Missing football already? Fear not — The “Hatch Attack” is back.
The Bulldogs are set to begin the 2021 season this Saturday against the ETSU Owls. The game will take place at noon in Johnson City, Tennessee.
Over the past four seasons, the Bulldogs are 3-1 against the Owls. Last season, Samford defeated ETSU in a close 24-17 battle in Birmingham.
This will be the first game for the Bulldogs since Nov. 23, 2019 when the Bulldogs fell to the Auburn Tigers to conclude their 2019 season. And just like that game, the Bulldogs will be playing on a rainy day on a frigid afternoon.
Montrell Washington – Samford RB
Washington will be entering this game just after being named a Hero Sports All-American. His presence in the backfield, along with sophomore running back Jay Stanton, will be essential to the offense while the passing attack is established.
Nathan East – Samford DB
East will be one of the most quintessential members of the Samford defense this season. Last year, he had the second most solo tackles on the team, and will be a huge factor in new defensive coordinator Nick Benedetto’s unit.
Quay Holmes – ETSU RB
Holmes is the greatest weapon on the ETSU offense by a longshot. He led the Southern Conference in all-purpose yards last season (1,905). While the Owls will be experimenting with their quarterback position, Holmes will likely be the centerpiece of the offense.
The Unknown Factors
For a second straight season, the Bulldogs do not have a set starting quarterback. It will be a battle between Chris Oladokun and Liam Welch. While a quarterback is being chosen, the Bulldogs need to establish their offense under new offensive coordinator Derrick Sherman. If the quarterback battle plagues the team like it did last year, another year of offensive struggles will ensue.
The Owls have not two, not three, but four quarterbacks battling for the starting position and there are seemingly no indications of one player starting over another. This game could quite possibly feature three of four quarterbacks, all with different tendencies and strengths.
Keys to the Game
Defense has been a serious issue for the Bulldogs over the past few seasons, which has left the team consistently ranking in the bottom dwellings of the conference. With the addition of their new DC, they will have to establish a solid secondary to prevent being destroyed in the pass game. This contest will be an early indication if defensive woes will continue into this season.
While the Owls figure out their quarterback situation, they must quickly establish a run game with their All-Conference RB Holmes. If they can expose the Bulldog defensive line quickly, then whichever quarterback they choose will have a much easier time picking apart the secondary.