By Jay McDaniel, Sports Editor—
After the Mocs’ football game against this season’s SEC opponent, the Tennessee Volunteers, questions start to raise about our situation at QB.
The Mocs got off to a pretty bumpy start in Neyland Stadium on Saturday, but that only continued for the rest of the afternoon as UTK put UTC in the dirt with a final score of 45-0.
Tennessee entered the matchup favored heavily, and they were able to show why in just the first six plays. They made their first touchdown drive look easy, especially after they ran the opening kickoff all the way to UTC’s 41-yard line. After that, they continued to end the game before it even really got started.
Less than two minutes later, they scored again after blocking a UTC punt and running it 24 yards to the house.
But the Volunteers didn’t just wallop the Mocs on Saturday, the Mocs put a beating on themselves. The Mocs totalled five turnovers during the game, consisting of two interceptions from each quarterback that played and two fumbles, one lost.
“Can’t do it, doesn’t matter who we’re playing, we can’t do that,” head coach Rusty Wright said on turnovers. “We can’t turn the ball over five times against anyone. The bad part about it is, there was one throw in the first half, Nick wasn’t expecting the guy there. The rest of them, those are our errors. It’s not what they did, those are our errors. Bad throws or not in the right spot; you can’t turn the ball over five times, get a punt blocked, drop a punt snap. You can’t do that.”
Chattanooga was able to make a decent showing from a couple of pretty passes from Nick Tiano, Chattanooga, and some runs strung together by Elijah Ibitokun-Hanks, Newark, N.J., that brought the Mocs within the 10-yard line. Ailym Ford, Florence, S.C., carried the Mocs into the endzone, but a false start penalty and a lost fumble to follow ended the drive.
“It just shows it takes everybody,” Ibitokun-Hanks said about the disappointing end to that drive. “They’ve got to do their 1/11th and one guy’s mess can mess up the whole play.”
Ibitokun-Hanks had a bit of a standout afternoon, however. After only getting four rush attempts in both of the Mocs’ first games of the season, he got 15 touches and led the Mocs in yards with 85.
Outside of rushing the ball, the Mocs were hardly able to move. They rang up just 76 yards through the air on just nine completed passes, split between Tiano and Drayton Arnold, Myrtle Beach, S.C.
Arnold threw the ball for the first time this season in Knoxville, and started out looking much better than Tiano did on Saturday. That “hope” was short-lived, as Arnold threw two efforless interceptions and the ball game, if possible, was even more owned by the Vols.
“I’ve never been sitting here and been this bad,” Wright said about being a Head Coach after such a loss. “I’ve been an assistant and it’s been this bad. We’re going to find out a lot about this group…It doesn’t do any good to get your butt whipped this bad and not learn anything from it. That’s the thing, you’ve got to learn from it or history will repeat itself.”
Here’s to hoping that’s exactly what the Mocs do. UTC will return home to Finley this Saturday to play James Madison University, and they hope to bounce back hard.