Last week I was unable to get a football preview up, so we’re going for a two-fer this week. Make sure you catch our other football previews so you know what to look for this year when we kick-off on August 31st!
If there is one team that will be a bigger push-over than South Alabama this year, it is Citadel. Winning only 4 games last season, only 2 in the Southern Conference, finishing second-to-last in SoCon play, and getting outscored in the first half by a total of 166-122 on the season, this is not a solid ball club. The only team in the SoCon that Citadel managed to out-perform was Western Carolina, another team we have been known to schedule.
It’s not that having a powder-puff on the schedule is such a bad thing, especially when you look at the schedules of other ACC schools. It just seems like even with your FCS teams, you would try to schedule someone you can at least pretend is a real competitor (kind of like we did to South Alabama last year by saying “well… they’re transitioning to FBS so it isn’t THAT bad.”).
None-the-less, this is what we have. Might as well see what they got. If nothing else, they are probably the most “different” team on the schedule.
In 2009, the Citadel was earning 20 of 37 touchdowns through their passing game and sported a 60% completion rate boasting stars like Andre Roberts who would later be drafted to the Arizona Cardinals. What a difference a few years makes. Last season, the Citadel managed to score 1 touchdown via passing. You read that correctly… 1 single touchdown. They earned an embarrassing 354 yards on the season and had a terrible 45% completion rate.
So how did the Citadel even manage to win 2 SoCon games? Well, playing Western Carolina helped, but they focus on a moderately respectable running game. Last season the Bulldogs ran for 3158 yards averaging 5.25 yards per carry (better than NC State, Tennessee, or UConn last season) and scoring 30 touchdowns. That’s three times the number that NC State had on the ground.
To be fair, it’s not just Citadel. The entire SoCon is seeing a boom in running back performance. What is shocking is the lack of quarterback production. The Bulldogs are averaging just under 5 yards per reception and, as stated, scored only one touchdown. On the season, they only completed 34 passes (less than 3 per game).
WEAK DEFENSE IN TROUBLE
The Citadel has some defensive guns that can get behind your line if you aren’t careful. Chris Billingslea and Derek Douglas were recently noted as two defensive players to watch for the 2012 season. Unfortunately, Douglas suffered from a torn ACL during spring practice that will result in missing the beginning of the 2012 season. Whether he is back or not by September 22nd is still to be determined. The word right now is that he will return “in late September”.
Aside from a few stand-outs, the performance of Citadel last season was less than impressive. Opponents of the Bulldogs completed 65% of their passes averaging 7.3 yards per reception. Mike Glennon last year could have had his way with this team, so this season should be no different. Their defense against the run is slightly better, allowing 1847 yards on the season at 4.10 yards per carry, but they also allowed 19 touchdowns. Missing one of their star defensive linemen for the first part of 2012 mixed with an already mediocre defense against the run and terrible defense against the pass should make for an easy-breezy day in Carter-Finley.