Game Preview: VMI, Chattanooga look to get back on track on Saturday

VMI knew the 2017 football season was going to be a rebuilding year. Chattanooga, coming off a playoff appearance in 2016, had its usual high expectations.

vmi footballAnd yet both teams head into Saturday’s clash in Lexington (1:30 p.m., broadcast on ESPN3, with Wade Branner and Chris Graham leading the broadcast) with matching 0-3 records.

For Chattanooga, their struggles have had a bit to do with strength of schedule, with losses to Jacksonville State and LSU, but last week’s 21-7 loss at home to Tennessee-Martin was a bit of a shocker.

The Mocs fell behind 21-0 and never really got going.

“We were 1-for-12 on third down. We put ourselves in some really tough third-down situations. When we were in third and manageable situations, we failed to convert short yardage. We have to do a better job, players and coaches alike,” coach Tom Arth said after the loss to UT-Martin.

Chattanooga had entered last week’s game still ranked 15th in the national polls even with an 0-2 record coming in.

Now at 0-3, you would think the Mocs would need to win out to have a shot at a return trip to the playoffs.

The Chattanooga offense has been particularly troublesome, gaining just 228.7 yards per game and committing seven turnovers. QB Nick Tiano has been intercepted five times, and is completing just 50 percent of his passes.

The ground game has maybe been worse, gaining just 50 yards a game, and 2.0 yards per attempt.

VMI, on its side, is coming off a dispiriting 23-0 loss at Robert Morris last week, with the Keydets only able to generate 182 yards on offense, including just three total yards in the fourth quarter.

On the season, VMI is gaining just 218.7 yards per game on offense. Starting QB Austin Coulling has completed just 48.4 percent of his passes and has yet to throw a TD pass this season.

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