Thursday, August 5, 2021

2021 Football Preseason Preview: ETSU Bucs


Throughout this preseason, Purple & Gold will preview all of Western Carolina's 2021 football opponents.

For the tenth game of the season, the Bucs travel to Cullowhee to face the Catamounts in the 2021 edition of The Blue Ridge Border Battle.

Five 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 13
Time:  2:00 pm (EST) 
Where: EJ Whitmire Stadium, Cullowhee, NC
Radio: Catamount Sports Network
TV/video:  ESPN+
Live Stats:  WCU Live Stats
Fan Message Board: Buccaneer Nation

The Series: This series stretches back to 1932, with the Cats holding a slim 25-24-1 lead. Since the return of football at ETSU, the Cats & Bucs are 2-3 going into the 2021 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 Cats are 13-10 in games played in Cullowhee overall. 

Games that will be played by the Bucs this season before the WCU contest: (9 games) The Bucs open their season at Vanderbilt, before returning home to face Division II's UVA-Wise and Deleware State in Johnson City. The Bucs open their conference schedule at Samford.  Then it's back home for two games, Wofford and the Citadel, then on to two road games at  Chattanooga and Furman.  The Buck return home to face VMI before their trip to Cullowhee.  

The last game played vs. ETSU:  March 27, 2021 - Catamount Football Falls at ETSU in Blue Ridge Border Battle - Johnson City, Tenn. – Using a strong opening drive and converting a special team's takeaway into points, Western Carolina jumped out to a 10-point, 17-7 first-quarter lead in the annual gridiron grudge match at ETSU. However, the Buccaneers used a smothering defensive effort in the second half and an efficient, physical run attack to ground out a 24-17 victory over the Catamounts in the third-annual Blue Ridge Border Battle at Greene Stadium.

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).

Randy Sander's record vs. WCU:  2 - 1
Kerwin Bell's record vs. ETSU:  0 - 0

Last Season's Record (ETSU):  2020-21 spring record -  4-2 overall,  2-1 home,  2-1 away,  4-2 SoCon.  The Bucs had conference wins over Samford, The Citadel, WCU, and VMI.

Offensive Formation: Spread Option
Defensive Formation: 3-4

The Bucs concluded the spring season ranked No. 21 in the STATS Perform FCS Top 25 poll. Then, following the spring season, ETSU captured 15 All-SoCon Coaches Awards (12 players) and seven All-SoCon media honors (six players). In addition to the all-conference honors, Jared Folks and Tre’mond Shorts earned individual accolades with Folks capturing the SoCon Defensive Player of the Year and Shorts garnering the Jacobs Blocking Award. Shorts was named to the Coaches and Media First Team, while Folks earned a spot on the Coaches First Team and Media Second Team. Joining them are Quay Holmes and Tyree Robinson  

For the fall preseason, the Bucs are ranked #23 nationally and were picked to finish third in the SoCon media poll and fourth in the coaches poll. The Bucs earned 10 preseason All-SoCon accolades, first-team honorees for the Bucs are Nate Adkins, Jared Folks, Quay Holmes, Tyler Keltner, Tyree Robinson, and Tre’mond Shorts. On the second team are Holmes (specialist), Alijah Huzzie, Donovan Manuel. and Tavon Matthews.

2020-21 ETSU Statistics (6 games)
Rushing Offense: 1061 yards
Yards per game: 149.3
Yards per rush: 4.1 yards
Rushing 1st downs: 57
TDs rushing: 9
Passing Offense: 1011 yards or 168.5 yards per game
Avg. per pass: 5.8 yards
Passing 1st downs: 44
TDs passing: 5
Passing Comp-Att-Int: 96-174-4
Total Offense: 1907 yards or 317.8 yards per game
Fumbles-Lost: 10-6
3d Down Conversions: 29 of 78 (37%)
4th Down Conversions: 2 of  9 (522%)
Field goal attempts  7 - 10
PAT-Attempts: 15 of 15
On-side kicks: 0 - 0
Red Zone Scores: 16 of 22 (73%)
Red Zone Touchdowns: 11 of 22 (50%)
Punts - Yards: 28 - 1131 - Avg per punt: 40.4

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