The ETSU football team’s spring practice has kicked off after a season of growth and learning pains.

The Bucs will return the majority of their team from last season, which included mostly all freshmen.

There are many questions that the team will need to answer to ensure a better season, starting with the improvement of the offensive line, which for the most part had growing pains because it was such a young group.

“There’s no question offensive line wise, we’re much stronger with a year of experience, also with more depth,” said coach Carl Torbush. “We’ve got some guys from this recruiting class that’ll push these guys, and I feel we will be better.”

Torbush said players like Matt Brewer, Matt Pyke and Patrick McCall have really improved as football players.

The quarterback battle will be intense in the coming weeks. For now, Torbush wants to give the younger guys, whether freshman or redshirt last season, a chance to show what they can do.

Freshman quarterback Dylan Wieger has done a good job of showing his skill so far in spring practice.

With the defensive line looking so well last season, the secondary was a big issue when the opposing team’s quarterback was able to avoid the pressure.

“I think our defensive line was very good, especially with a group of true freshman,” Torbush said. “Also, we redshirted a lot of guys, and if we’re able to keep them healthy we should be very good on the defensive line. As far as secondary, we’ve got a lot of those guys back, and we have got to do a much better job defending the deep ball… I feel we’ll be much better in that area.”

Coming into his second season, Dylan Weigel is poised for a breakout season after leading the Bucs with 127 tackles, which was ninth most in the FCS, and 10.5 tackles for loss.

“For me, I’ve just been getting bigger and stronger, as well as understanding receivers’ routes more,” Weigel said. “Just being able to get a understanding of the system [and] really knowing where my help is going to be has been my main focus for this camp.”

The identity of this team will be one of the biggest things it will have to improve on this spring.

“We want to be a disciplined team,” Torbush said. “I think we were one of the least penalized teams in the country, which talks highly of our coaches and players.”

This year, Torbush feels the receivers will be solid. With an improved offensive line, the offense should be poised for a good season by being able to convert on third down.

“The goal for this season is we want to be competitive in the SoCon,” Torbush said. “Obviously we’ve got to be a lot better than we were last season and we should have been last year.”