The Chattanooga football program released its schedule for the upcoming season today, and the 12-game slate looks quite a bit different than it did a year ago.
Mocs head coach Russ Huesman seems happy with it.
“I think it’s probably the best since we’ve been here,” he said. “It was time for us to move on. It was time for us to play other teams.”
UTC’s non-conference schedule underwent a complete overhaul.
Gone is Jacksonville State, a school UTC has faced eight times in the last nine years, as well as Division II Glenville State — a last-minute fill-in for Presbyterian.
They’ve been replaced with a pair of in-state rivals in UT-Martin and Austin Peay, along with Georgia State.
“I know they’re not real happy with me right now down in Jacksonville, but I just felt like I wanted to play other teams,” Huesman said. “I wanted to play UT-Martin, Austin Peay. I want to play Tennessee Teach down the road. I like those games. ... Jacksonville State probably thinks we’re scared of them. We’re not. We want to play different people.”
Unlike last year, when the team opened its season with a trip to South Florida, the Mocs have moved this year’s “money game” to their season finale. They’ll play at two-time defending BCS Champion Alabama on Nov. 23, which is the team’s second trip to Tuscaloosa, Ala., in five years.
The Mocs were crushed by the Crimson Tide 45-0 in 2009.
“Having Alabama at the end of the year, I like doing that,” Chattanooga head coach Russ Huesman said. “They’re going to be good; we all know it. They’ll probably be playing for a national championship again when we play them. When they’re that good at the end of the year and you’re playing them, I think the exposure for your football program is huge.”
The Mocs open the season on Thursday Aug. 29 when they welcome the Skyhawks to Finley Stadium. It’s the second straight time that UTC has held its home opener on a Thursday night, and the third time in the Russ Huesman era.
“I like it; our administration likes it,” Huesman said. “It’s a possibility for a really good crowd to open up the season, not having to compete with Tennessee or Alabama; people who are on the fringe. It’s been really successful for us, and I’m excited we could get it done again.”
Chattanooga plays two of its first three at home, and the team’s only road contest in the first month of the season is a short trip to the Georgia Dome to face the Panthers, who'll be in their inaugural year in the Football Bowl Subdivision.
The Mocs will enjoy a bye the following week before kicking off their Southern Conference schedule against Georgia Southern on Sept. 28.
“We’re getting an open date to at least catch our breath,” Huesman said. “When you’re playing an option team, extra preparation helps. That’s nothing we did, that’s just how the conference schedule was set up. That worked out pretty good.”
UTC’s SoCon slate consists of home games against Western Carolina, Furman (homecoming), The Citadel and Wofford, along with road games at Georgia Southern, Elon, Appalachian State and Samford.
Michael Murphy covers UTC athletics for Nooga.com. Follow him on Twitter @MichaelNooga.