When Chattanooga meets LSU’s Derrius Guice Saturday, the feeling won’t be totally unfamiliar. The Mocs already have faced a back whose recruiting profile was even higher.
Chattanooga coach Tom Arth pointed to the Mocs’ season opener against Jacksonville State as one factor that might help them prepare – at least a little – for Guice on Saturday.
That’s because Jacksonville State hit the Chattanooga defense with a former five-star recruit in Roc Thomas, a transfer from Auburn who was among the top prospects in the nation when he began his college career on the Plains.
“Roc was one of the top players in the country coming out his senior year,” Arth said. “I think he’s certainly a talented player.”
Thomas, from Oxford (Ala.) High, was a five-star prospect in the 2014 signing class and considered one of the top-25 recruits overall in that cycle. Guice, from Baton Rouge Catholic, was a four-star prospect in the 2015 signing class and considered one of the top-50 players overall.
Chattanooga isn’t focusing too heavily on the experience they had against Thomas. That’s a good idea; a 218-pounder, Guice is no clone of the 193-pound Thomas.
“They’re different players, different styles, but both incredibly gifted,” Arth said.
Arth said he’s particularly concerned because of Guice’s track record of piling up big yardage against defenses from the SEC, which the Mocs coach called “the toughest conference in football.”
“His productivity’s incredible. He’s a difficult guy to get to the ground. He breaks a lot of tackles,” Arth said. “So I think it’s an awesome, awesome challenge for us because that’s an area where we are looking to improve.”
Based on the numbers, the Mocs will certainly need to do exactly that.
When they faced Thomas last week, he gashed them for 122 yards and a touchdown, helping send Chattanooga to a 27-13 loss against a FCS opponent. If Guice really gets going Saturday, he could do even more damage.
Still, Arth isn’t losing hope.
“We’re looking to become a better-tackling football team, and I don’t think there’s a better opportunity for us to go out there and do that than this week,” Arth said.
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