Marky Billson is a Genius

Modest Marky, the host of Tri-Cities Sports NOW

This past Saturday, the first day in which both East Tennessee State and Tennessee won conference football games in 23 months, is a great day for yours truly to dust off the old Dizzy Dean line “It ain’t braggin’ if you can do it.”

Because what I said has been proven right.

At the start of the season Austin Herink should start at quarterback for ETSU. Even though Logan Marchi has the better arm and came from an FBS program, Herink had earned the right to start after three years at the helm.

Marchi, a talent that should not be given up on, however did start the first four games of the season and largely struggled.

Herink is not the only reason ETSU is 6–1 right now. But he is the reason the Bucs beat Furman. He is the reason ETSU wasn’t shut out by Tennessee and the reason the Vols’ didn’t hand the Bucs their worst loss since 1924. Herink is the reason ETSU was able to score on the opening drive of the third quarter when he found Kobe Kelley, a forgotten wide receiver for much of his career at ETSU, twice for the key plays of the scoring drive that put the Bucs ahead of The Citadel.

Herink wasn’t perfect, mind you. He takes more sacks than Marchi, including four against the Bulldogs. One came on a key third down late in the first half that prevented the Bucs from taking the lead.

Austin Herink was asked to do more than hand off to lead ETSU to a comeback victory against The Citadel

But in the end Herink made the plays necessary to win.

The Southern Conference is down this season, which is why ETSU is currently in first place. But despite the hype Quay Holmes and Jacob Saylors both received after rushing for 100 yards each against Gardner-Webb, ETSU has really only shown they can run the ball against weak defenses.

That was proven when The Citadel, who allowed almost six yards a carry coming in to the game, limited the Bucs to only 55 yards rushing.

This team will go as far as Herink will take it. It’s now time for him to be more consistent as ETSU prepares to play its biggest game, arguably, since Randy Moss came to town in 1996.

The Bucs were held to four field goals and outgained in their victory against a 1–4 team. That won’t do against Wofford.

What will do is Tyree Robinson. You know, the one who was called everything from soft to whiny from fans and some media because his head coach slapped him on the helmet during spring practice.

While other media has done their best to forget the incident and didn’t even bother to spell Robinson name right at the moment of occurrence while rushing to the defense of Randy Sanders, I was the one who sought to learn what kind of a person Robinson was.

His former high school coach insisted Robinson was a “great kid.” His play last year indicated he was a coming star.

And after winning the game on Saturday with two interceptions, we can now officially call him such.

Robinson’s late pick six provided the winning points against The Citadel in a 26–23 ETSU victory

There may be better players on defense currently for ETSU. But not many. And after this season it will be Robinson’s defense. Frankly, such an incident could have derailed Robinson’s career. Thankfully it does not appear it has.

I’m proud to have stood by Robinson since the beginning. Many others in the media and fan base did not.

Finally, how about some love for myself and Caleb Calhoun of who spoke of the need for the Tennessee offense to open up.

What’s this? Jarrett Guarantano threw 32 passes against Auburn? Seven more than his previous career high? He even found Eli Wolf?

It’s time for Mad Magazine to replace Alfred E. Newman’s image with Guarantano’s. What, me worry?

You’d think the Tennessee offense thinks it’s 2018 or something.

All of the sudden, the Vols are 3–3. Games against the likes of South Carolina, Missouri, and Vanderbilt appear winnable. And assuming victory against Charlotte, then all U-T would have to do is beat two of those foes and Tennessee would likely go to the Music City Bowl.

Which does not make Tennessee an elite program, as head coach Jeremy Pruitt was trying to say after the game. If Tennessee is an elite program it is because Pruitt drives a 1975 Ford.

But it is a step in the right direction. What victory isn’t?

So this is my “Where Marky was right” segment, reminiscent of Colin Cowherd’s. Or verification that like Mike North, I’m a genius.

Only I bathe, so I’m not “stinking.”

Marky Billson hosts Tri-Cities Sports NOW 12–2 p.m. ET weekdays on 1420 NBC Sports Radio Tri-Cities. Watch his archives here and here.



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