“Our guys, they’ve done what they’re supposed to do,” Quarles said Monday during his news conference at Greene Stadium. “I was talking to another coach and he mentioned guys were missing meetings, missing practice just for no reason. We’ve not had that. Our guys have done what they’re supposed to do for the most part and I credit them for that. I’m constantly talking about real life, because real life is going to be hard sometimes and you’ve got to finish, whether it’s a job or your marriage or whatever. So I’m proud of our guys for doing that.”
Quarles’ team has had a lot of adversity to overcome. After being picked among the top teams in the Southern Conference, the defending champions have fallen flat in his first year. The Bucs enter Saturday’s 1 p.m. home finale against Western Carolina 1-6 in the SoCon and 3-6 overall.
“I think there’s nobody on our team, nobody on our staff, nobody anywhere, that’s been happy with the season we’ve had,” Quarles said. “It’s been a struggle, no question about it. My message to them is we’ve got to finish. It’s not what anybody wanted, but it’s where we are, this is the hand we’re dealt. We’ve got to finish strong and go out on a high note. I talked last night to our guys about sending these seniors out with a win, sending them out the proper way.”
Taking on a Western Carolina team in what is known as the “Blue Ridge Battle” comes with some added pressure this season. The Catamounts, who come in with a 4-5 record, 2-4 in the SoCon, have the top offense in the league, averaging 506 yards per game.
Throw in the fact that ETSU’s defense has turned into a sieve — the Bucs have allowed an average of 52 points and 589 yards in their past three outings — and Saturday’s game is expected to be a shootout.
“It seems like they’ve had a 70-yard touchdown about every game,” said Quarles, whose team is coming off its bye week. “We’ve had trouble giving up some big plays here recently, so that’ll be important for us to not give up the big play. Make them earn it.”
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