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Business as usual: Bucs return to practice

Joe Avento • Apr 3, 2018 at 7:59 PM

The East Tennessee State football team practiced at Greene Stadium on Tuesday for the first time since head coach Randy Sanders was placed on administrative leave.

The Bucs tried to keep it business as usual, at least the best they could.

“We’re carrying on just like Coach Sanders was here, just like he’d want us to do,” defensive coordinator Billy Taylor said after the workout.

With Sanders out and offensive coordinator Marcus Satterfield having left the program this week, the offense is in the hands of wide receivers coach Mike Rader, who will call the plays in Thursday night’s spring game.

“Coach Sanders has done a great job and I’m just trying to get out here and do my job, call the best plays that I can and get us in the best situations I can,” Rader said. “This is about the kids. This is about them getting out here and having fun and playing football.”

Rader, a former head coach at Maryville College, said it’s been a fun challenge learning all the details of Sanders’ offense.

“Spring has been fast for me,” Rader said. “We installed a new offense and there’s a lot of new details. As we continue to learn the details of this offense, we’re going to be pretty good.”

When Rader was asked if the coaching staff was as excited as the players about Sanders’ “wide open” attack, he said the offense was a work in progress and the team will play to the strength of whatever playmakers it has.

“Obviously, he wanted to install the base of his offense, but at the same time, we’re always talking about ‘Who are the playmakers? Who do you want to get the ball to,’ ” Rader said. “So to say that we’re going to be this, or going to be that, that’s not really a fair statement. We’re going to do whatever we need to do to win football games.”

For the first time since the program was reinstated, the Bucs are practicing with four full classes. They’ll even have some red-shirt seniors in the fall.

“Practice has gone a lot smoother because there’s experience and guys know what they’re doing,” Taylor said. “It’s been fantastic this entire spring. With Coach Sanders here, it’s brought a lot of new energy and it’s just continuing all through spring. We’re keeping everything as normal as it can be. We know that Coach Sanders will be back with us.”

The spring game is set for Thursday at 7 p.m. at Greene Stadium and is open to the public.

After the spring game, the Bucs will take part in offseason conditioning. They won’t be back on the field as a unit until preseason camp.

“I think we’re in a position now where every game we go into we have a chance to win, in the Southern Conference and I-AA football,” Taylor said. “We’re getting to the point now where we expect to win. It’s been a great experience being part of this building process.”

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