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Tennessee Football Opponent Preview: ETSU Buccaneers

Tennessee hosts ETSU in its 2018 home opener.

ETSU Athletics

After a 40-14 loss at the hands of No. 17 West Virginia last Saturday, Tennessee returns to the friendly confines of Neyland Stadium this week to take on East Tennessee State.

Tennessee, though it did have a few bright spots in its season-opening loss, did not look overly impressive in Jermey Pruitt’s debut as a head coach. The Vols will look to get to pick up their first win of the season against an in-state FCS opponent this week.


ETSU began playing football again in 2015 after discontinuing its football program following the 2003 season. The Buccaneers are an FCS program and compete in the Southern Conference.

ETSU’s new head coach is former Tennessee quarterback and assistant coach Randy Sanders. Sanders was an assistant at UT from 1989-2005, before coaching at Kentucky and Florida State through 2017, and is now in his first season as a head coach.

Last Week

In their opening game of 2018, the Buccaneers defeated Division II Mars Hill 28-7.

Mars Hill took a 7-0 lead in the first quarter on an 11-play, 73-yard drive, which ended in a 15-yard touchdown pass from Austin Brown to Craig Rucker. ETSU tied the game with 24 seconds left in the first half on a 14-yard pass from Logan Marchi to Knoxville native Kobe Kelley.

The Buccaneers outscored the Lions 21-0 in the second half en route to the 28-7 win. Marchi finished with 17 completions in 29 attempts for 273 yards and three touchdowns. ETSU’s leading rusher was Quay Holmes, who carried the ball 17 times for 118 yards and a touchdown.

Impact Players

QB Logan MarchiMarchi is in his first year at ETSU, but is the Buccaneers’ starting quarterback after transferring in this offseason from Temple, where he recorded 1,687 passing yards and nine touchdowns in 12 career games.

While he certainly won’t be near the level of Will Grier, Marchi is better than many FCS quarterbacks a Power Five team might see. In Temple’s game at Notre Dame last season, Marchi threw for 245 yards and two touchdowns.

RB Quay Holmes — Holmes’s 118-yard performance against Mars Hill came in his first career college game, as the redshirt freshman sat out the 2017 season. Holmes reportedly impressed ETSU’s coaching staff and it hopes he will be a playmaker in 2018 and beyond.

Game Outlook

It’s East Tennessee State coming to Neyland Stadium for the Vols’ home opener. This shouldn’t be a contest.

ETSU is not Appalachian State or even UMass. This should be a game in which Tennessee gets a large lead and is able to get work for many players en route to a rout.