“I’m excited to play,” Sanders said Monday during the first of his weekly news conferences at Greene Stadium. “It’s time to play. I think our guys are ready to play. We’ve had a good camp. Guys have worked hard.”
The Bucs welcome Mars Hill to Greene Stadium for a nonconference game Saturday night.
“We’ve asked a lot of them and for the most part they’ve delivered on what we’ve asked,” Sanders said of preseason camp. “So it’s time to go play. It’ll be fun to play a team in a different color jersey and we’ll get a chance to measure ourselves a little bit.”
The team released its depth chart Monday and the biggest surprise was Artevius Smith starting at strong safety. Smith arrived at ETSU as a running back and played a little wide receiver before being moved to the secondary.
The 5-foot-10, 179-pound speedster is a redshirt junior.
“He earned the job,” Sanders said. “When I came in, I told everybody ‘You’ve got a fresh start. It doesn’t matter what you’ve done in the past or what you accomplished last year or the year before. It’s a matter of what you do from this point forward.’
“He’s done a good job, earned the job. I’m excited for him and excited for his opportunity. Hopefully he takes advantage of it.”
Logan Marchi was announced as the starting quarterback on Sunday after the Temple transfer beat out incumbent Austin Herink in a tight battle. Herink had started all 33 games of his ETSU career.
Even though the Bucs published the two-deep for the first time, that document constantly changes. Players know they’re as good as only their last performance. The coaches do as well, so Saturday will go a long way in determining where each player stands in the lineup.
“A lot of time guys are one way in practice and they’re a different way in games,” Sanders said. “I’ve had guys who were great in practice, then once the lights came on, they went crazy. I’ve had some other guys who were pretty good in practice and then once you got in the game, they really got excited.
“I’m anxious to see exactly how our guys react when the lights come on.”
Linebacker Jared Folks, the team’s other Temple transfer, also made the starting lineup.
As Marchi and defensive tackle Chris Bouyer were talking with the media, alarms began going off around campus. They could be heard inside the main concourse at the stadium.
Moments later, everybody present was alerted that there was a lockdown while what was described as an assault suspect was being tracked down on campus. Eventually, the suspect was in custody and the lockdown ended.
Tom Clifton is entering his 25th season as Mars Hill’s coach. He has a record of 119-112 and went 3-7 last season. His team plays in the NCAA Division II South Atlantic Conference.
“He’s been there 25 years and I’m getting ready to coach my first one,” Sanders said. “If it comes down to a game of head coaches’ experience, we’re going to lose that one. So hopefully the players will win it for us.”
Gates open at 5:30 p.m. and kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. ETSU is planning what the school is calling a “gold out,” asking fans to wear gold to match the shirts and pants the team is planning to wear.