JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (WJHL) – A new week for the ETSU Buccaneers opened with elevated energy on Monday, as the Blue and Gold begin preparations for rival Chattanooga with a SoCon victory already in hand.
“I hope our guys gain some confidence from Saturday’s win,” head coach George Quarles said. “You know, both sides of the ball and really special teams, as well.”
All three phases made significant contributions in a 41-10 blowout of Wofford on Saturday. The defense put up its best numbers of the season, holding the Terriers to just 177 yards of offense.
“You know, I thought we played well against Mercer and I thought we played really well against Wofford,” redshirt-junior defensive lineman Max Evans said. “Having that momentum to carry you into a big week, especially a rivalry week like Chatt, is huge.”
The ETSU running back room carried the day, once again, pounding the rock for 236 yards rushing and accounting for three touchdowns.
“It’s been ‘how can we be the position group that gets us through this,'” redshirt-junior running back Zach Borisch explained. “Whatever we can do to help the team impact winning is extremely important.”
The sixth-annual Rail Rivalry trophy battle with No. 20 Chattanooga will be a difficult road test this weekend, as it will be strength-on-strength when the Bucs keep it on the ground.
“They dominated Mercer Saturday,” Quarles shared. “No rush yards – you don’t see that very often.”
After a standout performance this past weekend, redshirt-freshman quarterback William Riddle is expected to get his first start of the season in his hometown on Saturday.
“I think for William it will be a big homecoming for him,” Quarles said. “I know he’ll be excited to play.”
The McCallie School graduate helped win three state championships in his high school career in the Scenic City. But, no matter the venue, Riddle’s coaches and teammates believe he has the demeanor to succeed going forward.
“Not even this game, but the game before where he walked in, he just knew what to do,” Borisch said of Riddle’s stint against Mercer two weeks ago. “You don’t see that a lot. A lot of times people get kind of flustered, you know, when you have adversity hit you in the face. It’s kind of how you react – and his reaction is just what you want when you’re playing quarterback.”
“I thought he anticipated very well,” Quarles added. “I think quarterback is so much about anticipating what’s going to happen.”
“Our guys have good, solid arms, but they don’t have that elite power,” he continued. “So, I just think we have to anticipate well and I thought William did a phenomenal job of that.”
Starting quarterback Tyler Riddell continues to rehab a knee injury, according to Quarles, and has a chance to return to the field this season.
“Maybe the last game or so – maybe the last two games,” Quarles said. “Somewhere in that neighborhood.”
The Blue and Gold’s last two games of the season would be at Western Carolina (Nov. 11) and at home against The Citadel (Nov. 18).
Kickoff against the Mocs this Saturday is slated for 1 p.m.