#19 Chattanooga FCS Football 2021 Preview

Chattanooga Mocs
Overall Rank: #19
#2 SoCon
Chattanooga Logo
Everybody had an interesting 2020-2021 season, but Chattanooga experienced even more ups and downs than most. The Mocs played one game in the fall of 2020 and nearly pulled off an impressive upset against Western Kentucky. In the spring they started off strong with wins over Wofford, The Citadel and Furman. Following an upset loss at home to Mercer, the team was not able to play their last three scheduled games. That left Coach Rusty Wright with a 3-2 record, but some good things to build from heading into the 2021 season.
2020-21 Record: 3-2, 3-1
2020-21 Postseason: None
Coach: Rusty Wright (9-8 at Chattanooga, 9-8 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Joe Pizzo
Defensive Coordinator: Lorenzo Ward
Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Tyrell Price, RB, 226 yards
Passing: Drayto Arnold, QB, 783 yards
Receiving: Reginald Henderson, WR, 285 yards
Tackles: Kam Jones, LB, 34  
Sacks: Devonnsha Maxwell, DL, 5.0
Interceptions: 4 tied with 1
Other Key Returnees: RB Gino Appleberry, QB Cole Copeland, WR Jamoi Mayes, WR Andrew Manning, OL McClendon Curtis, OL Cole Strange, LB Ty Boeck, LB Christian Snyder, DB Brandon Dowdell, DB Jerrell Lawson, LB Jay Person
Key Losses: None
Drayton Arnold threw for 783 yards and three touchdowns in the five games last season. His 48.1 percent completion percentage does not sound good, but he did rank third in the FCS in yards per completion. Arnold is looking for the deep ball and he has proven that he can make those throws. Reginald Henderson, Jamoi Mayes, Andrew Manning, Kanore McKinnon and Tyler Walker all averaged over 18 yards per reception. Those deeper passes should open up more space for the ground game, but the Mocs were not all that effective on the ground last season. Tyrell Price and Gino Appleberry should again handle most of the carries and with a very talented offensive line, expect both to have good campaigns in 2021.
The Mocs defense was spectacular through the first four games. In their final game they allowed 35 points against Mercer, but they still ranked first in the FCS in pass defense and sixth in total defense. Devonnsha Maxwell led Chattanooga with 5.0 sacks in the spring, but Chattanooga does need to find some help for him on the other end. Linebacker Jay Person will pick up some of the pass rushing slack. He will be joined by Kam Jones, Ty Boeck and Christian Snyder in a very experienced linebacker corps. The secondary that was so dominate a season ago will be led by All-SoCon honorees Brandon Dowdell and Jerrell Lawson.
The Bottom Line:
With so much of the team returning after a disappointing conclusion to the spring, Chattanooga should be ready to compete for a Southern Conference title. The big game in the conference could come early when the Mocs travel to VMI on October 9th. The winner of that game will be the early favorite to win the conference crown.
Projected Postseason:  FCS Playoffs
2020-21 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 124.4 (61st in nation, 8th in conference)
Passing Offense: 195.8 (52, 3)
Total Offense: 320.2 (64, 6)
Scoring Offense: 21.4 (55, 5)
Rushing Defense: 146,2 (49, 3)
Pass Defense: 99.6 (1, 1)
Total Defense: 245.8 (6, 1)
Scoring Defense: 20.6 (29, 3)
Turnover Margin: 0.60 (24, 2)
Sacks: 2.00 (50, 5)
Sacks Allowed: 2.20 (58, 6)