Tuesday, November 5, 2019

Game #10 - ETSU Bucs

For the tenth game of the season, the Cats host the Buccaneers of East Tennessee State University in the 2019 edition of The Blue Ridge Border Battle. Three seasons ago, Western and the Bucs revived the series that started back in 1932, but abruptly ended in 2003 when the Bucs eliminated football.

Game #10 - ETSU Bucs

When: Saturday, November 9 at 3:30 pm
Where:  E.J. Whitmire Stadium / Bob Waters Field, Cullowhee, NC
Radio: Catamount Sports Network
-Radio Announcers: Gary Ayers (PBP), Daniel Hooker (analyst), Greg McLamb (sideline)
TV / video:  Nexstar / ESPN+
-TV/video: Nexstar / ESPN+
-TV Announcers: Pete Yanity (PBP); Jared Singleton (analyst)
-WYCW (Greenville/Spartanburg/Asheville)
-WCBD (Charleston)
-WWCW (Lynchburg)
-WJHL (Johnson City)
-WMUB (Macon)
Live StatsWCU live stats
Game Notes:   WCU               -                  ETSU
ETSU Message Board:  Buccaneer Nation

The Series: This series stretches back to 1932, with the Cats holding a slim 24-23-1 lead. Since the return of football at ETSU, the Bucs hold a 2-1 lead going into the 2019 contest. Adding to the newfound rivalry between the two mountain teams, the Bucs pulled off a 2 point, 3 overtime win, 43-45 in the initial Blue Ridge Border Battle trophy contest held in Johnson City in 2018.

The last game played vs. ETSU:  October 27, 2018 - Johnson City, Tenn. –  Catamounts Drop Heartbreaker at ETSU, 43-45 in 3 OT.   Redshirt junior QB Tyrie Adams became Western Carolina’s all-time touchdown pass leader on Saturday, tossing four TD passes in accounting for five total scores as the Catamounts’ upset bid against No. 25 ETSU came up two-points short, falling 45-43 in triple overtime on a rainy afternoon at William B. Greene, Jr. Stadium. Needing a two-point conversion following Owen Cosenke’s second receiving score of the game, Adams was pressured off the right side on the ensuing required two-point attempt. ETSU’s Austin Gatewood chased Adams out of the pocket to the right where his contested pass attempt to Daquan Patten short-hopped at the goal line, setting off a wild celebration for the Bucs who took possession of the trophy in the inaugural “Blue Ridge Border Battle.”

Head Coach: Randy Sanders - Sanders was named ETSU football head coach on Dec. 17, 2017, becoming the 18th head coach in program history. Sanders, a Morristown, Tenn. native, has spent the last 29 years coaching on the Football Bowl Subdivision level, which includes stints as offensive coordinator at Tennessee, Kentucky and most recently Florida State. Sanders was the offensive coordinator when Tennessee won the 1998 BCS National Title and the quarterbacks coach at Florida State when the Seminoles claimed the 2013 National Championship. Sanders played a part in either coaching or recruiting a pair of No. 1 overall picks in the NFL Draft – Peyton Manning (1998) and Jameis Winston (2015). In his 29 years of coaching, Sanders has coached in 26 bowl games and his teams hold a combined record of 258-105-2.

Last Season's Record (ETSU):  2018 record:  8-4 overall,  5-1 home,  3-3 away,  6-2 SoCon.

This Season's Record (ETSU): 2019 record:  2-7 overall,  2-3 home,  0-4 away,  0-6 SoCon

Offensive Formation: Spread Option
-2018 Offense: 26.0 ppg. (75th in FCS)
Defensive Formation: 3-4
-2018 Defense: 26.4 ppg. (49th in FCS)
Lettermen Returning/Lost: 27/ 24
Starters Returning/Lost: 14/15
Offensive Starters Returning/Lost:  4 / 7
Defensive Starters Returning/Lost:  8 / 3
Special Teams Starters Returning/Lost:  2 / 5

The 2018 defending co-champion Bucs were selected to finish third in both the SoCon coaches and media polls for the first time since rejoining the conference in 2016. ETSU placed seven players on the preseason All-SoCon teams, led by Nasir Player who was tabbed as the SoCon Preseason Defensive Player of the Year in addition to being named to the first team. Joining Player on the first team was redshirt-sophomore running back Quay Holmes, redshirt-senior defensive lineman Jason Maduafokwa and junior defensive back Tyree Robinson. Tre’mond Shorts, Ben Blackmon, and Jeremy Lewis were each named to the second team.

Most of the line and key playmakers returned on the defensive side of the ball, and the secondary is clearly one of the best in the SoCon. All four starters from last year's playoff game with Jacksonville State were underclassmen and there is depth beyond even that with players like rising senior Artevius Smith.

This has been a disappointing season for the Buccaneers, who had expectations of repeating SoCon championships, but until now, is winless in the SoCon this season (0-6). Like WCU, ETSU as only two wins, one against a non-DI opponent (Shorter) and one DI win (Austin Peay). The Bucs have been competitive in all their conference games, having dropped the last three by a total of 14 points. The Bucs are a very dangerous team and will come to Cullowhee with expectations of continuing the win streak over the Catamounts.

2019 ETSU Statistics  (9 games):
Rushing Offense1439 yards
Yards per game159.9
Yards per rush: 4.8 yards
Rushing 1st downs: 76
TDs rushing: 9
Passing Offense1695 yards or 188.3 yards per game
Avg. per pass: 6.4 yards
Passing 1st downs: 67
Passing Comp-Att-Int151-263-6 
TDs Passing: 12
Total Offense3134 yards or 348.2  yards per game
Fumbles-Lost: 11-7
3d Down Conversions41/116 (35%)
4th Down Conversions4/10  (40%)
Field goal attempts: 11-13
PAT-Attempts: 20 of 20
On-side kicks: 0-0
Red Zone Scores23-26 (88%)
Red Zone Touchdowns15-26 (58%)
Punts - Yards44-1693 - Avg per punt: 38.5 

Game prediction: Per the Massey Ratings, the Cats have only a 23% probability of winning (17-27) over the Bucs. Last week, the Massey Rating had an even lower prediction for WCU probability of winning, so, once again, I'm going against Massey's projection and predict a Catamount victory in Cullowhee on Saturday, 35-28 to keep the Bucs winless in conference play.


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