Brock Landis

Brock Landis was the Bucs' starting quarterback by the end of last season.

JOHNSON CITY — East Tennessee State football coach Randy Sanders will get a chance to see his team in action for the first time Wednesday night when the Bucs hold their first intrasquad scrimmage of the preseason.

The team will go live at Greene Stadium after just a couple of days in pads.

“I know what a lot of the older kids are going to do,” Sanders said. “And I don’t expect the timing to be there offensively. I don’t expect all the communication to be there exactly right between the quarterbacks and receivers. But you do find out who can tackle. You do find out who can block. You do find out who can run.”

Every year at this time, preseason scrimmages are a conundrum for coaches. If the Bucs’ defense looks as good as is expected, it will come at the expense of the team’s offense, which will raise questions about that unit. Likewise, if the offense moves the ball well, those questions will be asked of the defense.

Sanders has said he uses the scrimmages to gauge individual performances as much as anything.

“Who’s going to show up when you start playing football?” he said. “Who’s going to disappear when you start actually tackling, and things like that. It’s amazing how some people will look good out here in shorts and shells, but once they start playing real football, they disappear.”

The first scrimmage normally would have been held Saturday, but Sanders pushed it back because the NCAA has limited how much time the team can practice in pads and the Bucs weren’t quite ready.

“I don’t want to go out and scrimmage and have had only one previous day in pads, so I need one more day in pads,” he said. “Unfortunately they don’t allow us to do it back to back because they think football coaches are too stupid to be able to practice right, keep them healthy. So we’ll get a day in pads next week and then scrimmage on Wednesday.”

All eyes will be on the quarterbacks, a position that could determine the Bucs’ success this season.

In Sanders’ three previous seasons as ETSU’s head coach, he’s had three different starting quarterbacks on opening day. And he’s had a different one by the time each season has ended.

With Tyler Riddell and Brock Landis — who combined for all of the action at the position last season — back, the starting job is still up for grabs. Redshirt freshman Cade Larkins out of David Crockett has been getting plenty of reps in practice as well as he rehabs his surgically repaired knee.

The team is preparing for its season opener, Sept. 4 at Vanderbilt.

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