JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (Nov. 7, 2016) – ETSU football held its weekly football press conference on Monday as the Bucs are gearing up for this weekend’s Homecoming game versus Cumberland.
Head coach Carl Torbush, sophomore wide receiver Drake Powell (Clinton, Tenn.) and sophomore linebacker Dylan Weigel (Pickerington, Ohio) met the media to recap last Saturday’s game versus Mercer, while looking ahead to this weekend’s matchup against the Bulldogs.
Below are comments from Coach Torbush, Powell and Weigel.
HEAD COACH CARL TORBUSH
ON THE MERCER GAME
I want to compliment our players and coaching staff because we were prepared and played with great effort. We played with a lot of excitement, enthusiasm, and played with a great physicality. It was a heartbreaking defeat.
We had excellent opportunities. Going into the fourth quarter, we had every opportunity to win. It came down to the last play of the game when we had the interception. If we would have been able to make that play and gone into the end zone, we would have gone for two and tried to force overtime. I thought our coaches and team did a tremendous job with clock management to get us in a position at the end.
We got beat by a good football team. If you look at Mercer's record, if you look at who they played, the scores of the game, there's no doubt that we knew going in it was going to be a tough, hard-fought game. I thought our players responded to it very well. The great thing I like about it is we're getting more experience each week. I think we're showing a stronger mental toughness. I don't like getting beat any more than our players do, but at the same time, when you compare last year’s game to this one, it shows the progress being made in our program.
I feel good about where we are, especially after that game. We didn't always play quite as smart as I'd like for us to or make all the plays we wanted to make, but that's part of football. It's not going to be a perfect game. You have to be able to make certain plays to have a chance to win. I think we were able to do that, and the thing that we always talk about as a football team is having a chance to win in the fourth quarter. We had that chance. We just didn't get it done, so we have to learn from that. Obviously, we've got two games left and we want to have a strong finish to our season.
ON THE LONG TOUCHDOWN PASS AT MERCER
If you look at our game, when Austin's (Herink) has time to throw on rhythm and our receivers have time to get open, we throw and catch very well. Most of the miscues that happen are when we don’t get off the line of scrimmage on a route. By the time the route opens up, there's already pressure in Austin's face, and then he's not able to throw on rhythm. After a while, if that continues to happen, the quarterback gets a little shaken. Austin doesn't get shaken very often – or at least he doesn't show it – but still, if you know that you've got time to throw, and you can set, throw, and catch, then you're going to be pretty successful.
ON THE PLAY OF DRAKE POWELL
We found him. He became the go-to guy at wide receiver. Drake had their secondary backing off him after he caught a few passes. He’s a big, strong guy who can make some plays, but the thing that impressed me with the long touchdown play was the foot speed he showed. I am proud of Drake for what he has been able to do. He has been banged up a bit and he’s now getting healthy. He’s only a sophomore so we are excited for what he can do for us in the future. He’s going to have a great career here at ETSU. The thing I am most proud about him is he’s one of the guys we started trying to build the program around when we signed him.
Cumberland is a good, solid football team. They have won four of their last six games. They enter their final game at 5-5, which tells you what they're preaching – win this game and have a winning season.
What we have to do is make sure that we focus on what we're capable of doing. The thing we always talk about – play as well as we can play. We need to improve from last week. We need to get done what we need to get done as football team, as a football program, and to give us a chance to show improvement these last two games of the season.
Obviously, the last several weeks we've been playing SoCon teams. We're playing a Cumberland team that's a lower division team. That doesn't make any difference. They have good athletes and quite a few transfers. If you look at their roster, they have some guys who have played at different places. A matter of fact, a couple of them had played here, so I know that they'll be excited about having the chance to play against us.
They have 27 sacks as a defensive unit, and that's a major concern. It’s something that we have to do a good job of. We need to make sure that Austin (Herink) has a chance to throw the football and give him a chance to sit back in the pocket.
Offensively, they're pretty balanced in what they do. They have four or five running backs that they like to rotate in and out. They also do the same at quarterback. They are not huge running backs, but they are quick. Their receivers run very good routes and catch the ball well. The offensive line has done a very good job of doing what they need to get done in helping their running and passing game. We need to tackle well, be physical, make plays in the passing game and stop the rushing attack.
Defensively, they have a linebacker (Nathan Jernigan), who was the conference player of the year last year. He already has over 100 tackles this year. Their defensive lineman (Justus Dauscha) has 11 of their 27 sacks. They are not as tall as a lot of the teams we've played, but they have some good athletes who can make plays.
This is an important game for us. We want to make sure we improve from the Mercer game because the thing that we really want to work on and make sure we get done is move from Mercer-to-Cumberland-to-Samford, and make sure when this season's over that we're feeling good about where we are headed.
SOPHOMORE WIDE RECEIVER DRAKE POWELL
ON THE KEY TO HIS SUCCESS ON SATURDAY
It was a combination of everything working together like one big puzzle. The touchdown pass started with our offensive line doing their job up front. Then Austin (Herink) delivered a perfect ball. He got it to me quickly after I got out of my break and the rest was history.
ON THE 69-YARD TOUCHDOWN RECEPTION
I ran a lot of hitches but as soon as I came out of it, I acted like I was about to turn around and the defender was coming. He tried to collide with me a little bit, but luckily I dodged it, caught the ball and ran in.
DID YOU NOTICE AFTER THAT PLAY THAT YOU WERE GETTING OPEN A LITTLE MORE EASILY?
I wouldn't necessarily say it was easier, but they respected the big home run ball a lot more.
SOPHOMORE LINEBACKER DYLAN WEIGEL
ON WHAT YOU REMEMBER ABOUT LOSING LAST YEAR’S HOMECOMING GAME
It's definitely not a good feeling for everyone, the fans, players, and coaching staff. We need to have a good week at practice – that's where it starts. We need to do our job staying focused and preparing to play another good football team. We have to come out and make sure we get every rep in, don't take a rep or period off, and come out and practice hard so we finish this year off the right way.
DO YOU THINK LAST WEEK (AT MERCER) REMINDED YOU GUYS THAT AN UNDERDOG COULD POSSIBLY RUIN A HOMECOMING IF THEY ARE GIVEN A CHANCE?
It definitely did, and we need to be aware of it. We need to come out ready to play this weekend, be physical and make our plays.
WHAT IS IT ABOUT HOMECOMING THAT MAKES IT A DIFFERENT WEEK THAN USUAL?
Homecoming is a special time. Former players will come back this week to see where we are, so that's exciting to be able to play for the guys that played before us. That’s the most special part about this week. We will have a lot of family come in to watch the game, so it’ll be an exciting week around campus. There are a lot of things going on all week to add extra hype for this game, so going out there and making sure we perform well and get the win on Saturday is big.
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