If Randy Sanders has anything to do with it — and he does — the East Tennessee State football team will be ready to run through a brick wall on Saturday night.
Sanders said his Bucs were lacking the emotion he wanted to see during their 45-14 victory over UVA Wise. With Delaware State coming to Greene Stadium on Saturday night, Sanders says he wants to see the same attitude the team had in its season- opening victory over Vanderbilt.
“I thought our performance Saturday turned out to be very businesslike, very workmanlike,” Sanders said Monday during his weekly news conference. “But we didn’t have the energy and the emotion I would like for us to have each week. We have to be excited about playing. You have so many guaranteed opportunities. We’ve got nine left. We need to be excited about the nine opportunities we have to play, because once they’re gone, they’re gone. And you’re on to the next season.”
The 2-0 Bucs moved up to No. 17 in the coaches national FCS poll. They fell a spot to 16th in the STATS FCS rankings.
PLAYER OF THE WEEK
Running back Jacob Saylors was announced as the Southern Conference offensive player of the week after his career-best 173 all-purpose yards on Saturday.
Saylors rushed for 75 yards and a 16-yard touchdown and caught three passes for 75 more yards, including a 64-yard screen pass for a touchdown. He also had a 23-yard kickoff return.
Quarterback Tyler Riddell threw two touchdown passes before giving way to Brock Landis, who was active for the first time. The two players who shared the starting job during the spring season, both had their moments.
“They’re getting evaluated every day, every game, so we’re going to put whoever we feel gives us the best opportunity to win,” Sanders said.
Sanders reiterated that he’ll never be upset when his team wins, even against a Division II opponent, but he didn’t like what he saw on the film.
“I thought we played sloppy,” Sanders said. “Too many penalties, too many missed assignments, too many missed tackles on defense … things that we can definitely improve. We’ve got to kick the ball better and we’ve got to cover our kicks better. We’ve got to start much faster on offense. We’ve got to start much faster on defense. So there’s still a lot of things. We’ve got to make a lot of improvement as a football team to accomplish what we want to accomplish.”
The Bucs were missing several regulars against UVA Wise.
Linebackers Blake Bockrath and Jared Folks as well as defensive end Austin Lewis and receiver Julian Price didn’t play. Folks, Lewis and Price, all expected to be prominent contributors, have not appeared in a game yet because of injuries.
Sanders said he expects some of them to be back in action this week, although he wouldn’t reveal which ones.
“I’m hoping to get two, if not three, of those guys back this week,” he said. “At one point I looked over there and we had a lot of guys on the sideline that have played a lot of football that need to be on the field and it was fairly early in the game.”
Lewis, the defensive end who transferred from Liberty, injured his knee in a preseason scrimmage.
“I would expect Austin to be making a return soon, hopefully sooner than later,” Sanders said.
Defensive lineman Caman Cody, who started in the spring, still hasn’t played as well.
In addition, safety Tyree Robinson didn’t play much in the second half on Saturday.
“He got dinged up a little bit,” Sanders said. “I don’t think there’s too much from what I understand. If Tyree’s the competitor I think he is, I think he’ll be back.”