Chattanooga (3-4, 1-3) at Elon (4-3, 2-2)
Saturday, 3:00 p.m.
Rhodes Stadium (11,250) – Elon, N.C.
Series Record: Elon leads 6-2
Why Saturday is important
The Mocs are still clinging to hope that a FCS playoff berth can be secured, but the task won’t be easy. Chattanooga hasn’t had much luck with Elon since the series began in 2003, losing its last five games to the Phoenix. The Mocs last defeated Elon in 2005. If they can reverse that trend, they have two home games and a winnable road game at Samford to close out the season in their quest to get to seven victories, the minimum number for FCS playoff consideration.
Three things to know about Elon
The Phoenix present the top passing attack in the SoCon (265.9 yards per game). Junior quarterback Thomas Wilson has thrown for 1,854 yards this season, 12th among FCS quarterbacks. . Elon has produced four consecutive winning seasons, the program’s longest run of success since a nine-season streak from 1980-88. . Elon has been classified as NCAA Division I-AA (now FCS) for 13 years and in that time has produced a 69-73 record. That includes a 47-51 mark since joining the SoCon.
What you should know about Elon coach Jason Swepson
Swepson is in his first season as a head coach after taking over for Pete Lembo, who made the jump to the FBS when he was hired by Ball State last December. Swepson is a protégé of NC State coach Tom O’Brien. He served 12 seasons as an O’Brien assistant at Boston College and NC State, where he coached running backs. “I was fortunate enough to be with coach O’Brien for 12 years to see how a program is run with integrity,” Swepson said after landing the Elon job. “My program will be just like coach O’Brien’s at Boston College and NC State.”
UTC player to watch
Will it be redshirt freshman quarterback Terrell Robinson, who has won Southern Conference freshman of the week honors the last two weeks, or three-year starter B.J. Coleman, who injured his shoulder against Georgia Southern two games ago? If Coleman is healthy, he’s the man. But at the very least, Robinson will see time as a change-of-pace option; he’s run for 184 yards the last two games while still maintaining UTC’s potent passing game. As of mid-week, signs pointed to Robinson making his second straight start.
Elon player to watch
Twice this season, junior receiver Aaron Mellette has been chosen co-national wide receiver of the week by College Football Performance Awards, which utilizes a scientific ranking of the extent to which individual players increase the overall effectiveness of their teams. Mellette caught 11 passes for 180 yards and a touchdown against Vanderbilt and, two games later, racked up 16 catches for 237 yards and a score against North Carolina Central. For the season, Mellette has caught 74 passes for 990 yards and seven touchdowns. He’s second in the FCS in receptions and third in receiving yards per game (141.43).
Random facts to impress your friends
Chattanooga’s only two wins in eight meeting against Elon have come on the road. . New Phoenix defensive coordinator Ed Pinkham’s emphasis on pressure has quickly paid dividends. Through seven games, Elon has accumulated 13 sacks and 57 tackles for loss compared to just 13 sacks and 51 TFL all last season. . Chattanooga’s passing defense is still No. 1 in the FCS. The Mocs are allowing only 117.4 yards per game. Their 92.7 pass efficiency defense rating leads the SoCon and is No. 3 in the nation. Elon will counter with the No. 2 pass defense in the FCS (129.7 ypg). . Chattanooga hasn’t allowed a first-quarter point in its last four games. . The Mocs’ ground game failed to generate 100 yards against Eastern Kentucky, Appalachian State and The Citadel, but in their last two games against Georgia Southern and Western Carolina, they’ve averaged more than 200.
“(Beating Western Carolina last Saturday) was a great win for us. We needed a win badly. I think the one good thing about the game, and what we needed, was that we came out pretty quick. Our offense taking the ball, moving it downfield and scoring was huge for a lot of reasons, but for one, confidence. After you lose three in a row, it is human nature that everyone thinks you are no good, and for our offense to do that was huge.” – Chattanooga head coach Russ Huesman
The Mocs will win if .
They can shut down Elon’s passing attack. It’ll be strength on strength – Chattanooga leads the nation in pass defense and Elon leads the SoCon in passing offense. But the Mocs will also have to find a way to score against an Elon defense that is underrated. The Phoenix is generating far more pressure against opposing quarterbacks than it has in years past.
The Mocs will lose if .
They aren’t able to slow down the potent Elon passing combination of quarterback Thomas Wilson and receiver Aaron Mellette. The Mocs can help their cause by continuing to be balanced offensively, something they’ve accomplished the last two games behind Terrell Robinson. The redshirt freshman quarterback rushed for 117 yards against Georgia Southern and 70 against Western Carolina.
Photo Credit: UTC athletics