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2019 Tennessee Football Opponent Preview: Chattanooga

One last tune up before SEC play.

Chattanooga v LSU Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images

Chattanooga Mocs

Head Coach: Rusty Wright (1-1 overall)

Conference: Southern (FCS)

2018 record: 6-5

Series record: Tennessee leads, 38-1-2

Chattanooga first year head coach Rusty Wright will be getting his first taste of going up against an FBS opponent when the Mocs travel to Neyland Stadium.

The match up will also mark the first time since 2014 that the two programs have met, with Tennessee winning that meeting, 45-10.

Going up against SEC foes is nothing new for the Mocs. Since their last contest versus the Vols, Chattanooga has faced Alabama (2016), LSU (2017) and most recently, South Carolina in 2018.

While they haven’t gone the way of former FCS programs such as Georgia Southern in 2013 (vs Florida) and Appalachian State in 2007 (vs Michigan) in getting that marquee win against a Power Five team, the Mocs have proven to be a formidable opponent before.

Here’s a closer look of what to expect to see when Chattanooga comes to Knoxville:

Coaching: After winning just three games in 2017, head coach Tom Arth lead Chattanooga to a 6-5 finish, but the turnaround caught the attention of the FBS and Arth left for Akron following the season, placing Georgia State linebackers coach Rusty Wright back at his Alma Mater.

Offense: In 2018, Chattanooga averaged just over 21 points per game, an improvement from the the 17 they scored in a 3-win campaign the season before. They’ll return some of that production at key positions heading into 2019.

NCAA Football: Chattanooga at South Carolina Jeff Blake-USA TODAY Sports

Under center, the Mocs return experience in senior quarterback Nick Tiano who passed for over 2100 yards in 2018 along with 15 touchdowns. Out wide, Tiano will be passing to arguably the team’s top returning weapon, senior wide receiver Bryce Nunnelly, who caught 7 of Tiano’s 15 touchdown passes last season while tallying 1,237 receiving yards.

In the backfield, the Mocs’ rushing attack is lead by senior running back Tyrell Price, who was second-team All-Southern Conference last season. In 2018, Price lead the team in rushing with nearly 700 yards on the ground and nine scores. Price added another 300 yards receiving out of the backfield.

Defense: On the other side of the ball, Chattanooga’s defense is anchored by senior linebacker Marshall Cooper. Last season, Cooper lead the team in tackles with 98, and landed on the Southern Conference All-Second Team.

NCAA Football: Chattanooga at South Carolina Jeff Blake-USA TODAY Sports

In front of Cooper, along the defensive front, the Vols’ young offensive line will be forced to deal with tackle Devonnsha Maxwell, who is coming off an impressive freshman season in which he recorded 32 tackles and 6.5 tackles for loss.

The Mocs’ secondary also returns experience in junior defensive backs Brandon Dowdell and Jerrell Lawson. In 2018, Dowdell three interceptions and 40 tackles while tallied 53 tackles, 4.5 of which were for loss.