Buccaneers face No. 22 Paladins

By Seth Bartee
The ETSU Buccaneers will face another SoCon power this Saturday as they walk into Paladin Stadium to face #22 ranked Furman. Furman (4-3, 2-2), is hosting the Bucs (3-4,0-3) for their homecoming weekend, which means that the Paladins expect an easy win for their returning alumni.
Paul Hamilton believes that his short handed Bucs are no pushover. Even facing his next three games against top 25 SoCon teams Hamilton feels confident.
"Our expectation is to win," said Hamilton. "There is no doubt that we realize we are looking down a loaded barrel. If we can take care of the ball then we have the ability to play anybody."
Going into Saturday's game the Bucs are loaded defensively. Corner back, Tony Tiller received national honors this week as he was named player of the week for his defensive play against Liberty last weekend. Tiller intercepted two passes and returned them for touchdowns in ETSU's 33-23 win over Liberty. He knows that he will be hard pressed to get the same kind of opportunities he had against Liberty but he's not deterred.
"I do not care if the ball is not thrown my way," said Tiller. "I'm still going to be ready even if they pass is on the other side of the field."
In total offense the Buccaneers are second from last in the SoCon only above Elon. Furman is fourth in the SoCon in total offense with their most impressive win being over Western Carolina 19-13 and a close loss against Palmetto state rival, Clemson. If the offenses of these two teams are not impressive on paper their defensive games are. Furman is number one is total defense in the SoCon only allowing 274.4 yards a game. The Buccaneers are second, yielding just 313.6 yards per game.
"There's no question that Furman has the best defense in the league," said Hamilton. "Their linebackers are very athletic and they can run fast." The most impressive statistics for the 22 ranked Paladins is their second half defensive stats. The Paladins have allowed only 16 second half points in seven games this year. "There defensive line is sound and they have strong safeties."
In a game that could come down to punts and field goals Furman has the advantage. "Their kicking game is always sound," said Hamilton. Furman senior kicker, Danny Marshall leads the SoCon in field goal kicking with 10 field goals out of 12 attempts. "Marshall is one of the best kickers in the country."
The Buccaneers will walk into Paladin Stadium Saturday for the last time. Furman holds a 22-7 advantage over the Bucs. The series started in 1957; ETSU's last win over Furman was in 2000 when the Bucs won 23-21 in Johnson City. Game time will be at 2:00 at Paladin Stadium in Greenville, SC.