John Frierson (Twitter) has been the UTC beat writer for the Chattanooga Times Free Press for the past four years. Before that he covered Auburn and Alabama for the Florence Times Daily. Frierson is an Athens, Ga. native who went to Ole Miss, and will refer to them as the Black Bears from here on out.
1. What’s the first thing Chattanooga fans think of when they think of Auburn football?
My guess would be Cam Newton for the under-30 set or Bo Jackson. You kind of hope it’s Bo Jackson.
2. Aside from stopping Cam, what are the Mocs’ major concerns for this game?
If Auburn does it, UTC is concerned. I know the defense is worried about Michael Dyer and the offense is worried about keeping Nick Fairley off the quarterback.
The bottom line for both teams is to get through the game, which is all but meaningless, except for a much-needed check for UTC, without anyone getting hurt.
3. On that note, what is a Moc? Is it short for Moccasins? Are they really the Chattanooga Leather Shoes?
There’s a long answer to the question, but the short one is that UTC used to be the Moccasins. Wikipedia has the full story.
You’ll see Scrappy, the mockingbird mascot, driving a train in some of UTC’s logos, which adds to the confusion. The mockingbird is the state bird of Tennessee and the train ties into Chattanooga’s long history as a major rail hub.
4. Who are two players the Tigers should look out for and why?
Quarterback B.J. Coleman was a four-star recruit out of McCallie who spent two years at Tennessee. If he’d have stayed in Knoxville he’d probably be the Vols’ starter right now.
Coleman is fifth in the FCS with 282.1 passing yards a game and his favorite target is Joel Bradford, his teammate at McCallie. Bradford, who played safety last season and didn’t have a reception the year before, leads the FCS with 128.4 receiving yards a game.
5. Where do you expect these two teams to struggle/excel against each other?
Auburn will likely excel in everything it does and struggle at nothing, while UTC has a decent shot at some success throwing the ball. If Coleman has a little time to throw, he’ll complete some passes.
6. What do you think is the best-case scenario for the Mocs this Saturday?
The Mocs have two critical Southern Conference games looming, games they have to win to have a shot at the playoffs, so priority No. 1 is getting through the game without any injuries. Beyond that, they’d like to be competitive for a half or so and see what happens.
7. Where do you see Chattanooga ending up this season?
The Mocs need to finish 7-4, 6-2 in the SoCon, to have a good shot at an at-large bid. They should beat Pat Sullivan’s Samford squad next week and then go on the road to face No. 7 Wofford. The Mocs haven’t been to the playoffs since 1984, but I think they make it.
8. Where do you see the Tigers ending up this season?
Auburn will cruise Saturday, probably win a high-scoring affair against Georgia and then, sadly for Tigers fans, come up short against those hated folks in crimson. I don’t want the season finale to go that way, but I think it will.
9. What is your prediction/analysis for the game?
Newton will have about 150 yards running and throwing by halftime, the Tigers will have a comfortable lead at that point, and the teams will play backups for much of the second half. The final score will be around 49-10.
10. And lastly, how is the Chattanooga Choo-Choo?
I actually live about 30 yards from it, but I’ve never spent any time there. It’s a hotel now, tied to a Holiday Inn, and I’ve heard it can be fun to stay there. Well, fun for the kids, at least.