#16 Chattanooga FCS Football 2019 Preview

Chattanooga Mocs
Overall Rank: #16
#2 SoCon
 Chattanooga Logo
Chattanooga will once again have to break in a new coach. Tom Arth moved to Akron and Rusty Wright will take over the program. Chattanooga has missed the playoffs the last two seasons, but there were a lot of close losses last year. With a bevy of experience returning, those close losses could turn into wins this year and that will put this team into the playoffs.
2018 Record: 6-5, 4-4
2018 Postseason: None
Coach: Rusty Wright (0-0 at Chattanooga, 0-0 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Joe Pizzo
Defensive Coordinator: Lorenzo Ward
Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Tyrell Price, RB, 697 yards
Passing: Nick Tiano, QB, 2,710 yards
Receiving: Bryce Nunnelly, WR, 1,237 yards
Tackles: Marshall Cooper, LB, 98
Sacks: Devonnsha Maxwell, DL, 5.5
Interceptions: Brandon Dowdell, DB, 3
Other Key Returnees: OL Noah Ramsey, OL Cole Strange, DB Jerrell Lawson, DL Khayyan Edwards
Key Losses: WR Wil Young, WR Joseph Parker, DB Kareem Orr, DL Isaiah Mack, DL Derek Mahaffey
The Mocs ranked ninth in the Southern Conference in total offense and scoring offense and there is plenty of room for improvement. Nick Tiano is a solid passer and an experienced signal caller. Last year he threw for 2,710 yards and 15 touchdowns while completing 61.6 percent of his attempts. Bryce Nunnelly is an All-American caliber wide receiver who caught 79 passes for 1,237 yards and seven touchdowns. The offensive line returns all five starters and that should help bolster a rushing attack that was not very consistent or productive last season. Tyrell Price rushed for 697 yards and nine touchdowns last year, but averaged just 3.7 yards per attempt. That number must improve if Chattanooga is going to have a balanced and dangerous offense.
The defense was very impressive in 2018, allowing just 21.0 points per game. Five starters are gone, but there is more than enough experience back, and some coming in, to replicate last year’s success. Devonnsha Maxwell will anchor the line after tallying 5.5 sacks as a freshman, but Isaiah Mack and Derek Mahaffey need to be replaced. Marshall Cooper led the team with 98 tackles and he will again be the top linebacker. Khayyan Edwards and C.J. Winston have some starting experience as well. The secondary returns the most experience. Brandon Dowdell picked off three passes and will be joined by fellow junior safety Jerrell Lawson. There are not too many defensive holes that need to be filled, but Coach Wright has brought in some talented Division I transfers, especially at linebacker and on the defensive line.
The Bottom Line:
Chattanooga has an extremely difficult schedule though so making the playoffs is certainly not going to be easy. After a home opener against Eastern Illinois, the Mocs play Jacksonville State, Tennessee and James Madison over the next three weeks. That is a brutal stretch of games and, of course, the Southern Conference is tough too, highlighted by a road game at Wofford on October 26th.
Projected Postseason: FCS Playoffs
2018 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 98.4 (112th in nation, 8th in conference)
Passing Offense: 246.5 (36, 4)
Total Offense: 344.9 (91, 9)
Scoring Offense: 21.5 (98, 9)
Rushing Defense: 161.2 (49, 5)
Pass Defense: 201.5 (42, 2)
Total Defense: 362.7 (43, 3)
Scoring Defense: 21.0 (14, 2)
Turnover Margin: 0.55 (21, 1)
Sacks: 2.73 (26, 2)
Sacks Allowed: 1.55 (33, 3)
HERO Sports 2019 Recruit Rankings:
#154 Brock Bethea
#185 Kameron Brown