Bucs preparing for Citadel test

Joe Avento • Updated Oct 24, 2016 at 5:41 PM

As his team prepares to jump back into the Southern Conference portion of is schedule, East Tennessee State University football coach Carl Torbush says the Bucs might be getting ready for their toughest game of the season.

ETSU plays at The Citadel on Saturday against a team that has beaten all comers, including Chattanooga and Wofford.

“We know we’re getting ready to get in a dog fight this week,” Torbush said Monday during his weekly news conference. “I think it’s an exciting time for our football program and team. It’s going to give us a chance to see where we are, where we need to go.”

Torbush admits his goal is to try to keep it close as long as he can with the hopes of stealing the game in the closing minutes.

The Citadel has played a lot of close games this season and has won them all. The Bulldogs are 7-0 for the first time in program history and ranked fifth in the FCS poll. Five of the seven wins have been by eight points or fewer.

“That’s what we’ve got to do,” Torbush said when asked about keeping it close. “There’s no doubt. They’re not concerned about beating somebody 58-0. They have the athletes to be able to that, but they’re not concerned about the stats.”

The Citadel is coming off a 24-21 overtime victory against Wofford and beat Chattanooga 22-14 the week before.

The Bulldogs sit alone in first place in the Southern Conference at 5-0 and control their own destiny when it comes to the conference championship.

“This is the type of team we’re going to play week in, week out and this is the kind of team that we’re going to have to beat if we’re going to have a chance to win a SoCon championship at some point,” Torbush said.

The option attack of The Citadel is a potent one. The team averages 353 yards per game on the ground, tops in the FCS statistics. The Bulldogs managed to rush for more than 1,000 yards within a week this season when they got 513 against Western Carolina on Oct. 1 and 559 against North Greenville the following Thursday night.

“The good thing is we’ve played two option teams,” Torbush said. “The bad thing is they’ve probably got a pretty good idea of how we’re going to line up. But it’s not a matter of lining up and out-scheming anybody. It’s a matter of playing good, disciplined football and our guys taking care of their jobs, playing very physical and making sure we do a good job of tackling.”

The Citadel is averaging 10,678 fans per home game this season, so the Bucs know they’ll be entering a hostile environment.

“I think The Citadel is one of the toughest places to play in our conference,” Torbush said. “They have a lot of the Corps that go to school there. They’re going to be at the ballgame and they’re going to be very loud.”

The Bucs (3-4 overall, 1-4 SoCon) will be trying to break a four-game conference losing streak. They won their last outing, 38-7, over West Virginia Wesleyan in a non-conference game.

“We’re coming off a win,” Torbush said “We need to have a great week of practice and go down to The Citadel and play up to the best of our ability.”

Saturday’s game begins at 2 p.m. and will be streamed by ESPN3.

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