CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (AP) — Chattanooga won a share of its first Southern Conference title since 1984 last year, yet the Mocs still have some unfinished business.
The Mocs finished 8-4 and posted their highest win total since 1980, but they fell just short of earning their first NCAA Football Championship Subdivision playoff berth since 1984. Chattanooga will try to reach that goal this fall.
Chattanooga may have the pieces in place to reach the playoffs. The Mocs return the 2013 Southern Conference offensive player of the year in quarterback Jacob Huesman and the league's reigning defensive player of the year in end Davis Tull. In their preseason poll, Southern Conference coaches picked Huesman and Tull to win those honors again and also named Chattanooga as the league favorite.
Huesman is the son of Mocs coach Russ Huesman, who was named Southern Conference coach of the year for the second time last season.
Here are five things to watch regarding Chattanooga football this season.
VERSATILE HUESMAN: Chattanooga is helped by Huesman's ability to make an impact with his arm and legs. Huesman threw for 1,637 yards and 16 touchdowns with only five interceptions last season. He also rushed for 894 yards and nine touchdowns while averaging 5.1 yards per carry.
RECORD-SETTING TULL: As he prepares to begin his senior season, Tull already is Chattanooga's all-time leader in career sacks. He's a two-time Southern Conference defensive player of the year with the most career sacks (26 ½) and forced fumbles (eight) of any active FCS player.
BUILDING TRADITION: Chattanooga has posted a winning record in four of its last five seasons. This marks the first time the Mocs have gone over .500 four times in a five-year stretch since 1983-87.
DISCIPLINED MOCS: Chattanooga had only 32.8 penalty yards per game last season, the fourth-lowest average among all FCS teams.
YOUTH ON DEFENSE: Chattanooga led the Southern Conference in total defense and scoring defense last year, but the Mocs will be relying on plenty of newcomers on that side of the ball this year. Chattanooga has no returning starters at linebacker. Sophomore cornerback Dee Virgin is the lone returning starter in the secondary.