This upcoming season, the ETSU football team will be under head coach Randy Sanders. Sanders is known for his offensive coordinator experience at Florida State and coaching Heisman quarterback Jameis Winston. The SoCon media currently has the Bucs to finish eighth in the conference and Samford winning the conference.
The Bucs schedule will not be light as just week two they face off against the University of Tennessee at Neyland Stadium Sept. 8. Before that matchup, the Bucs open the season up against Mars Hill at home Sept. 1.
Now senior Austin Herink (Cleveland, Tennessee) or junior transfer Logan Marchi (Bristol, Connecticut) will likely lead the Bucs’ offense this season. As of now, the Bucs do not have a clear decision who will be the starter at quarterback, but both have impressed this offseason. It’s an offense that will be different from years past. This year’s offense is expected to focus on offensive matchups and look to take more throws down the field.
“We still have a lot of learning to do,” said Coach Sanders. “We look like we are still learning a new offense, and that’s exactly where we are.”
The offense returns many receivers from last season with game experience. A key component to the Bucs’ offense is the length they have at receiver coming into the season.
A key playmaker the Bucs have returning is preseason second-team All-SoCon Quan Harrison (Greeneville, Tennessee) who took over the kick return and punt return duties a season ago.
The biggest question marks coming into this season will be if the Bucs can finally establish a reliable running game when the offense is struggling and offensive line, which struggled to open up holes a season ago. Preseason second-team All-SoCon Offensive tackle Matt Pyke (Clinton Tennessee) will lead the Bucs offensive line group.
“We still have to be more consistent in the run game,” said Sanders. “There has been an improvement, but there are a lot of things we can do better.”
Defensively, the Bucs return many key players with preseason first-team Nasir Player (Columbia, South Carolina) and preseason second team Dylan Weigel (Pickerington, Ohio) leading the way. Both combined for 18 tackles for loss a season ago. The defense showed it could hang in the SoCon last season.
The Bucs will be in good shape in tight games as preseason second-team All-SoCon JJ Jerman (Seymour, Tennessee) returns after another successful year kicking last season.
“If we keep working and putting in the time, I feel we will be ready come Sept. 1,” said Sanders.