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Preview: The Chattanooga Offense

The Chattanooga Mocs, of the FCS's Southern Conference, come into Saturday's game with an 8-3 record (6-2 in conference). They're currently in first place in their conference.

Kevin C. Cox

In order to give us some perspective, Chattanooga and Alabama have one common opponent in 2013, Georgia State, who Chattanooga beat 42-14. Additionally, Chattanooga plays in the same conference as Western Carolina, the team that Alabama beat 49-0 last year (and could've beaten 80-0 if they had wanted to). Chattanooga beat this year's version of Western Carolina 42-21.

On the season Chattanooga averages 378.4 yards per game (5.6 yards per play). They're firmly a run first offense, as they average 223.3 yards per game on the ground (5 yards per rush) compared to only 155.1 yards per game through the air (7 yards per pass).

Chattanooga's rushing attack is heavily based on read option plays, namely the zone read, veer, and inverted veer. For more on this type of attack, you can read about it HERE, in the offensive preview for Ole Miss from earlier in the season. And for an example of how Alabama may try to defend these sort of plays, specifically the inverted veer, click HERE.

As expected with this type of offense, the focal point is the quarterback, in both the passing and running game, and sophomore Jacob Huesman is having an outstanding season for the Mocs. Huesman isn't likely to beat any defenses down the field with his arm, but he's very accurate in the short and intermediate passing game. On the season he has completed 68.3% of his passes, for an average 148.8 yards per game, and 16 touchdowns to go along with 5 interceptions. Additionally, Huesman has already totaled 1,048 yards on the ground (5.1 yards per carry) and nine touchdowns.

Chattanooga has a stable of running backs to compliment Huesman, namely Keon Williams (5.9 yards per rush and 9 touchdowns), Marquis Green (4.1 yards per rush and 1 touchdown), and Derrick Craine (4.9 yards per rush and 2 touchdowns). They run behind a very athletic offensive line, that is among the best at the FCS level.

Huesman spreads the ball around to all of his receivers, but his top target this year has been Faysal Shafaat. Shafaat has hauled in 33 receptions for 308 yards (9.3 yards per catch), to go along with 6 touchdowns. Other contributors in the passing game are Tommy Hudson (28 receptions for 269 yards), Terrell Robinson (27 receptions for 263 yards), and C.J. Board (21 receptions for 193 yards). Marquis Green is also a receiving threat out of the backfield, and is tied for second on the team in receptions with 28.

Alabama hasn't faced a team that runs a lot of read option plays since Ole Miss, so with the the Auburn game looming the following week (a team that runs a ton of read option plays), it actually works out pretty nicely that they play a team this week with this type of offense. And of course, if Alabama's offense and defense do what is expected of them early in the contest, Saturday should be a good opportunity for the starters to get a bit of rest and the backups to get some much needed reps.