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Bucs hope week off helps them change their groove

Joe Avento • Oct 14, 2019 at 11:24 PM

JOHNSON CITY — Randy Sanders says he’s usually not a big fan of the bye week, but East Tennessee State’s football coach admits this one might have come at the right time.

Sanders’ team is still searching for its first Southern Conference victory a year after sharing the league championship, and he’s hoping a week off helps the Bucs get back on the winning track.

“I always like to continue playing,” Sanders said Monday. “You kind of get in a routine. You get in a groove. After the last couple of weeks, maybe we needed a week off to change our groove.”

The Bucs (2-4, 0-3) lost each of their first two SoCon games by a touchdown before being handled easily by Wofford in a 35-17 decision in their last outing.

“I told the team I still feel like we’re a good football team,” Sanders said.

“Last game against Wofford was probably the worst game we’ve played this year,” he added, “but it was probably the best team we’ve played this year, Appalachian State notwithstanding.”

Sanders and the Bucs don’t have to wait too long before getting back into action. They play at Chattanooga (3-3, 2-0) on Thursday with kickoff set for 7 p.m. at Finley Stadium.

Chattanooga and Furman are the only SoCon teams without a league loss.

The Mocs have won two in a row after running a gauntlet with consecutive losses to Jacksonville State, Tennessee and James Madison.

“Their offensive line is good,” Sanders said. “I think they’re big and they’ve got some experience there. They’ve got some guys who are pretty impressive on film. They have a quarterback that has some experience and their receivers look like they’re better than they were last year.”

THURSDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL

Sanders said Monday that he was already in Wednesday practice mode with the game coming up so quick. Other than that, he said playing on Thursday doesn’t feel that much different.

“Once you go out there for the coin toss and you kick it off, that football doesn’t know what day of the week it is,” Sanders said “It just knows who plays the best usually wins.”

TURNOVERS

ETSU has forced six turnovers — two fumble recoveries and four interceptions — and Sanders says those numbers need to start increasing in a hurry.

“We have to try to create more turnovers,” he said. “We have to try to do some things. Nobody is helping us a whole lot. That’s one of the biggest differences between last year and this year. Last year, it seemed like teams helped us. This year, nobody’s helping us and we have to go make those plays ourselves.”

PENALTIES

Through six games, ETSU is the most penalized team, yardage-wise, in the conference. They’ve piled up 397 yards of penalties on 33 accepted flags.

RAIL TROPHY

This will be the second year ETSU and Chattanooga play for the Rail Trophy. The Bucs won last year’s game 17-14.

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