Football Press Conference vs. Mercer
Football Press Conference vs. Mercer
Monday, October 10, 2022

Bucs look for second straight road conference win Saturday in Macon, Ga. 

JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (Oct. 10, 2022) – For the second straight week, ETSU football will hit the road in hopes of collecting a conference win as the Bucs take on No. 11 Mercer on Saturday at 4 p.m. in Macon, Ga. On Monday, members of the program hosted local media for a weekly press conference.

ETSU head coach George Quarles was joined by redshirt-senior fullback Jawan Martin (Decatur, Tenn.) and redshirt-junior defensive back Quinn Smith (Cincinnati, Ohio) during today’s press conference.

Below are comments from Coach Quarles, Martin and Smith.

Head Coach George Quarles

How did it feel to see some smiles in the locker room after last week’s win?

It was very nice. I’m very happy for our guys. We overcame some adversity and it was just really good to get a win. Seeing a happy locker room — there’s nothing quite like that. It’s like I told our guys, enjoy this, because winning a college football game is tough and it’s nothing to take for granted. And to win the way we did made it extra special.

Talk about Mercer and the challenges they pose?

Mercer is a really talented team and they’re playing really well. They’ve pretty much blown out all of their opponents except Auburn. The Citadel game was closer scoreboard-wise I think than the actual game. Coach (Drew) Cronic is doing a great job down there. We coached together at Furman for one year, then he left for the Lenoir-Rhyne job. It’s not surprising how he’s flipped it down there. He’s got a unique system offensively, and they’ve obviously been playing really well defensively. It’s a tough challenge, but it’s just like every other game in this league. It just feels like every week it’s a one-possession game or a tight game. This one is no different. 

Mercer QB Fred Payton has yet to thrown an interception, what does he do special?

I just think he’s really comfortable in their offense. He makes good decisions. I think it’s 16 touchdowns and no picks — hard to be much better than that. I think his decision-making is really good right now and he’s obviously got good talent. At the end of the day, it comes down to those decisions and he’s got some pretty good guys to throw it to — James and Harper are really talented receivers. (Payton) has been in that offense now for another season and last year was his first year in the offense. He’s more comfortable and they’re just playing really well. 

Talk about utilizing the fullback position in your offense last week?

I think having Jawan Martin in the game provides a toughness. He’s not just a tough guy, he also catches the ball well out of the backfield. He can do a lot of different things. We kid around with him that he’s kind of that Swiss Army Knife — he can catch it, he can run it. I’m sure he could throw it if we let him. He’s a really good football player that provides that little bit of toughness that we need right now. We’re able to run a bit more power with him in there. You put him on the back side of plays, and he cleans stuff up. He’s just a good football player.

Alijah Huzzie ranks among the nation’s leaders in interceptions. Talk about his play.

I told our guys this morning that you’d take about 50 of Alijah Huzzie. He’s one of those guys that you hardly know he’s there. He shows up, he goes to work, he’s great in the weight room, he’s great in school and obviously he’s a great player on Saturday. I think he’s playing with a lot of confidence. He’s stuck over there on the boundary and he’s one-on-one most of the time — and so is Quinn Smith — both corners. I think he’ll get challenged Saturday against two of the best receivers in our league. He’s been great. He’s quick to give other people credit, but the way he competes and goes after the ball, I wouldn’t be surprised if he continues to (succeed) because he’s going to get chances if people keep throwing at him.   


Fullback – Jawan Martin

How did it feel to get some added playing time Saturday?

It was fun. I felt like that’s what we needed — a little tough-nosed football. I feel like that’s our culture and we’ve got to get back to that.

You do so many things, do you enjoy putting a guy on his back or catching it and running it?

I definitely like hitting and putting someone on their back, but there’s no better feeling than scoring a touchdown in college football.

How did it feel to get that first conference win this past Saturday?

I feel like it was good for us. Like Quinn said, finishing (is key). What they say about Mercer is that the game is usually over at halftime. Well that’s when our defense has played their best. So when we get the ball on offense, we have to make the most of those opportunities when they give us the ball back. We got to set them forward and get some points on the board.

Talk about your background in football and your family lineage?

It’s always been there. My dad was a good athlete but he didn’t pursue that in life. Growing up with a single mom, I got into football in the fifth grade and then it helped me build a brother-ship and develop as a man. It’s just something that stuck with me and I love it. My uncle Tim Martin played at Marshall from 1994-97. Cool story — after college, him and Randy Moss actually owned a NASCAR truck together. A funny story with that also is the driver of the truck — his name was Tim Martin as well. The No. 5 truck. My little cousin is committed to Marshall right now and my cousin played at the University of Marshall from 94-97, as well.


Defensive Back – Quinn Smith

How did it feel to get that first conference win this past Saturday?

I felt like it went great. We needed that to come together. Like coach said, finishing the second half. I feel like that was our problem in the first part of the season. So that’s what we harped on all week was finishing the second half, so once we got that job done, it was a big relief.

When you see that an offense hasn’t thrown an interception, does that create a personal challenge?

That puts a little chip on our shoulder. We’re definitely up for the challenge and can’t wait to compete. The quarterback is really good when you look at his numbers.

How would you assess the defense so far?

I feel like we’re doing good so far, but as always, we have room to improve. If your interior front can get good pressure and the linebackers can hold their gaps and the DBs (defensive backs) can do their job, you can’t really beat that defense. We just have to trust each other and working hard.


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