in three games off the bench last year, will have his first career start against the Hilltoppers.
“I know he’s going to be nervous and excited at the same time,” Wright said. “I just want him to relax and play, he’s definitely got it, he just needs to go out and do it.”
The Mocs have confidence at other positions besides QB as well.
Senior running back Tyrell Price will be making the start. He was the starter and preseason All-SoCon heading into 2019. He suffered a season-ending knee injury in the second game of 2019, taking a medical redshirt for the rest of the season.
Senior wide receiver Bryce Nunnelly will be starting as well. He has nine career 100-yard receiving games, is ninth all-time at UTC in receptions and has 2,214 career yards with 12 touchdowns and 149 catches.
“There’s no mystery to what we do offensively,” Wright said. “We’re going to have Tyrell Price in the backfield, Bryce [Nunnelly] at wide-out and we’re going to play how we play.”
The Mocs are not slacking on the defensive side either. They were No. 5 in the SoCon in rushing defense, passing yards allowed and total defense in 2019. They were also tied for the lead in total takeaways (21) with 10 fumble recoveries and 11 interceptions.
Senior defensive back Brandon Dowdell have five career interceptions and is a two-time first team All-SoCon.
Senior defensive back Jordan Jones had 12 passes defended in 2019, leading the SoCon.
“It feels like game week,” Jones said. “We’ve been looking forward to this since July, we’re ready to go see what we have.”