Sunday, July 19, 2020

2020 Football Preseason Preview: ETSU Bucs


Throughout this preseason, Purple & Gold will preview all of Western Carolina's 2020 football opponents.

For the sixth game of the season, the Cats travel to Johnson City, TN to face the Bucs of East Tennessee State University in the 2020 edition of The Blue Ridge Border Battle.

Four 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 #6 - ETSU Bucs

When: Saturday, October  17 at TBA
Where:  William B. Greene, Jr. Stadium, Johnson City, TN
Radio: Catamount Sports Network
TV / video:  TBA

The Series: This series stretches back to 1932, with the Cats holding a slim 25-23-1 lead. Since the return of football at ETSU, the Cats & Bucs atr tied, 2-2 going into the 2020 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. Coach Speir holds a 2-2 record vs. ETSU.

Games that will be played by the Bucs this season before the WCU contest:  (5 games) ETSU opens the season at home against Div. II Mars Hill, before traveling to Athens, Georgia to meed the Georgia Bulldogs. In the third week of the season, the Bucs return home to face another set of Bulldogs, the dogs from Samford. ETSU hits the road for two away games, first up Austin Peay then to Charleston to face the third set of Bulldogs, this time the ones from the Citadel.

The last game played vs. ETSU:  September 9, 2019 - Rock Solid! Catamounts Outlast ETSU in Overtime, 23-20 - Cullowhee, N.C. – Western Carolina redshirt senior Nate Mullen plowed in from one-yard out in overtime as the Catamounts celebrated claiming the traveling trophy in the “Blue Ridge Border Battle” for the first time with a 23-20 victory over East Tennessee State in Southern Conference action at E.J. Whitmire Stadium / Bob Waters Field. Trailing by three after Tyler Keltner converted a 42-yard field goal in overtime, WCU used two Caleb Ferguson receptions of 13 and six yards, as well as a five-yard rush to move to the one-yard line. Mullen then rushed off the right side for the game-winning touchdown, setting off the wild on-field celebration.

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):  2019 record -  8-4 overall,  5-1 home,  3-3 away,  6-2 SoCon.  The Bucs has conference wins over VMI, Furman, Chattanooga, the Citadel, Western Carolina, and Mercer.

Offensive Formation: Spread Option
-2019 Offense: 20.1 ppg. (101st in FCS)
Defensive Formation: 3-4
2019 Defense: 26.2 ppg. (46th in FCS)
Starters Returning/Lost: 17/5
Offensive Starters Returning/Lost:  9  / 2
Defensive Starters Returning/Lost:  8 / 3
Special Teams Starters Returning/Lost:  3 / 3

-RB Quay Holmes (206 rushes, 1143 yards, 7 TD, 16 rec. 134 yards, 1 TD); -QB Trey Mitchell (148 cmp., 1,616 yards, 11 TD); -RB Jacob Saylors (112 rushes, 653 yards, 4 TD, 16 rec., 150 yards)

-LB Zack Yancey (69 tackles, 5.5 TFL, 5 QB hurries, 1 Forced Fumble); -LB Donovan Manuel (64 tackles, 5.5 TFL, 5 PBU, 2 QB hurries, 1.0 sacks, 1 INT); -LB Colton Lakes (59 tackles, 6.5 TFL, 4 PBU, 2 QB hurries, 0.5 sacks)

2019 ETSU Statistics
Rushing Offense: 2295 yards
Yards per game: 171.8
Yards per rush: 4.9 yards
Rushing 1st downs: 107
TDs rushing: 15
Passing Offense: 1868 yards or 164 yards per game
Avg. per pass: 6.2 yards
Passing 1st downs: 77
TDs passing: 13
Passing Comp-Att-Int: 177-317-7
Total Offense: 4030 yards or 335.87 yards per game
Fumbles-Lost: 15-10
3d Down Conversions: 57 of 158 (36%)
4th Down Conversions: 7 of 14 (50%)
Field goal attempts  14 - 18
PAT-Attempts: 27 of 27
On-side kicks: 0-0
Red Zone Scores: 31 of 37 (84%)
Red Zone Touchdowns: 21 of 37 (57%)
Punts - Yards: 58 - 2248 - Avg per punt: 34

Game prediction: Per the Massey Ratings, the Cats have only a 27% probability of winning (20-28) over the Bucs.