Chattanooga wide receivers coach Will Healy can’t help but get a little excited thinking about what lies ahead for the Mocs‘ offense.
“I’m telling you, there’s some really good things,” said Healy. “We’ll be playing fast and using tempo; kind of dictating what defenses are able to do to us. It’s fun. It’s exciting.
The finished product is still pretty far off, though.
The somewhat new system, brought in by first-year offensive coordinator Jeff Durden, is definitely still a work in progress, but it’s starting to take shape. The offense implemented the tempo portion of the scheme for the first time at Monday’s practice at Scrappy Moore Field—the team’s fifth of 15 workouts this spring.
There were, and still are, some mental hurdles to overcome, but the players and coaches are starting to see the potential.
“It’s a defense’s nightmare that I hope we’ll be able to utilize correctly,” Healy said.
First the players have to learn it, though.
“I guess you could say it has been kind of hectic, having to learn yet another offense,” senior receiver Marlon Anthony said. “People are still learning where to go, what to do and what not to do, but we’re getting the hang of it and starting to get into the swing of things.”
While there’s been some carry over from last season’s version of the spread, there’s plenty for the players to wrap their heads around this spring. As junior receiver Ron Moore put it, “kind of not totally different, but new to us.”
"It's been exciting for us to learn what he likes to do and kind of plug our playmakers in to find ways to make it successful," Healy said. "We’ve got about four or five guys that provide matchup problems, and we’ve got to find ways to get the ball to them.”
That’s something UTC failed to do in 2012. Pass catchers like Tommy Hudson, Marquis Green and Ron Moore all showed flashes last season, but all three felt underutilized in an offense that finished eighth in the nine-team Southern Conference in total offense (349.8 ypg).
When not playing quarterback, Terrell Robinson was, and will likely continue to be Chattanooga's top receiving threat, but others have to get more involved.
“That’s the job of the offensive staff,” Healy said. “There are ways to get it to people on the perimeter, on bubbles and speed sweeps. There’s passing concepts where you can get guys isolated and just formation people to death where you’re getting one-on-one match ups.”
Robinson led the team with 49 receptions in a little over half a season at wide out in 2012. The sophomore trio of Hudson, Green and Moore combined for just 56.
Anthony was another underachiever in the Mocs’ receiving corps last season. The 6-5, 220-pounder caught just 11 balls for 101 yards while battling a persistent ankle injury in 2012.
“It’s not going to be an issue this year, thank goodness,” said Anthony, who leads the unit with 45 career catches for 628 yards and eight scores. “I’m excited. I just want to get the ball—I’ve been saying this for four years—and show everyone what I can do.”
"We’ve got six or seven that I feel like can play at this level and be really good receivers, but they’ve got to prove it day in and day out," Healy said. "Hopefully as we get into more scrimmage situations we’ll get [the younger guys] some time and get them comfortable with the speed of the game.”
Chattanooga has one more practice on Wednesday before the squad suits up for its first intrasquad scrimmage this spring on Friday at Finley Stadium.
Michael Murphy covers UTC athletics for Nooga.com. Follow him on Twitter @MichaelNooga.