Win number one is in the books.
Now the ETSU football team is ready to take on Southern Conference opponent number one, the Western Carolina University Catamounts.
What makes this game more special than most is that both teams will be playing inside Bristol Motor Speedway. The Speedway was refurbished last week to set the stage for the game between the University of Tennessee and Virginia Tech.
“It’s going to be different, but I think that our team will handle it just fine,” said junior wide receiver Dalton Ponchillia (Nashville, Tenn.). “We’ve played in a lot of different venues, nothing as extreme as this, but I think we will handle it fine and focus on the game.”
The Bucs are coming off of a bye week unlike their opponent, WCU, which is coming from a 44-14 win over Gardner-Webb on Sept. 10.
Western Carolina totaled 690 yards on offense, led by Redshirt freshman quarterback Tyrie Adams (St. Petersburg, Fla.). Adams set a school-record of 510 yards of total offense, a career-best 427 yards passing and a career-high 83 yards rushing.
“The thing that scares you is that he’s a seven-foot high-jumper in Track & Field,” said Head Coach Carl Torbush. “Obviously he has a lot of athletic ability other than in football. He threw the ball extremely well especially for his first game. You’d think he’d be a little more nervous than he was, but he was very poised and did a good job.”
In addition to the offense, the Catamounts come with a strong defense as well. In the game against Gardner-Webb, the Catamounts defense left their opponent scoreless for the second half of the game.
“It’s really important to have our offense get first downs and stay on the field,” said senior defensive back Ryan Powers (Jupiter, Fla.). “In a physical game you want the defense on the field as little as possible to keep fresh. It’s big to have an offense to move the chains and eat the time of possession.”
The Bucs know what they need to do entering the game, and they know the offense will have to come in focused against the Western Carolina defense.
“It’s going to be a great challenge for us,” Torbush said. “We’re excited about it obviously. This is our first game back in the Southern Conference. I think it will be a great measuring stick… to see where we are as a football program going into the SoCon and what we need to do to get better.”