ETSU gears up for Elon

By Wes Holtsclaw
STAR CORRESPONDENT
wholtsclaw@starhq.com

   As the alumni pour in, and the students begin to go crazy, homecoming begins to lure around East Tennessee State University. This year, however, the homecoming contest brings a lot more to the table as the Bucs face the Elon University Phoenix.
   Elon (2-4, 0-1) will be joining the Southern Conference next season, replacing VMI, but is anxious to get an upper hand on the Buccaneers.
   ETSU (3-3, 2-2) comes into this game after a 26-7 loss to The Citadel in Charleston, S.C., while Elon concludes their four-game road trip in Johnson City after losing to Gardner-Webb, 38-27.
   Many people believe this could go either way, and that philosophy has stuck with the Buccaneer football team this week.
   "We respect Elon, Coach Al Seagraves and their players and the way they've built that program up," said ETSU head coach Paul Hamilton. "They've had some good wins since he's been there. We know they'll come in and be a good football team.
   "We've lost some tough games the last two weeks and nobody's feeling good about themselves. I'm proud of the way our defensive team is playing. We've got to start making some first downs on offense. The key is being in the ball game in the fourth quarter and keeping it close."
   Coach Hamilton believes his team has regrouped from its contest against The Citadel, as it proved to be a wake-up call for his offense.
   "Our defensive secondary played well against a good quarterback (Jeff Klein)," he said. "They're a quality football team. I knew we were headed into a challenging situation. I really felt we held their quarterbacks to 130 yards and that's a credit to our defense.
   "Offensively, Jatavis Sanders has been where we want him, but not quite there with the results. We've just got to focus on Elon this week, and try to win this homecoming game for all of ETSU."
   The Bucs still lack a breakout game from the backfield, as Gavin Varner and Scott Carter have been able to cut loose. ETSU hopes that it can make some adjustments by giving Nick Spearman and Adonis Johnson a shot.
   But the one thing that has been noticed around this area is the lack of local respect for the Bucs this season.
   Hopefully, with a good game this week and an effort at building back, the Bucs can prove that Paul Hamilton is worthy of sticking around and get a jumpstart for the next season.