The ETSU Buccaneers football team will host the Samford Bulldogs at William B. Greene Jr. Stadium on Saturday as both teams enter the Southern Conference spring schedule, which was prompted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
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The game (1 p.m. ET start time) will be on Nexstar locally, but if you don’t have that channel or you don’t live locally, anyone in the US can watch Samford vs ETSU football live on ESPN+ right here:
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Samford vs ETSU Preview
The Bulldogs are entering their sixth season under head coach Chris Hatcher. They went 5-7 overall and 4-4 in conference play last season for their first losing campaign since 2010.
“We’ve been here five years and we’ve been to two playoffs in that time, which is the first time that’s ever been done in 25 years at Samford,” Hatcher told Alabama NewsCenter. “Each of the years, we’ve been basically, other than last season, one game out of being the conference champions. We’ve played a lot of close games over the course of that time, so I’m excited.”
Hatcher’s expected to deploy grad students Chris Oladokun and Liam Welch at quarterback this season, as he did in 2019. Last year, Oladokun completed 62.1 percent of his passes for 2,064 yards, 18 touchdowns, and 7 interceptions across all 12 Bulldogs games, adding 642 yards and 8 scores on the ground. Welch saw time in eight contests, completing 53.8 percent of his attempts for 6 touchdowns and 7 picks. He rushed for 160 yards and 4 touchdowns.
“Right now there’s a good chance we have two good quarterbacks, Liam Welch and Chris Oladokun,” Hatcher said, per Alabama NewsCenter. “They potentially have a chance to be all-conference performers for us.”
The Buccaneers went 3-9 overall and 1-7 in SoCon play last year in Randy Sanders’s second season in charge. The year prior, they went 8-4 and 6-2 to share the conference title with the Wofford Terriers and the Furman Paladins.
Sophomore quarterback Tyler Riddell will open the year as the starter under center. He beat out junior-college transfer Brock Landis and Miami Hurricanes transfer Cade Weldon for the starting gig.
Riddell saw limited action across four games in 2019, completing 17 of 33 passes for a touchdown and no picks.
“Just because a guy starts one game doesn’t mean he is the starting quarterback for the whole year,” Sanders said, according to the Johnson City Press. “He’s going to have to continue to play well. I don’t want him playing scared. I don’t want to him looking over his shoulder, but at the same time, they need to play well for us. One game doesn’t guarantee you anything else. I will say that.”
The Buccaneers have managed just one victory in seven tries against Samford.
“Samford always has a talented team on both sides of the ball,” Sanders said, per the Johnson City Press.
He added: “It is a game that we haven’t been able to come out on top these last two years, so we need to find a way to get it done.”