JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (WJHL) — After months of drills, practice and scrimmages, it’s officially game week for the ETSU football squad, and they’re preparing to open up the 2023 season on the road Saturday afternoon.

Even second-year head coach George Quarles admitted that just the last month of summer camp has felt particularly long, and the players are certainly ready to start a new season as well.

The Blue and Gold are looking to put last year’s 3-8 season behind them, and while they have some experienced returnees in key spots, the Bucs will also trot out some young guys, especially on defense.

Game 1 will be a challenge against a new F-B-S squad in Jacksonville State who already picked up their first win of the season on Saturday, and now that it’s finally game week for the Bucs, the guys are locked in at practice.

“Clearly a big challenge, you know, you’re talking about a team that has historically been a great program, whether it’s Division Two, FCS and now moving in the FBS,” Quarles said.

ETSU quarterback Tyler Riddell said the upcoming game is giving the team something concrete to look forward to.

“Feel a little more focused when we have that game coming up. We have something – not like we had nothing in practice or in camp, you know, but now we have an actual opponent to scheme,” said Riddell.

More on Saturday’s matchup with the Gamecocks to come on News Channel 11 throughout the week.