The Mocs have a new head coach for the 2017 season, Tom Arth, formally of DIII John Carroll (Full Bio). Coach Arth is a former quarterback so the biggest changes are likely to be on the offensive side where the Mocs are expected to run a more “pro-style” system as opposed to the spread attack of last several years. A cursory glance at John Carroll’s stats from 2016 indicate a very balanced attack, rushing and passing for over 2500 yards each averaging 32.9 points per game.
The Mocs are still a very talented team returning QB Alejandro Bennifield and a very talented group of backs and receivers. Workhorse back Derrick Craine is gone, as are the two leading receivers from 2016, but Richardre Bagley, Alphonso Stewart, and James Stovall have all played quality minutes. Both tackles are back as well, and project as all-SoCon performers, but the Mocs have new starters at the interior line positions. The line coming together and installing the new offense will dictate how good the Mocs can be on offense.
Defensively, Chattanooga has arguably the best secondary in the conference including all-SoCon performers Lucas Webb and Trevor Wright. That secondary along with perennial talent up front have allowed the Mocs to be very aggressive in the past few years, including 38 sacks and 8 interceptions a year ago. The defense will be a true 4-3 bolstered by all-Southern Conference LB senior Dale Warren in the middle. While there are a number of new starters particularly in the front seven, most have played a good bit in reserve roles. The Mocs should once again be formidable on defense in 2017.
It’s always an unknown when you have a staff turnover, but the new staff inherited a talented team. The offense will be interesting, especially opening against an athletic Jacksonville State squad in Montgomery followed by LSU. Defensively, this is a talented group that should be very successful in 2017. I’m projecting Chattanooga as a top 3 SoCon team competing for the title and making the playoffs, likely visiting a CAA or MVC opponent on the first weekend.