JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (WJHL) – The Buccaneers’ 2023 spring football slate culminated with the annual Ballad Health Blue-Gold Spring Game on Saturday afternoon.
The program, under direction of second-year head coach George Quarles, broke down into individual drills at William B. Greene Jr. Stadium, before playing a situational scrimmage for the fans.
Returning quarterback, Tyler Riddell, opened up with perfect execution of read option. He took the very first play from scrimmage 70 yards for a rushing touchdown.
“I went home and thought about, last night, what I wanted first and that was the play I wanted,” Riddell said afterwards. “Before I could come up to [Coach Partrick], he came up to me and told me he was thinking about that play first.”
It was the defensive secondary, however, that took control over the new few drives. Freshman Jayvon Henderson jumped in front of a quick Riddell toss for an interception. Minutes later, Gabe Wescott intercepted Baron May’s downfield delivery for a second pick of the day.
“We got some turnovers today, just shows us that we’re getting to that point,” linebacker Stephen Scott said. “We’re getting things – coming along as a defense. DBs looked pretty good today as far as takeaways – picks and things like that.”
With the wind whipping throughout the stadium, the Bucs were limited to just 73 yards through the air. They did manage, however, 234 rushing yards on the afternoon.
“I thought we missed some open guys that we had,” Quarles said. “I thought we ran the ball OK – broke a few tackles. On the flip side of that, maybe didn’t tackle quite as well as we needed to.”
“I felt pretty good – there’s always things you can do better,” Riddell said. “But, for the most part I felt good – not just for me, I felt good as an offense. We just improved a lot since last scrimmage, so that felt good.”
Einaj Carter scored the offense’s second touchdown on an 18-yard jet sweep carry, but it was Adrian Johnson that led the ground game. He had six carries for 46 yards and a two-yard touchdown.
Tight end Tim Stayskal added the fourth and final touchdown of the day on another two-yard scamper.
In addition to the interceptions, the defense tallied 49 tackles and two sacks – one from Scott and the other from Paxton Corkery.
After the game Quarles believes there’s still room for improvement in all areas of the squad.
“It’s really everything,” he said. “Obviously we have some depth issues in some spots – O-Line – we’re really thin there. We need to find a few guys – we’ve got a few coming in from the portal … secondary we’re a little bit thin, as well.”
“I think it’s depth, it’s figuring out the offense and learning everything we’re trying to do.”
The next time ETSU returns to William B. Greene Jr. Stadium with fans in the stands, the game will count towards the 2023 season. The Bucs’ first home game this fall is slated for September 9 against Carson-Newman University.