Lean ETSU team tries to capitalize on strengths

By Seth Bartee
Being thin is in, but not when you're a football team looking for its third straight win of the season.
The Bucs have a lean roster this year. The players aren't small, just the number of them dressing out for each game is.
With the future of the football team being anything but up in the air right now, it easy to see why ETSU isn't exactly the best place for budding young players to come and develop long-term.
"I've never coached a team that is this thin," said Hamilton.
What the Bucs lack in player numbers however, they make up for with effort. The Bucs improved their record to 2-1 with a down to the wire 14-7 OT win at UT-Martin last Thursday.
This Saturday the Bucs lock horns with Elon, which hosts ETSU in what will be the Phoenix's first-ever Southern Conference game.
"Defensively, Elon is a good team and offensive running back Rashaud Palmer is a versatile player," said Hamilton.
Palmer, ranked 44th in the nation in rushing, covered 120 yards of turf last week in Elon's win over Hofstra. The question is, do the Bucs have the mechanics to stop a running machine like Palmer?
"Our front seven players are good and we will move the guys around to stop him," Hamilton said.
Quarterback Carl Meadows threw for 137 yards against UT-Martin but Hamilton felt that he was trying to make too much happen. Meadow's eyes got a little big, but he still came through to win the game, he said.
Meadows was named SoCon freshmen of the week for the second consecutive week.
Meadows won't be the only offensive weapon in ETSU's arsenal this weekend against Elon. Gaven Varner, 6-1, 230-pound running back, who rushed for a 162 yards with 33 carries last week is certainly a threat to the Phoenix defense.
The SoCon recognized Varner's efforts during last week's game by naming him the offensive player of the week.
Coach Hamilton said that he wants to spread the offense around and keep Varner healthy. He also believes Varner can run for 150 yards per game if he stays out of harms way.
Elon will be coming out hard Saturday as this will be their 800th game and as mentioned before their first game as a member of the Southern Conference. On their minds is the loss last year to ETSU 31-15 in the Mini Dome.
"When we played last Elon helped us out a lot by making some big mistakes" said Hamilton on last year's game.
Senior wide receiver Andrew Nuckolls continues to shine. He caught both passes from Meadows to score the only two ETSU scores last week. So far Nuckolls is making up for lost time in his junior year when he did not catch any touchdown passes.
The Bucs enter with the best record in the Southern Conference at 2-1 with Furman and Georgia Southern coming next both at 1-1. In pre-season picks the Bucs were picked to finished second from last and Elon taking the last spot.
Hamilton says this game will be a good indicator of how far the team has come and if they can keep it together the rest of the season.
Kickoff this Saturday is at 2 p.m. at Elon. The Bucs play their second conference game of the season next Saturday when they host Western Carolina at 1 p.m.