JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (Sept. 18, 2017) – The ETSU football team held its weekly press luncheon to begin preparations for this Saturday’s home Southern Conference game with Mercer. Kickoff is set for 3:30 p.m. at William B. Greene, Jr. Stadium.
Head coach Carl Torbush, red-shirt junior linebacker Dylan Weigel (Pickerington, Ohio) and red-shirt quarterback Austin Herink (Cleveland, Tenn.) met the media inside William B. Greene, Jr. Stadium on Monday.
Below are comments from Coach Torbush, Weigel and Herink.
HEAD COACH CARL TORBUSH
We have another big challenge this week. Mercer is an extremely well coached team. I've known Bobby Lamb for many years and he is an outstanding football coach and he has an outstanding group of assistants.
If you have a weakness, they will try to expose it. If you look at what they've done so far this year, they won that first week against Jacksonville and lost a close game to Wofford and gave Auburn everything they could handle last weekend. They had a legitimate chance to win that game going into the 4th quarter, and they didn't back down.
I thought Mercer went in there and fought. They believed in what they're doing. The have very solid team. We know we'll have our hands full this week.
They do a great job on defense. They will peck at you, find things that work and take advantage of it. They got beat the week before against Wofford, 28-27, which tells you how close the ball game was. They have an offense that's averaging 28 points a game, so they can definitely move the ball and create big plays. The one thing that scares me is their defense has eight takeaways in three games, including five last weekend at Auburn. Anytime you can force that many turnovers gives you a great shot to win any game.
If you look at their program, they have been in existence two years more than ours. The thing we have to do is look at where we started two years ago. They beat us pretty bad the first year, but last year we had a chance to win at the end of the game.
Our players are excited about playing them. We know we have a great challenge ahead of us, but I think it's going to be a great opportunity for us. We should go in there pretty healthy. I think our players are excited about returning to practice and getting ready for this weekend’s home game with Mercer.
WITH LAST YEAR’S GAME AT MERCER COMING DOWN TO THE WIRE DOES THAT MAKE YOU GUYS THINK THIS IS ONE GAME YOU CAN GET?
You can't base anything on last year but I do know this, we have the same players we had last year. If you look at the guys that made the plays last year and the guys that are back this year, they're the same guys, so we don't have any excuses. We have the majority of our starters back. They (Mercer) have about 11 or 12 starters back.
They have done a nice job in recruiting and brought in talented players to replace those guys they lost.
Coach Lamb has been coaching in the SoCon for many years, so he will have his team ready to play this weekend.
If you ask our players, you won’t find one guy that does not think that if we play as well as we can this week that we should have an excellent opportunity to win the ball game.
ON DYLAN BEING NAMED SOCON DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE WEEK
I want to congratulate Dylan. This is a well-deserving honor. Dylan played extremely well on Saturday. He played very, very hard. He played tough and ran to the ball well.
ON THE PUNTING SITUATION
We have lost field position with the punting game. Our punters know it, our coaches know, we all know it. We're probably trying to manufacture too many yards on punts. Ideally, you want to punt it for 40 to 42 yards with some hang time and flip the field position.
I think the biggest disappointment last week was we took a penalty to back it up so that we could kick it 30 or 40 yards, get it inside the 10, but it didn't work out that way.
We can't pressure, we can't stress, we can't strain, because in whatever sport you are playing, if you do that then you're not going to do what you're capable of. We have confidence in our kickers. We have confidence in our snappers. What we need to do is go out and perform like we do in practice.
ON IMPROVING THE RUN GAME
We have played some really good defenses but obviously we all know, including our football players, we have to do a better job in our run game. We have to make sure that we don't end up in 2nd-and-long and 3rd-and-long situations, which we did a lot last week. It's a challenge for our offensive line and for running backs. We have to be more successful.
DYLAN WEIGEL – R-JR. – LINEBACKER
ON HIS 19 TACKLES VS. CITADEL
It was a physical game. We knew it was going to be physical coming to into it after playing them last year. The Citadel is a physical ball team. With running the triple option, they are coming at you every play. We knew we had to come out and execute, but it definitely felt like we had a lot of plays. It felt like a lot of hits.
My goal is to try to be the best linebacker that's on the field against each team, each week. The guys that don't get as much credit as they should are our defensive line. They are the ones eating up blocks, allowing me to make plays, so I definitely couldn’t be able to do what I do without their help. Coach Taylor also deserves a lot of credit. He does a great job preparing us for the triple option. He has played and coached against it, so he gets us in the right alignment, assignment. We have seen it (triple option) a few times since I've been here, so we know now what to expect. Having the chance to play these SoCon teams last year helps as it gives us the chance to review last year’s film to see how they blocked us.
ON TRANSITIONING FROM AN OPTION TEAM IN THE CITADEL TO PLAYING MERCER THIS WEEK
We go against our offense all summer and spring, so it's not too hard of a transition. We will watch some film, get back to practice this week, and put in the work we need to do to get ready for Mercer. I think it will be a good transition.
ON FACING MERCER’S QUARTERBACK WHO HAS A STRONG ARM AND CAN ALSO RUN
A quarterback that can scramble definitely makes it that much tougher. We have played against a few strong scrambling quarterbacks over the last few years. We just have to make sure we're doing our alignment, assignment and do the little things right. I think it's a key thing we have to focus on this week in practice.
AUSTIN HERINK – R-JR. – QUARTERBACK
ON SCORING ON THE FIRST PLAY LAST SATURDAY
It’s always great to score seven points on your first play, but the one negative is you don't get much information on the defense. Since we were only out there for one play, they see what you're doing but you don't get much information. It was good to score seven points but, on your first drive, you want to get some information on the defense, what they're doing, and sustain a drive.
ON LAST YEAR’S GAME AT MERCER COMING DOWN TO THE LAST PLAY
I definitely remember that. I play that back in my head quite a bit, especially during the off-season. Offensively, we came into that game last year not moving the ball very much those few weeks leading up to Mercer. I think we got in a rhythm there, and that propelled us to the end of the season. Hopefully with us knowing we had some success against them last year that will help give us some confidence heading into this weekend’s game. We need to help those guys on the defensive side of the ball out and keep them off the filed a little bit so they can rest.
ON GETTING THE RUN GAME GOING
I definitely think we have some great running backs and offensive linemen. For whatever reason, it just hasn't clicked yet. Hopefully we can get it working this week. We will go back to what we do and figure out where we're lacking in that area, but there's no doubt in my mind we'll get the run game going.
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