Wilhjelm delivers solid performance

JOHNSON CITY -- Matt Wilhjelm didn't win the car given away at halftime of the ETSU-Chattanooga game, but he did a lot to drive some critics away with his performance Saturday afternoon.
   The Buccaneer quarterback went 11-of-22 for 159 yards and threw two touchdown passes in the Bucs' 32-10 victory over the Mocs on homecoming day in Memorial Center.
   These numbers may not be the best, but it is a step up for Wilhjelm. With the exception of the Gardner-Webb game, he has struggled all year.
   But on this Saturday afternoon, he did the right things.
   "I think I'm learning," Wilhjelm said. "I've grown up over the season."
   Wilhjelm also avoided the interception on this day, something that had haunted him throughout the season.
   In addition to not getting picked off, Wilhjelm did something that Buccaneer fans had been waiting for all season long. He threw completions to seven different players.
   Wilhjelm's favorite target this season has been Cecil Moore, who has a majority of the receptions. But it looks like Wilhjelm has finally realized there are other capable players on the team.
   But Wilhjelm says more can be done.
   "It's still not enough," Wilhjelm said. "We've got guys like Charvin Clark we need to get the ball to. We need to spread it around a little bit.
   But they did a good job of doubling up on Cecil, so it was good to get guys like Tim Turner and Andrew Nuckolls and even a couple of fullbacks involved.
   Speaking of Turner, Wilhjelm almost put to rest his reputation of having a weak arm when he threw a 50-yard pass downfield to the speedy receiver.
   Wilhjelm took a lot of criticism early on this season. Several local media members, including myself, thought Wilhjelm should have been yanked for Jatavis Sanders.
   And while Wilhjelm is not a highly impressive quarterback, he's not getting them beat. If Wilhjelm had played like he did against Furman or Charleston Southern, chances are ETSU might have lost Saturday.
   You see, the running game was a non-factor. The starting tailback had a grand total of 18 yards rushing. But Wilhjelm's passing accounted for most of the offense.
   The Bucs are winning again, as they have now won three straight after starting 2-4. And if anybody believed things were going to turn around, it was Wilhjelm.
   "Everybody doubted us except the guys who wear the gold helmets," Wilhjelm said. "It feels good to be in a position to go out and get a winning season. Coach always says tough times don't last, but tough people do."
   And for Wilhjelm, his tough times now seem long gone.