On Sept. 2 at 7 p.m., ETSU will open the season with a home game at the newly constructed William B. Greene Jr. Stadium.
Last week the team finally got to see their new home by practicing on the field to get accustomed to the new environment.
“There was a tremendous amount of pride when the players entered the stadium; it is beautiful,” Head Coach Carl Torbush said. “Two years ago we did not have a practice field or weight room; now we do,” Torbush said when addressing the team. He said he feels now the team has all it needs to compete for a conference championship and ultimately a national championship.
On the offensive side, the Bucs return a majority of their starters from a season ago. Austin Herink (Cleveland, Tennessee) will start the season as quarterback. Torbush said he feels Herink has made a great improvement and had a really good spring off-season. Nick Sexton (Seymour, Tennessee) will be the backup quarterback. He also has a lot of experience by starting a handful of games.
Herink will have many weapons on the outside, with speedy Vincent Lowe (Chesapeake, Virginia) and a strong possession receiver in Drake Powell (Clinton, Tennessee) lining up. Now with two full spring and fall camps, the Bucs’ offense holds high expectations with a number of players returning.
“We have the maturity to compete,” Torbush said. “Every game we will have to battle and that’s how college football should be. We have a tough schedule.”
Last season when the Bucs had their success, their secondary was solid, forcing three and outs to give the offense chances to score with good field position. “We have eight to nine guys with a year or more starting experience. If injury free, we should improve,” Torbush said.
The position where he has seen the most improvement is, with no hesitation, said to be offensive line. “On the offensive line we are bigger and stronger,” he said. “We can run the ball when we want instead of relying on passing.”
On special teams, preseason All-Conference junior JJ Jerman (Seymour, Tennessee) will be an impact player, making big kicks to win games a season ago.
“Dustin Nickle (Knoxville, Tennessee) has been our most improved player on special teams. He made a big improvement from a season ago,” Torbush said. “Domenique Williams (defensive back, Charlotte, North Carolina) and Vincent Lowe (wide receiver, Chesapeake, Virginia) can hopefully put us in good field position.”
Coming off an improved 5-6 record, the Bucs look to continue their two-game win streak from last season as they take on Limestone.