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SoCon Notebook: Huesman's son new UTC QB

Jacksonville at Georgia Southern
6 p.m., Saturday
Paulson Stadium

SoCon Standings
                            Conf.  All
Appalachian St.    0-0      0-0
Chattanooga         0-0      0-0
The Citadel           0-0      0-0
Elon                     0-0      0-0
Furman                0-0      0-0
Ga. Southern       0-0    0-0
Samford               0-0      0-0
W. Carolina          0-0      0-0
Wofford               0-0      0-0

Thursday's Game
    Mars Hill at Western Carolina,  8 p.m.
Saturday's Games
    Appalachian State at East Carolina, Noon
    Elon at North Carolina, 12:30 p.m.
    Furman at Samford, 4:30 p.m.
    Charleston Southern at The Citadel, 6 p.m.
    Jacksonville at Georgia Southern, 6 p.m.
    Wofford at Gardner-Webb, 6 p.m.
    Chattanooga at South Florida, 7 p.m.

    Georgia Southern fans haven’t forgotten the name Terrell Robinson.
    The Tennessee-Chattanooga quarterback entered the game on Oct. 8, 2011, in the first half when starter B.J. Coleman left with an injury, and the Mocs were trailing the Eagles, 21-7, in Paulson Stadium.
    Robinson came in and orchestrated a comeback, primarily with his legs, but when UTC went for an unsuccessful two-point conversion at the end of the game, the then-No.1 ranked Eagles escaped with a 28-27 win.
    For most, it was going to be a no-brainer that Robinson would be the starting quarterback for the Mocs in 2012, but a redshirt-freshman is battling for a starting job — head coach Russ Huesman’s son, Jacob.
    According to Russ Huesman, Robinson’s in-game experience gives him a slight edge to start when the Mocs (5-6, 3-5 Southern Conference in 2011) open their season at South Florida Saturday at 7 p.m.
    “I’d say Terrell’s got an advantage on (Jacob),” Russ Huesman said, “just because he’s been in college football games.”
    Huesman will have to find the balance between dad and coach. He’ll try to be coach when Jacob runs onto the field for the first time.
    “I’m good right now, leading up to it. I’m guessing right now that he runs out there on the field the first time, I’ll probably have some butterflies just like any normal parent would have when their son’s playing,” Huesman said. “You want your kids to do well, and I’m sure early on I’m going to feel like a parent. I’ve got to get it out of my system pretty quick.”

Changing the culture — again
    There’s another new coach at Western Carolina.
    Former Appalachian State defensive assistant Mark Speir took over the program in December, 2011, after the Catamounts finished 1-10 and 0-8 in the SoCon.
    With WCU once again picked by the coaches and media to finish last in the SoCon in 2012, the Catamounts might only be favored once — when they face Mars Hill Thursday at 8 p.m. — although Speir doesn’t look at it that way.
    “I don’t think there’s the added pressure of being a favorite or an underdog,” said the first-year WCU coach. “I don’t even know if we are a favorite.”
    WCU beat Mars Hill, 52-31, for its only win in 2011.
    “How many games are we going to win this year? I couldn’t tell you,” he added. “I couldn’t tell you when I was coaching at Appalachian State. What I’m going to think of as a success here in year one is if we have opportunities, that we’re in the ballgame and we have opportunities to win ballgames.”
    Speir thinks back to 2007 when he was coaching Appalachian State’s defensive line, and the Mountaineers opened the season with a shocking, 34-32 win over Michigan.
    “Going into the Michigan game, we thought we could go up there and play well,” said Speir. “Coach (Jerry) Moore talked a lot about us being there and having an opportunity game. We were there and we had an opportunity to win a ballgame.”

Sullivan fighting pneumonia
    Samford coach Pat Sullivan is a big question mark when the Bulldogs (6-5, 4-4 SoCon in 2011) open the season in conference against Furman (6-5, 5-3) Saturday at 4:30 p.m., because he’s fighting a bout of pneumonia, the university announced Monday.
    Defensive coordinator Bill D’Ottavio is hopeful Sullivan will be there.
    “Right now I believe so,” D’Ottavio said. “We’ll just have to take it as it comes.”
    Sullivan has remained in contact with the Bulldogs.
    “He sets the plan, and we’ve been in constant contact with him, so as far as preparation we’ve been able to move forward,” D’Ottavio said. “He’s got words for (the team) every day, so it’s not like his message isn’t getting across to them. They’re working very hard and they’re excited about opening the season, and we’re just moving along like we need to, like he told us to.”
NOTES: Georgia Southern (11-3, 7-1 in 2011) opens the season out of conference at home against Jacksonville University Saturday at 6 p.m. … Appalachian State (8-4, 6-2) plays East Carolina Saturday at noon. The game is a rematch of 2009, when ECU defeated the Mountaineers 29-24. … Wofford (8-4, 6-2) travels to Gardner-Webb to open the 2012 season Saturday at 6 p.m. … The Citadel (4-7, 2-6), entering its third season running the triple option, hosts Charleston Southern, Saturday, at 6 p.m. … The  Elon Phoenix (5-6, 3-5) hit the road to face in-state rival North Carolina Saturday at 12:30 p.m.

    Matt Yogus may be reached at (912) 489-9408.