Game review, 2015: Coastal Carolina

That was a wild one…

Links of interest:

Game story, The Post and Courier

“Notes” section, The Post and Courier

Game story, Myrtle Beach Sun-News

Photo gallery, Myrtle Beach Sun-News

Coastal Carolina post-game news conference

Video from WCSC-TV

Video from WCIV-TV

Video of the winning field goal and the immediate aftermath

School release

Post-game notes from The Citadel

Box score

Eric Goins had this to say after the game…

I came back [to] the sideline [after the blocked field goal attempt], and…General Rosa was there…and he said, ‘Hey, you’re gonna have to kick another one.’ And I believed him, because I felt like that was the way the game was going. And he was right.

John Rosa: former college quarterback, current school president, modern-day Nostradamus.

Very random thoughts on the game:

– Coastal Carolina has a nice setup for its varsity sports, including Brooks Stadium. I don’t know exactly how CCU plans on expanding the stadium to 20,000 seats (as part of its move to FBS), but it doesn’t seem unreasonable.

Parking was easy. I just parked in lot “YY”, which was located about a half-mile from the stadium. Shuttles came regularly to take people to the game. I had no issues leaving, either (though I chose to walk back to the parking lot after the game).

– CCU is yet another school (including The Citadel) that believes when it comes to its speaker system, louder is better. In particular, there was a halftime promotional video that featured audio which will surely lead to permanent hearing loss for anyone who was in attendance.

– Not that anyone at Coastal Carolina will (or should) care about my opinion, but I would ditch the “teal” turf. It looks terrible, both in person and on TV.

Like I said, though, they aren’t asking for my opinion.

– Speaking of the ESPN3 broadcast, apparently someone in production thought The Citadel’s starting quarterback was “Dominic” Allen. I watched part of the game when I got home and was disappointed to see that basic error.

I hope it is corrected for next week’s game.

– The analyst for the ESPN3 broadcast was former Boston College and N.C. State head coach Tom O’Brien. He was not the most colorful of “color” analysts, to be sure.

However, he knew what he was talking about, not a big surprise given his excellent coaching career. Some of his nuts-and-bolts discussion was really good; you could even call it refreshing.

I think he could become a very good analyst if he called more games.

– Coastal Carolina’s receivers weren’t exactly the headliners coming into the game, but as a group the CCU wideouts made a number of outstanding catches. The Citadel’s defense gave up way too many big plays yesterday, but you also have to credit the opposition sometimes. The Chanticleers made several “velcro” grabs on Saturday.

– CCU linebacker Alex Scearce is apparently okay after being injured late in the game, which is good to know. I would describe that post-play scene as unnerving.

– The officials drew mixed reviews on Saturday. I wasn’t overly impressed with the Patriot League crew, to be honest.

I thought the spot on Dominique Allen’s fourth-down sneak in the first half was dubious, and they missed a potential pick-6 by Nick Willis in the third quarter (which wasn’t even reviewed, arguably more puzzling than the call on the field).

I didn’t understand the sideline interference penalty either. It’s possible I missed something there, so I’ll give the officials the benefit of the doubt on that one.

– With two interceptions against CCU, The Citadel’s defense now has 19 for the season. Somewhat surprisingly (at least to me), that is “only” fourth-best in school history, behind 1970 (23), 1977 (21), and 1981 (20).

Yes, in 1970 the Bulldogs intercepted 23 passes in 11 games.

– The Citadel rushed for 524 yards on Saturday (6.7 yards per attempt). The Bulldogs carried the ball 78 times.

One reason The Citadel had so many rushes is that the Bulldogs consistently converted third downs (11 for 17). Five of The Citadel’s twelve drives lasted 10 plays or more. The Bulldogs did not have a “three and out” during the contest.

– After a late scoring change (due to a misidentified player), it turns out The Citadel had four 100-yard rushers. Dominique Allen, Tyler Renew, Cam Jackson, and (better to be recognized later than never) Vinny Miller all cracked the century mark.

– Given the total offensive output, and the fact The Citadel won the turnover battle 4-1, it may seem strange that the Bulldogs needed a last-second field goal to win the game.

They did need that kick, though. Why?

  • Missed opportunities on offense: two FGs that went awry (one blocked), a lost fumble, a turnover on downs, and that excruciating sequence at the end of the first half
  • Big plays allowed on defense: CCU had pass plays of 91 (TD), 26 (TD), 17, 47, 16 (TD), 26, 42, 17, 16, and 33 yards; the Chanticleers also had rushing plays of 44 (TD), 22, 17, and 16 yards (TD)

– The end-of-half sequence I mentioned above should serve as a useful “teaching moment” going forward. It could have dearly cost the Bulldogs to miss out on a potential field goal.

To give the players and coaches credit, they regained the lost momentum immediately by scoring on the first possession of the second half.

Then Coastal scored on its first possession of the second half…and then The Citadel responded (with that big Cam Jackson run)…and then…

It was that kind of game.

– My best guess is that about half the crowd at Brooks Stadium on Saturday wore light blue. It was an impressive turnout.

Announced attendance for The Citadel-Coastal Carolina: 6,751.

Attendance for the other seven FCS playoff games this weekend: 14,575 (at Montana); 7,062 (Northern Iowa); 4,888 (Chattanooga); 4,395 (William & Mary); 3,303 (New Hampshire); 3,098 (Sam Houston State); 997 (Dayton).

It isn’t easy to draw fans for the post-Thanksgiving FCS playoff games, but having less than 1,000 in the stands for Western Illinois-Dayton is not good.

Speaking of attendance, here is the link to the Charleston Southern ticket office website:


There likely won’t be any tickets available for The Citadel to sell (outside of about 700ish tickets that will be offered to the top 100-120 donors), so if you want to go to the game, you need to go to the CSU website.

You probably need to get them as soon as they become available at 10 am ET on Monday (November 30). Tickets will be at a premium because of the lack of seats (and space) at Buccaneer Field.

In the 2014 game played between the two teams, the announced attendance was 7,954; in actuality, there were probably about 5,500 people there.

I would anticipate the potential for a much bigger crowd this Saturday, but the truth is there really isn’t space for a lot more fans. That is certainly true for seated spectators. CSU only has around 4,000 “permanent seats”.

I’ll have a preview for that matchup later in the week.

Here are some (really bad) pictures I took on Saturday, after I managed to get my camera to work again. At least, as much as it ever works.

The game photos are in sequential order. I’ve annotated a few of them.


2015 Football, Game 12: The Citadel vs. Coastal Carolina

The Citadel at Coastal Carolina, to be played in Conway, South Carolina, at Brooks Stadium, with kickoff at 2:00 pm ET on Saturday, November 28. The game will not be televised.

The contest will be streamed on, with Drew Fellios providing play-by-play and Tom O’Brien supplying the analysis.

The game can be heard on radio via the various affiliates of The Citadel Sports Network. WQNT-1450 AM [audio link], originating in Charleston, will be the flagship station. WQNT will have a two-hour pregame show prior to each home football game. 

Mike Legg (the “Voice of the Bulldogs”) will call the action alongside analyst Lee Glaze. Jay Harper will report from the sidelines; he will host the first hour of the pregame show as well.

It is also possible to listen to the action with a smartphone, using a TuneIn Radio application.

Links of interest:

– “Back to playoff business” for The Citadel

– Game notes from The Citadel and Coastal Carolina

SoCon weekly release

Big South weekly release

Joe Moglia on the Big South teleconference

Mike Houston’s 11/24 press conference (with comments from Mitchell Jeter, Tyler Renew, and Joe Crochet)

Notes on The Citadel-Coastal Carolina from the Myrtle Beach Sun-News

“Bulldogs’ offense is rolling in Mike Houston’s second year at helm”, from the Myrtle Beach Sun-News

Tyler Renew is the SoCon offensive player of the week

– Things haven’t always been easy for Renew

SoCon media awards

SoCon coaches’ awards

FCS Coaches’ Poll

– STATS preview of The Citadel-Coastal Carolina

– Ticket website

This is a preview I really didn’t expect to be writing when the season began, to be honest. However, I’m happy to stop eating turkey and dressing for a few minutes in order to scribble a few paragraphs about a previously unscheduled football game.

One big key to this game for The Citadel is for its players and coaches to be emotionally and mentally prepared to play. It probably won’t be easy to come down from the high that was winning at South Carolina, but the Bulldogs will have no chance against Coastal Carolina if their collective mentality is still focused on last Saturday.

One thing is for sure: Coastal Carolina won’t be too impressed by what happened in Columbia last week. If you had any doubts about that, let Chanticleers junior linebacker Alex Scearce put them to rest:

I know they definitely have some confidence after beating big, bad South Carolina, but you watch the game and South Carolina had a few good drives, but it didn’t seem like some of them wanted to be there. It looked like The Citadel wanted it more than they did, so that’s definitely the reason they came out on top. I think they’re going to be real confident when they come in here thinking they can whup up on us physically, but I think this year we’ve been able to handle it OK between the tackles, especially towards the end of the season. So I think it’s going to be a challenging game for them as well.

He doesn’t think the Gamecocks tried very hard, and figures that’s the only reason The Citadel won. Okay then.

In my preview for last year’s regular season game between the two schools, I wrote the following:

Coastal Carolina may not have hired Joe Moglia because it has the FBS in its sights. However, that is the perception in certain circles.

[In this article] Moglia was reported to have said that CCU had only achieved 75% of his vision. Not everyone is sure what the remaining 25% of his vision would be.

Less than 12 months later, Coastal Carolina accepted an invitation to join the Sun Belt and move to the FBS.

Because of that, this will be the last time CCU participates in the FCS playoffs. The two seasons to follow (2016 and 2017) will be “transitional” campaigns, with the Chanticleers ineligible for postseason play. Coastal Carolina will begin playing Sun Belt teams on a regular basis in 2017.

This is the second meeting between Coastal Carolina and The Citadel. It will likely also be the two schools’ last matchup on the gridiron for the foreseeable future. That is due to a situation very similar to the one The Citadel now has with Georgia Southern, which I described earlier this season in my preview of the GSU game:

…if Georgia Southern wants to schedule The Citadel again, the military college is going to demand a lot more cash. $175,000 isn’t going to be nearly enough; The Citadel is going to want more than twice that amount of money. Maybe more than three times that amount of money.

In a way, it illustrates a problem Georgia Southern now has as an FBS member when it comes to scheduling home games. Schools that pay FCS schools big bucks for a “guarantee game” can afford to make those payments, because they have large stadiums and huge budgets. That isn’t the case for the folks in Statesboro.

Georgia Southern may have expanded Paulson Stadium, but 25,000 seats is a far cry from the likes of the facilities at Florida State, or South Carolina, or even North Carolina (opponents of The Citadel last year, this year, and next year).

Mike Houston explained his position on the issue in the press conference that preceded the game against Georgia Southern:

You are playing an FBS program that has more resources and scholarships than we have. And if you are playing those kinds of games, there needs to be financial restitution that matches that.

Jim Senter appears to be on the same page as his head football coach. The Citadel isn’t going to play anyone for less than a significant guarantee, something schools with smaller fan bases and/or stadia will not be able to provide.

Coastal Carolina has plans to expand Brooks Stadium to 20,000 seats, smaller than Paulson Stadium.

As for Joe Moglia, it will be interesting to see what he does after the season is over. Moglia is 66 years old; he will be 67 by the time the 2016 season starts.

If he intends to pursue a more high-profile coaching job, it may be now or never. Moglia has been mentioned in various quarters as a potential candidate at Syracuse, though most of those reports originated from a speculative column by Sports Illustrated‘s Pete Thamel (followed up by a Thayer Evans tweet).

Another school that might give Moglia a look is Rutgers, a possibility first broached by college football reporter Bruce Feldman. To me, that one makes sense, though there are a couple of problems with Moglia getting the Rutgers job: A) it isn’t technically open yet; B) there is no more dysfunctional department of athletics in all of major-college sports.

The sections that follow include statistics for the full season for both Coastal Carolina and The Citadel. Each school has played 11 games.

Coastal Carolina is 9-2, with home wins over Western Illinois (34-27), Bryant (31-17), Alabama A&M (55-0), Presbyterian (24-17), Gardner-Webb (46-0), and Kennesaw State (45-13); the Chanticleers have road victories over Furman (38-35), South Carolina State (41-14), and Monmouth (23-20). CCU has lost at Charleston Southern (35-27) and at Liberty (24-21).

The Citadel is 8-3, with home wins over Davidson (69-0), Western Carolina (28-10), Wofford (39-12), Mercer (21-19), and VMI (35-14); the Bulldogs have won on the road at Samford (44-25), Furman (38-17), and South Carolina (23-22). The Citadel’s three losses came at Georgia Southern (48-13), versus Charleston Southern (33-20), and at Chattanooga (31-23).

Coastal Carolina’s offense has thrown the ball 337 times, with 14 other would-be pass play attempts resulting in sacks. Not counting those sacks, the Chanticleers have rushed 401 times; thus, CCU has passed the ball (or attempted to pass) on 46.7% of its offensive plays from scrimmage.

Passing yardage accounts for 55.3% of Coastal Carolina’s total offense (with sack yardage removed from the total). CCU averages 7.69 yards per pass attempt (again, with sacks/yardage taken into account). That yards per attempt number is comparable to Chattanooga among SoCon teams.

Coastal Carolina averages 34.8 points and 443.8 yards per game, with an average of 6.5 yards per play. CCU would have led the SoCon in two of those three categories (Samford averaged 479.7 yards of total offense per game).

Defensively, The Citadel has allowed 21.0 points and 350.5 yards per game, allowing 5.4 yards per play.

CCU is averaging 5.1 yards per rush, gaining 192.2 yards per game on the ground. The Bulldogs have allowed 156.5 yards per contest (4.4 yards per play).

The Chanticleers have completed passes at a 65.9% clip, with 19 TDs against just 5 interceptions. CCU’s pass efficiency rating ranks 13th in all of FCS.

The Citadel is 24th nationally in defensive pass efficiency, having allowed 7 pass TDs while intercepting 17 errant tosses. The Bulldogs’ opponents have a completion percentage for the season of 58.8%.

Coastal Carolina has converted 42.8% of its third-down attempts, which ranks 33rd nationally. The Citadel has allowed opponents to pick up 36.2% of third down tries (42nd in FCS).

The FCS leader in defensive pass efficiency and defensive third-down conversion rate, by the way, is still South Carolina State, as has been the case for the past month.

CCU has gone for it on fourth down fifteen times, picking up a first down on nine of those attempts. On defense, The Citadel has given up fourteen conversions in twenty-two opponent tries.

Coastal Carolina’s defense is allowing 18.2 points per game (which would lead the SoCon). CCU has given up 403.6 yards per game, with an average of 5.7 yards allowed per play. Both of those statistics would be in the middle of the pack in the SoCon.

The Citadel is averaging 32.1 points and 423.3 yards per game, gaining 6.2 yards per play.

CCU is allowing 4.2 yards per rush (168.4 yards per game). The Chanticleers have allowed 12 TDs through the air while intercepting 6 passes, and rank in the bottom half of FCS in terms of defensive pass efficiency.

The Citadel’s offense averages 344.7 yards per game (2nd nationally), gaining 5.8 yards per carry. The Bulldogs obviously don’t throw the football that often, though they have generally been effective when they have (33rd nationally in offensive pass efficiency, with 5 TD passes against 4 interceptions).

The Citadel remains second nationally in rushing offense, behind Cal Poly.

The Bulldogs have an offensive third-down conversion rate of 49.3%, which is 6th-best in FCS. Coastal Carolina has allowed third down conversions at a 38.7% rate.

The Citadel is 6 for 16 in fourth-down tries, one of the poorer rates in the country, while CCU opponents are only 9-24 converting fourth-down attempts (24th nationally). Sharp-eyed readers may notice that The Citadel converts fourth downs at the exact same rate as CCU opponents (37.5%).

Coastal Carolina’s offense has a 60.8% Red Zone TD rate. The Bulldogs have a defensive Red Zone TD rate of 51.4%. Of the Chanticleers’ 31 Red Zone TDs, 21 have been via the rush.

CCU opponents have a Red Zone TD rate of 70.0%. The Citadel’s offense has a Red Zone TD rate of 60.9%. Of the 28 touchdowns the Bulldogs have scored on Red Zone possessions, 26 have been rushing TDs.

The Citadel is +6 in turnover margin (gained 25, lost 19). Coastal Carolina’s turnover margin is +2 (gained 13, lost 11).

Coastal Carolina is 16 for 21 on field goal attempts (33-33 on PATs). The Citadel is 12 for 14 on FG tries (39-40 PATs).

The Citadel has a net punting average of 36.1; CCU’s is 36.3.

The Bulldogs have 28 touchbacks on 67 kickoffs, while the Chanticleers have 7 touchbacks on 72 kickoffs (though the net average favors CCU).

Coastal Carolina has 2 kickoff return TDs this season and led the Big South in return yardage. The Citadel has averaged slightly more yards per return than the Chanticleers, but has not returned any kicks for a score.

CCU has averaged an excellent 11.7 yards per punt return. The Citadel ranked last in the SoCon in that statistic.

Coastal Carolina has averaged only 27:42 in time of possession per game. The Bulldogs have controlled the clock more, with a per-game TOP average of 31:25.

The Chanticleers are averaging 68.4 offensive plays from scrimmage per game, with a 2.47 plays-per-minute rate, which is not in Samford territory but is still a fairly fast pace. The Citadel is averaging 68.2 plays per game, but with a plays-per-minute rate of 2.17.

Coastal Carolina is averaging 5.8 penalties per game (54.1 penalty yards per contest). Opponents of the Chanticleers are called for slightly more penalties (6.1 per contest, 56.5 penalty yards/game).

The Citadel has been called for 6 penalties per game (50.7 penalty yards per contest). As fans of the Bulldogs know, opponents of The Citadel have largely been penalty-free, particularly in SoCon play. For the season, Bulldog opponents have been flagged 4.7 times per contest (just 36.4 penalty yards per game).

During his press conference on Tuesday, Mike Houston was asked to compare Coastal Carolina’s offense to those of other teams the Bulldogs have faced. He referenced Western Carolina, a team with a balanced (but potentially explosive) offense under the direction of a talented, experienced dual-threat QB.

Alex Ross (6’1″, 205 lbs.) is a native of Alpharetta, Georgia, who has started 40 games for the Chanticleers at quarterback. This season, Ross is completing 66.7% of his passes (8.2 yards per attempt), with 18 TD throws against just 5 interceptions.

Ross has been the all-conference QB in the Big South for three consecutive seasons. In the game last year at Johnson Hagood Stadium, he was 24-32 for 263 yards and a TD. He also rushed for 58 yards in that contest, an example of his mobility.

De’Angelo Henderson (5’8″, 205 lbs.) was named the Big South offensive player of the year earlier this week. The resident of Summerville has rushed for 1,245 yards and 15 touchdowns this season, averaging 6.1 yards per carry.

Henderson rushed for 88 yards and a TD versus The Citadel last season. He can also catch the ball, as he is the Chanticleers’ second-leading receiver.

Coastal Carolina’s projected starters on the offensive line average 6’3″, 300 lbs. Right guard Sam Ekwonike (6’2″, 350 lbs.) is the biggest member of the group; he is a first-team all-league performer, as is left tackle Voghens Larrieux (6’5″, 290 lbs.).

Right tackle Chase Tidwell (6’5″, 275 lbs.) is a second-team All-Big South pick. Tidwell started his collegiate career as a baseball player at Charleston Southern; he had never been on the field during a high school or college football game until the Chanticleers’ season opener this year at Furman.

Bruce Mapp (6’0″, 210 lbs.) is a first-team all-conference selection who leads CCU in receptions (47) and TD catches (6). He had a big game last year against the Bulldogs, catching 10 passes for 108 yards and a TD.

Wideout Chris Jones (5’11”, 170 lbs.) and slot receiver Tyrell Blanks (5’11”, 165 lbs.) have combined for seven touchdown receptions.

Coastal Carolina generally operates a 4-2-5 defense, but as always, formations can change when teams defend the triple option.

Defensive tackle Jabari Bothwell (5’11”, 290 lbs.) played last year for Coastal Carolina after transferring from Western Michigan. This season, Bothwell made first-team All-Big South.

He has 8.5 tackles for loss among his 64 stops in 2015. Against Kennesaw State (which runs the triple option), Bothwell had 1.5 sacks, 8 tackles (including 2.5 for loss), and blocked a field goal.

Both of CCU’s starting defensive ends were second-team all-league picks. Roderick Holder (6’1″, 235 lbs.) has 4.5 sacks and 11 tackles for loss, while Calvin Hollenhorst (6’3″, 235 lbs.) made the conference’s second-team unit for the third consecutive season despite missing three games with an injury.

The aforementioned Alex Scearce (6’3″, 220 lbs.) also made second-team All-Big South. Scearce leads the Chanticleers in tackles with 70.

Coastal Carolina has injury issues in the secondary. Ray Lewis III (5’9″, 195 lbs.) is listed as a projected starter at cornerback on the two-deep; it would be the first career start for the son of former Baltimore Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis.

CCU should have no concerns at the other corner spot, however, as Kamron Summers (5’11”, 185 lbs.) has started 30 consecutive games for the Chanticleers. Summers leads the team in pass breakups, with six.

Placekicker Ryan Granger (5’11”, 175 lbs.) was named All-Big South after making 15 of 19 field goals this season, with a long of 47. Granger, who has not missed a PAT this year (33-33), scored a TD on a fake field goal against Presbyterian.

Masamitsu Ishibashi (5’10”, 170 lbs.) is CCU’s kickoff specialist. He has 7 touchbacks on 69 kickoffs.

Evan Rabon (6’0″, 150 lbs.) is averaging 36.5 yards per punt. Thirteen of his thirty-one boots have landed inside the 20. None of his punts have resulted in a touchback.

The holder for Coastal Carolina is Tyler Keane (5’9″, 185 lbs.). Keane has occasionally run two-point plays from his position. The long snapper is freshman Connor Kubala (6’1″, 225 lbs.).

Kickoff returner Devin Brown (5’8″, 170 lbs.) is a dangerous weapon for the Chanticleers. Brown, who was named the Big South’s special teams player of the year, has returned two kickoffs for TDs this season. The junior has five such returns in his career.

Chris Jones is an excellent punt returner, averaging 11.5 yards per return (with a long of 64).

Odds and ends:

– There are 39 players from South Carolina on the Chanticleers’ roster. Other states represented: Florida (15), Georgia (14), North Carolina (8), Maryland (7), New Jersey (6), Pennsylvania (5), Virginia (4), Connecticut (3), California (3), Massachusetts (2), and one each from Texas, New York, Alabama, Mississippi, Illinois, Delaware, New Hampshire, and Vermont. There is also one player from Washington, DC, and another from Rome, Italy (reserve tight end Lorenzo D’Angelo).

– Of the eighteen players on the Chanticleers’ roster who began their careers at junior colleges or other four-year schools, seven are listed as starters on this week’s two-deep.

– Coastal Carolina installed artificial turf at Brooks Stadium prior to the beginning of this season. The color of the surface is teal.

– CCU last played at Liberty on a Thursday night, so the Chanticleers have had two extra days to prepare for this week’s game. Of course, that is mitigated to an extent by Coastal Carolina not knowing its opponent until Sunday.

– Per one source that deals in such matters, Coastal Carolina is a 1-point favorite over The Citadel. The over/under is 57 (which, coincidentally, was also the over/under for the Bulldogs’ game against South Carolina).

Other lines for FCS playoff games: Chattanooga is a 9.5-point favorite over Fordham; Western Illinois is a 17.5-point favorite at Dayton; South Dakota State is a 3-point favorite at Montana; Southern Utah is a 1-point favorite at Sam Houston State; William & Mary is a 22-point favorite over Duquesne; New Hampshire is an 11-point favorite over Colgate; and Northern Iowa is a 19.5-point favorite over Eastern Illinois.

– Among FCS teams, The Citadel is 8th in this week’s Massey Ratings. Other FCS ratings of note: Charleston Southern, 9th; Chattanooga, 15th; Coastal Carolina, 20th; Fordham, 21st.

The top 5 in the Massey Ratings are (in order) Illinois State, North Dakota State, Jacksonville State, Dartmouth, and South Dakota State. Western Carolina is 24th; the Catamounts are ranked higher than one of the at-large teams (Eastern Illinois, which is 25th).

– The weather forecast for Saturday in Conway, according to the National Weather Service: sunny, with a high around 72 degrees.

– Last season, Coastal Carolina hosted a playoff game against Richmond. Attendance for that matchup was 5,601. The game was played on the second Saturday after Thanksgiving.

In 2013, CCU hosted Bethune-Cookman at Brooks Stadium on the Saturday after Thanksgiving, and drew 3,007.

I’m guessing there will be more people in the stands this Saturday. The Citadel sold out its ticket allotment of 1,500 by noon on Tuesday.

As of this writing (Thursday night), there were still tickets available from Coastal Carolina: Link

– It appears that many Bulldog fans will be parking in lot “YY”: parking map

That lot is about a half-mile from the stadium, but shuttles will be available.

I’m a bit worried by the current Bulldogs’ lack of postseason experience (particularly when compared to Coastal Carolina), but that concern is largely alleviated by the wealth of successful playoff experience shared by The Citadel’s coaching staff. Still, it’s going to be a little different for the players. Once kickoff rolls around, though, I suspect it won’t matter all that much.

I believe the Bulldogs will be able to move the ball on CCU’s defense. It will be important to finish off long drives with touchdowns, though. That means avoiding fumbles and costly penalties, and making it happen in the red zone.

Dual-threat QBs have given the Bulldogs problems in the past (including last season against the Chanticleers). This year, the defense has done a better job limiting explosive plays, and a really good job forcing turnovers.

However, The Citadel’s D has only come up with one turnover in the past two games. To win this game, Bulldog defenders need to return to their ball-hawking ways.

I’m a little nervous about special teams this week. Devin Brown is a dynamic kickoff returner, and punt return specialist Chris Jones is no slouch either.

The Citadel managed to survive the South Carolina game without giving up a big return, but it was touch-and-go at times. That has to improve against CCU.

I think a large contingent of Bulldog supporters will be in Conway this Saturday. They’re probably going to witness a good, tight ballgame.

I hope the fans clad in light blue go home happy.

Game review, 2015: South Carolina

So that happened…

Links of interest (a comprehensive, but by no means complete, list):

Game story, The Post and Courier

Game photos, from The State

Video from WCSC-TV, including interviews with Mike Houston, Eric Goins, Dominique Allen, Tyler Renew, Mitchell Jeter, and Mark Thomas

Video from WCIV-TV

Video from WCBD-TV

Video from WLTX-TV

The guys on the 1990 team also enjoyed this victory over South Carolina

Did you know Tyler Renew once sold peanuts at Williams-Brice Stadium?

No, seriously, Renew sold peanuts; trust me (video)

Renew’s 4th-quarter TD run, with no peanuts involved (video)

This post-game celebration by the team is apparently called a “turn-up” (video)

Mike Houston’s post-game locker room speech, and more celebrating (video)

Another celebration video (longform); same scene, featuring very happy offensive coordinator Brent Thompson (video)

AP story on The Citadel’s win over the Gamecocks

ESPN highlights package of the game (video)

Clip from Mike Houston’s halftime speech (video)

Paul Finebaum’s post-game interview with Mike Houston (video)

Mike Houston, post-game [great and well-deserved “what did you just say?” look from his son just after the 2:00 mark] (video)

South Carolina interim head coach Shawn Elliott, post-game (video)

Game highlights package from the school (video)

Radio calls by Mike Legg of key late-game plays

“Sacrificial Dog”: “Consider The Citadel game as a cupcake semi-final…”

“We lost. I know we lost…Yes. It’s The Citadel. How we lose to The Citadel?”

Post-game notes package

Box score

Links of interest, playoff edition:

Bulldogs are “built for a post-season run”

FCS playoff bracket

The Citadel to play at Coastal Carolina in the first round

Video from WCSC-TV, including interviews with Mike Houston, Sam Frye, and James Riley

Video from WCIV-TV

Tickets being sold through The Citadel’s ticket office; also available through CCU

And he is short! Short of the first down! And The Citadel Bulldogs are going to win the football game!

Wildly random thoughts on the victory over South Carolina:

– For you triple option groupies (and you know who you are), the game-winning touchdown run by Tyler Renew came after an audible by Dominique Allen. According to Allen, the original play call was for an inside veer, but when the Gamecocks “bumped down to a bear front”, he switched to an outside veer.

Good decision.

– Don’t let some upset Gamecock fan try to tell you they got “cheated by the refs” on the non-play at the end of the game. Well, a few fans may whine anyway, but they should get no sympathy.

On replay, the whistle can clearly be heard before Pharoh Cooper even catches the pass from Perry Orth, and multiple individuals on both teams had stopped playing by that point. The call was also correct, as the South Carolina slot receiver on the right side of the formation was obviously not set before the snap.

You could also make an argument that at least two other Gamecocks didn’t get set before the center snapped the ball to Orth.

The delay in announcing the call, which I admit just about drove me crazy, was simply a case of the officials trying to determine how much time should be put on the game clock after the mandatory 10-second runoff. (Incidentally, they got it exactly right.)

– Apparently the SEC Network has realllllllllly long commercial breaks. The game took 3:19, despite the fact The Citadel only threw three passes.

– Did you know there is a large building at the State Fairgrounds named after a former Bulldog football great? Link

– Per South Carolina’s post-game notes, the Gamecocks had won 22 straight non-conference home games before losing to The Citadel on Saturday.

Of course, those notes also mistakenly state that South Carolina has “wins in seven-straight contests” against the Bulldogs. In actuality, The Citadel has won two of the last three matchups.

– The Citadel rushed for more yards against South Carolina (350) than it had averaged per game prior to facing the Gamecocks (343.7).

– In 1990, The Citadel had 396 total yards in a victory over the Gamecocks. In 2015, The Citadel had 387 total yards in a victory over the Gamecocks.

And in 1950, The Citadel had…118 total yards in a victory over the Gamecocks. Of course, the Bulldogs blocked two punts for TDs in that one. Special teams, baby.

The Citadel only committed one turnover in those three games — combined.

That came in the third quarter of the 1990 game, when the Bulldogs lost a fumble. South Carolina fumbled it right back to The Citadel two plays later.

– The Citadel now has four victories in its history over SEC opponents. The previous three came in 1962 (against Vanderbilt), 1979 (Vanderbilt again), and 1992 (Arkansas).

– “Tyler Renew used to sell peanuts at Williams-Brice Stadium” is this year’s “Jerome Bettis is from Detroit”, as far as storylines involving The Citadel are concerned.

– Your guess is as good as mine as to what South Carolina hoped to accomplish on that two-point conversion lateral to offensive lineman Brandon Shell. Shy Phillips did a good job making the tackle, which was akin to chopping down a giant redwood.

– The Citadel’s defense held the Gamecocks to 2.9 yards per carry, a major factor in the Bulldogs’ victory. Tevin Floyd and James Riley tied for the team lead in tackles on the day, with seven each.

All seven of Riley’s tackles were recorded as solo stops. The last of those came on a 4th-and-10, with Riley tackling Brandon Wilds two yards short of the first down the Gamecocks had to have.

– Will Vanvick had a fine day punting, saving his best effort for last, a 36-yarder downed on the Gamecocks 3-yard line late in the game. Aron Spann also should be credited with making a nice play to down the ball.

– Eric Goins also had a memorable afternoon, with a career-long field goal of 48 yards and a tackle on one of his kickoffs. That may have been a touchdown-saving stop, too.

I held my breath on The Citadel’s kickoffs, as several times it appeared South Carolina was very close to breaking a long gainer. The Bulldogs need to work on that this week as they get ready for the playoffs.

Ah yes, the playoffs.

I watched the selection show. It wasn’t one of ESPN’s smoothest efforts; it included a reference to “College of Charleston Southern” and another announcer confusing Western Illinois with Western Carolina.

However, the actual bracket was even rougher. I think the selection committee did a poor job.

I’m glad The Citadel is in the tournament, obviously, but I am disappointed in the regionalization of what is supposed to be a national tournament. I don’t necessarily expect teams to be sent across the country on a regular basis, but the committee overdosed on rematches this season.

It is a disservice to The Citadel, Coastal Carolina, and Charleston Southern to play a three-team mini-tourney right off the bat, with those teams already playing each other during the regular season. The committee set up multiple potential second-round rematches besides that one, including possible meetings between Richmond and William & Mary, Chattanooga and Jacksonville State, Western Illinois and Illinois State, and Montana and North Dakota State.

Would it have been so terrible to flip The Citadel and Duquesne, with the Bulldogs playing the Tribe and the Chanticleers hosting the Dukes? Or to switch CCU and Chattanooga in the bracket?

Why does Colgate and New Hampshire have to play each other in the first round, after playing earlier in the season? That isn’t supposed to happen, and it really shouldn’t happen.

I was also puzzled by the inclusion of 6-5 Western Illinois in the field (one of those five losses came to Coastal Carolina, by the way). Not only is WIU in the playoffs, it will play non-scholarship Dayton in the first round — a draw that would have been desired by almost every other team playing in the tournament’s first round.

A cynic might suggest Western Illinois is in the tournament instead of North Dakota or Towson because it is close enough to Dayton that the team can be bused to the game, rather than having to fly (and costing the NCAA more money).

It also appears the committee wanted to avoid having a final featuring teams from one conference (as was the case last year). That can be the only reason all five MVFC teams are on the same side of the bracket.

At any rate, The Citadel has a game on Saturday in Conway. Making sure the team is mentally and emotionally prepared for that contest after beating the Gamecocks is going to be a challenge for the coaching staff.

It’s a problem, albeit a nice problem to have.

It better not be a problem for the fan base. I know people have made plans in advance for Thanksgiving weekend, but playoff bids don’t come along for The Citadel every year, and this team certainly deserves all the support it can get. There needs to be plenty of light blue in Brooks Stadium when the Bulldogs take the field.

I think there will be.

Get your tickets early, though. Brooks Stadium currently has a seating capacity of under 10,000.

I’ll have a preview post for the Coastal Carolina game later in the week. I am not going to have a lot of time to do it, but I’ll figure something out.

This week’s review is almost completely picture-free. After almost a decade of taking mostly bad pictures, my camera more or less died in the first quarter on Saturday. That may be a blessing. I’ll gladly trade the demise of an old, mediocre camera for a victory over the Gamecocks.

I will include one shot I took with my cellphone, though. I was quick to snap it, and I had to be, as South Carolina rather amusingly “wiped” its scoreboard only a few seconds after the game was over.

The game happened, though. Yes, it certainly did.

scoreboard TC-SC


2015 Football, Game 11: The Citadel vs. South Carolina

The Citadel at South Carolina, to be played in Columbia, South Carolina, at Williams-Brice Stadium, with kickoff at 12:00 pm ET on Saturday, November 21. The game will be televised on the SEC Network [alternate feed], with play-by-play from Taylor Zarzour, analysis by Charles Arbuckle, and reporting from Paul Finebaum.

The game can be heard on radio via the various affiliates of The Citadel Sports Network. WQNT-1450 AM [audio link], originating in Charleston, will be the flagship station. WQNT will have a two-hour pregame show prior to each home football game. 

Mike Legg (the “Voice of the Bulldogs”) will call the action alongside analyst Lee Glaze. Jay Harper will report from the sidelines; he will host the first hour of the pregame show as well.

It is also possible to listen to the action with a smartphone, using a TuneIn Radio application.

Links of interest:

– The Citadel confident in its playoff résumé

– 25 years later, The Citadel’s upset of South Carolina still resonates

– Game notes from The Citadel and South Carolina

SoCon weekly release

SEC weekly release

Mike Houston on the SoCon teleconference

Shawn Elliott discusses The Citadel (video)

– Gamecocks have reason to be wary of The Citadel

– South Carolina defensive coordinator Jon Hoke discusses The Citadel’s triple option (video)

Mike Houston’s 11/17 press conference (with comments from Mitchell Jeter and Tyler Renew)

The Mike Houston Show (video from his radio show)

– Preview of The Citadel-Chattanooga from The State (video)

– Everette Sands coaches against his alma mater on Saturday (with video)

– Triple option challenges South Carolina’s defense

– Quinlan Washington and Eric Goins added to “watch lists”

FCS Coaches’ Poll

Besides being televised on an alternate feed of SEC Network (611-1 on DirecTV, and available on most cable/satellite systems), the game between The Citadel and South Carolina will also be the site of the “SEC Nation” pregame show. The on-air crew will include Joe Tessitore, Marcus Spears, Tim Tebow, and Paul Finebaum.

In addition to his duties on the pregame show, Finebaum will also be the SEC Network’s sideline reporter for the football game that follows. It will be the first time Finebaum has assumed that role:

“I thought it’d be fun, a non-traditional approach. I imagine it’ll mostly be chatter about next week [when the Gamecocks host No. 1-ranked Clemson].”

Essentially, then, he won’t be paying attention to the game on the field. I find that extremely disappointing, both from Finebaum and ESPN.

The last time The Citadel played South Carolina, in 2011, I wrote about a great gridiron victory by the Bulldogs over the Gamecocks. I didn’t write about the 1990 game, though. Instead, I focused on the 1950 clash, which was played at Johnson Hagood Stadium and may have been an even bigger upset.


Instead of doing a copy/paste job, I’ll just link that year’s preview post. The first half of the post is a story on that 1950 contest, won by The Citadel 19-7: Link

Okay, let’s talk about the FCS playoffs…

First, the basics. Twenty-four teams will make the playoffs; ten will get automatic bids, fourteen will be at-large selections.

Sixteen of those teams play in the first round. The eight teams that advance from that group play eight “seeded” teams in the second round (in other words, those seeded teams get byes; they also will be the automatic host teams for the second round unless something strange happens).

From there, teams advance to the quarterfinals, semifinals, and finals. The title game will be played January 9, 2016, in Frisco, Texas.

Three conferences do not get automatic bids. The Ivy League doesn’t participate in postseason football action, while the SWAC and MEAC champs will play in the new Celebration Bowl instead.

However, one caveat: SWAC and MEAC teams can receive at-large bids. A team could finish 2nd in the MEAC, for example, and go to the FCS playoffs, while the champion of that league plays in the Celebration Bowl.

This year, that could be an issue, at least in the MEAC. I’ll get to that later.

Here are the leagues that get automatic bids, and the teams that have clinched bids so far:

Patriot League – Colgate
Ohio Valley – Jacksonville State
Pioneer League – Dayton
Southern – Chattanooga
Southland – McNeese State
Big South – Charleston Southern
Big Sky
Missouri Valley

The Northeast Conference title will be decided in a winner-take-all game between St. Francis (PA) and Duquesne. No other school in that league will get a bid.

The other three leagues that haven’t had auto-bids decided yet will have multiple teams in the field.

Here are the teams that are “locks”. No matter what happens Saturday, these teams will have their names called on Selection Sunday:

Colgate, Fordham, Jacksonville State, Dayton, Chattanooga, McNeese State, Charleston Southern, Coastal Carolina, William & Mary, James Madison, North Dakota State, South Dakota State, Illinois State, Portland State

The winner of St. Francis-Duquesne also gets in, obviously, so that’s fifteen teams in the field. There will be nine more that make it. Here, in roughly the order I think they would be in if the season ended today, are the contenders for those nine spots. I believe there are sixteen teams that still have a shot:

Southern Utah
Sam Houston State
Northern Iowa
Northern Arizona
Eastern Washington
The Citadel
North Dakota
Central Arkansas
Eastern Kentucky
Eastern Illinois
New Hampshire

Four of these teams (Southern Utah, Montana, Northern Arizona, and Richmond) could grab auto-bids. The latter three have to win and hope other results go their way; Southern Utah just has to win its game to be the outright Big Sky champion.

Now, I’m going to list the games Bulldog fans should be following on Saturday, including times (ET), lines, and TV/streaming options, with teams to pull for (if you root for The Citadel) mentioned in bold.

The matchups are (very) roughly in order of importance, but don’t make too much of that. There aren’t any absolute must-wins (or losses) on the board as far as The Citadel is concerned, and you could also make an argument in two of these matchups that it would be better if the other team won the game.

  • Villanova-James Madison, noon, MadiZONE streaming video (on JMU’s website); James Madison favored by 6 points
  • William & Mary-Richmond, noon, CSN-MidAtlantic/SNY; William & Mary favored by 4 points
  • North Dakota-Cal Poly, 9:05pm, Big Sky Digital Network; Cal Poly favored by 7 points
  • Florida A&M vs. Bethune-Cookman (in Orlando), 2:30pm, ESPN Classic; Bethune-Cookman favored by 19 points
  • Montana-Montana State, 2:10pm, Root-Southwest/Rocky Mountain/Northwest; Montana favored by 7 points
  • Southern Illinois-Northern Iowa, 5:00 pm, ESPN3; Northern Iowa favored by 11 points
  • Northern Arizona-Southern Utah, 5:00pm, Big Sky Digital Network; Southern Utah favored by 10 points
  • Portland State-Eastern Washington, 5:05pm, Big Sky Digital Network; Portland State favored by 5 points
  • Rhode Island-Towson, 2:00pm, Towson All-Access (on TU’s website); Towson favored by 20 points
  • Maine-New Hampshire, 1:00pm, pay-per-streaming (on UNH’s website); New Hampshire favored by 10 points
  • Eastern Kentucky-Eastern Illinois, 2:00pm, ESPN3; Eastern Illinois favored by 4 points
  • Sam Houston State-Central Arkansas, 7:00pm, ESPN3; Sam Houston State favored by 4 points

Quick notes on some of these games:

– A loss almost certainly knocks out every non-bolded team on this list, with the possible exception of Richmond. The Spiders would be 7-4 with a loss, against a respectable schedule, and also have a road win over James Madison.

Richmond’s issue is that it would have finished the season on a three-game losing streak, and would be competing with New Hampshire and/or Towson to be the 3rd CAA team in the field (having lost to New Hampshire, and having not played Towson).

– I believe the winner of Sam Houston State-Central Arkansas gets in, and the loser is left out. Part of me would root for Central Arkansas in this game, because UCA has a lopsided loss to Samford on its résumé, so The Citadel would compare favorably if that is taken into consideration.

However, my fear is that both SHSU and Central Arkansas could get in if UCA wins this game, despite Sam Houston State only having 6 D1 wins in that scenario. The problem is that the Bobcats are a “name” in FCS, and are currently ranked 12th.

I think it might be better for The Citadel if Sam Houston State won this game, essentially punching its ticket, and the Southland gets its standard two teams in the playoffs — rather than risking three Southland postseason entrants.

You could argue it either way.

– The loser of Eastern Kentucky-Eastern Illinois is out. The winner may get in, but it wouldn’t be a lock. The Citadel has a better case than either of them anyway, in my opinion.

– North Dakota has a victory over an FBS team. Admittedly, that FBS team is Wyoming, which probably wouldn’t finish in the top 3 of the Big Sky this season, but any FBS win will look good to the selection committee. I could see UND making a late move up and grabbing a bid, especially if it can win on the road at Cal Poly.

– Right now, I think The Citadel would be in with a couple of spots to spare. However, the Bulldogs could be “jumped” by a few teams. I am worried about the logjam in the Big Sky (a league that has historically fared well when bids are handed out) and the CAA (with a couple of last-gasp pushes by Towson and New Hampshire).

– Bethune-Cookman is the wild card in all of this, and may be the team that concerns me the most. The Wildcats are playing 1-9 Florida A&M on Saturday, and a win would move B-C to 9-2 on the season, with 8 Division I victories.

Bethune-Cookman is unlikely to get the MEAC’s bid to the Celebration Bowl even if North Carolina A&T loses this week, because of the tiebreaker setup in that conference. However, if B-C ties for the league title (or even if it finishes second), it would not be completely surprising to see B-C’s name on the bracket on Sunday.

I don’t think it would be deserving, as the Wildcats’ schedule strength is not good at all, but I’m not on the committee.

There is also the issue with the MEAC electing not to send its champion to the playoffs any longer, and instead having it represent the conference in a bowl game. Some members of the selection committee might consider that decision an abdication of participation by the MEAC in the FCS playoffs, regardless of its non-champion teams being eligible.

Let’s assume The Citadel makes the playoffs. Where would the Bulldogs play? Could they host?

Generally, the NCAA prefers to break things down regionally when it comes to placing teams in the FCS playoffs. It’s not unlike the college baseball tournament in that respect.

The Citadel would not get a seed, even with a victory over South Carolina on Saturday. Possible first-round opponents include Coastal Carolina, William & Mary, James Madison, and Richmond. I don’t think the Bulldogs would play Charleston Southern in the first round (if CSU didn’t get a bye), but I could see the bracketing leading to a potential second-round matchup with the Buccaneers (in fact, that might be likely).

Incidentally, Coastal Carolina’s hopes at getting a bye were all but dashed with its loss on Thursday night to Liberty. That could increase the possibility of a Coastal Carolina-The Citadel first-round game, with the winner playing Charleston Southern.

The home/road situation for the first round is usually determined by which school made the highest bid to host. From the first link in the “Links of Interest” section:

Meanwhile, The Citadel has put in its bid to host a first-round game on Nov. 28, submitting a bid higher than the $30,000 minimum, according to a school source. And Citadel athletic director Jim Senter is working the phones.


Also excellent: this effort by the Media Relations staff. Very well done.

I think The Citadel has a very reasonable chance of getting an at-large bid. The numbers largely break in the Bulldogs’ favor.

As long as there aren’t a lot of weird results on Saturday (or some political maneuvering in the committee room), The Citadel should be a part of the selection show (which airs on Sunday at 11:00 am ET on ESPNU).

Of course, The Citadel could make all of this analysis moot by winning on Saturday. That would be fine with me.

Normally, in this part of the preview I would compare the opposing team’s season statistics to those of The Citadel. However, since South Carolina is an FBS squad that plays in the SEC, that comparison struck me as largely irrelevant.

I’ll just note a few things that caught my attention while going over South Carolina’s numbers. The Gamecocks’ advanced statistical profile looks very much like a team with a 3-7 record.

– South Carolina does have some talented players on the defensive side of the ball. Linebacker Skai Moore (6’2″, 218 lbs.) leads the team in tackles (and tackles for loss). Moore is arguably the main reason North Carolina is not undefeated (well, maybe he shares that honor with Marquise Williams).

– On his radio show, Mike Houston mentioned that 12 different Gamecocks would rotate along the defensive line, including Gerald Dixon Jr. (6’3″, 327 lbs.), a massive nosetackle. Houston also noted the fine play of free safety Isaiah Johnson (6’0″, 209 lbs.), who is second on the team in tackles. Johnson will probably be an important player for the Gamecocks when defending the triple option.

– The defense has not been very good against the run, ranking 105th in rushing defense, allowing 5.04 yards per carry (110th nationally). The Gamecocks have been better at home in that category, however, allowing 3.86 yards per rush in Williams-Brice Stadium.

– On 3rd down and between 7 and 9 yards to go, South Carolina ranks next-to-last in rushing yards allowed. Opponents have run the ball nine times against the Gamecocks in that situation, gaining 81 yards. Obviously, that’s not much of a sample size.

– If The Citadel can keep the game close, perhaps this chart will come into play. It includes some situational statistics regarding South Carolina’s defense against the run:


Situation G Att Yards Avg. TD
SC winning By 15+ Pts 1 2 -7 -3.5 0
SC winning By 8-14 Pts 2 5 12 2.4 0
SC winning By 1-7 Pts 6 66 304 4.61 5
Tied 8 95 498 5.24 5
SC losing By 1-7 Pts 10 119 705 5.92 4
SC losing By 8-14 Pts 6 79 326 4.13 3
SC losing By 15+ Pts 4 35 185 5.29 2

– South Carolina has not been good at finishing drives, averaging 4.1 points per possession inside the opponents’ 40-yard line. That ranks 110th out of 127 FBS teams.

– Starting quarterback Perry Orth (6’1″, 203 lbs.) has an older brother, Calvin, who played baseball at The Citadel from 2011-14.

– Average size of the projected starting offensive line for the Gamecocks: 6’5″, 296 lbs.

That projected group of starters includes 6’8″, 295 lb. Blake Camper, a freshman expected to start at right tackle in place of Mason Zandil, who suffered a high ankle sprain last week.

Left tackle Brandon Shell (6’6″, 328 lbs.) is an NFL prospect. He has made 46 starts along the line during his college career.

– I would imagine South Carolina’s offensive strategy in this game will be fairly simple. The Gamecocks will undoubtedly run Brandon Wilds (6’2″, 220 lbs.) and David Williams (6’1″, 222 lbs.) behind that huge offensive line, grinding out first downs and trying to control the clock. When not doing that, South Carolina will probably get the ball in the very talented Pharoh Cooper’s hands at every opportunity.

At least, that’s what I would do. Cooper (5’11”, 207 lbs.) is really good. He has 51 catches for 700 yards this season, and is also averaging 6.1 yards per carry in limited rush opportunities.

South Carolina has an excellent placekicker/punter combo in Elliott Fry (6’0″, 164 lbs.) and Sean Kelly (5’10”, 189 lbs.).

Fry is 16-23 on field goal attempts this season, with a long of 52. He is a Type 1 diabetic who has managed to carve out a fine career at South Carolina.

Kelly (who is also the holder for placekicks) is averaging 43.3 yards per punt. Of his 47 boots, 21 have landed inside the 20-yard line, against only 3 touchbacks. He has had 12 punts of 50+ yards this season.

The Gamecocks have dangerous return men. Pharoh Cooper is the primary punt returner, while freshman Rashad Fenton (5’10”, 180 lbs.) ran a kickoff back 96 yards for a touchdown against LSU.

Odds and ends:

– South Carolina isn’t really excited about mentioning the 1990 game, if its game notes are anything to go by:

The teams met every year from 1907 until 1937, and 11 more times from 1940 to 1954, but got together just twice in the ‘60s and three times in the ‘80s. This is the second matchup between the two schools since the turn of the century. The Gamecocks posted a 41-20 win on Nov. 19, 2011 in the last encounter.

Let’s just gloss over the 1990s, shall we?

– Those South Carolina game notes also mention this factoid: in nine games against FCS opponents since 2006, the Gamecocks are 9-0, with an average score of 38-13.

– There are 40 players from South Carolina on the Gamecocks’ roster. Other states represented: Georgia (27), Florida (18), North Carolina (7), Alabama (5), Virginia (3), Maryland (2), California (2), and one each from Texas, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Missouri, Massachusetts, and Illinois.

– Per one source that deals in such matters, South Carolina is a 20-point favorite over The Citadel. The over/under is 57.

Other lines involving SoCon teams: Furman is an 8-point underdog at Wofford; Western Carolina is a 14-point favorite at VMI; Samford is a 3-point favorite at Mercer; and Chattanooga is a 30.5-point underdog at Florida State.

East Tennessee State is a 1.5-point home underdog against Kentucky Wesleyan on Saturday.

– Per the S&P+ ratings, South Carolina has a win probability of 93.1% on Saturday. Only five teams have a higher win probability this week: Middle Tennessee State (over North Texas), West Virginia (over Kansas), Florida State (over Chattanooga), Clemson (over Wake Forest), and Alabama (which has a 99.9% win probability over Charleston Southern).

– Among FCS teams, The Citadel is 19th in this week’s Massey Ratings. The ratings for other league teams: Chattanooga, 13th; Western Carolina, 23rd; Samford, 45th; Wofford, 49th; Furman, 54th; Mercer, 55th; VMI, 81st.

North Dakota State now sits atop the Massey FCS Ratings, followed by Illinois State, Jacksonville State, South Dakota State, and Dartmouth. East Tennessee State is 123rd, just ahead of Mississippi Valley State and Arkansas-Pine Bluff.

– The weather forecast for Saturday in Columbia, according to the National Weather Service: sunny, with a high around 58 degrees, a northeast wind around 7 mph, and a 20% chance of rain after 1 pm.

– Saturday is Military Appreciation Day at Williams-Brice Stadium.

– South Carolina is beefing up security for the game. Keep that in mind while deciding when to leave the tailgating areas and enter the stadium.

– The Citadel will wear white jerseys and hideous gray pants on Saturday.

The Citadel could win on Saturday. It wouldn’t blow anybody’s mind, at least not anybody who was paying attention.

That said, South Carolina, even with its struggles this season, is still an SEC team. It has huge resource advantages, and a lot of talented players.

In addition, the “look ahead” factor for this game is probably slight, despite Clemson coming to town next week. South Carolina wants to win a game — any game. It isn’t like the Gamecocks have 6 to 8 wins already and are cruising to a bowl game.

I think The Citadel will move the ball (at least occasionally) against South Carolina’s defense. I am concerned about the Bulldogs’ D, though.

Regardless, I’m looking forward to this one. For one thing, it’s a home game for me.

It is also a great opportunity for the team. Don’t be afraid to make a little history, guys.

Go Dogs!

Game review, 2015: Chattanooga

Links of interest:

Game story, The Post and Courier

“Notes” section, The Post and Courier

Game story, Chattanooga Times Free Press

Video from WCSC-TV, including interviews with Mike Houston, Dominique Allen, and Tevin Floyd

Video from WCIV-TV

School release

Box score

Oh, well.

Dominique Allen said after the game that the Bulldogs “came out flat in the first half,” which was an accurate assessment. You can’t fall behind 21-0 on the road and expect to beat a good team, and that is what happened on Saturday.

The Citadel didn’t give up, though, and that last-gasp touchdown won’t hurt when at-large bids are handed out next weekend. It may seem like a stretch, but I would rather the playoff committee evaluate the Bulldogs with a 31-23 loss to Chattanooga rather than a 31-17 score.

Offensively, The Citadel moved the ball most of the afternoon. Averaging 5.2 yards per rush against a defense as good as UTC’s is solid. Failing in two red-zone opportunities in the first half was a problem, though. A big problem.

I think the Bulldogs’ defense has to be a little disappointed with its play. Jacob Huesman is an outstanding player, but he broke a few tackles that he really should not have. The Citadel did not record a sack, and only had one pass breakup.

The first play from scrimmage was a buzzkill, to say the least.

I had no issues with the playcalling or decision-making, though I did wonder about punting on 4th-and-2 from midfield with 11:30 remaining in the fourth quarter, down 24-14. Mike Houston was asked about that after the game, and his explanation made sense (basically, he considered it, but thought it was a little too early to take the risk).

However, Chattanooga did score on its ensuing possession. I tend to think the move in that situation might have been to go for it, but you could argue it either way. I’m not the coach, and everyone should be grateful for that.

I didn’t like that the Bulldogs had to burn a timeout before the punt, though.

Random thoughts:

– Chattanooga apparently doesn’t think one slightly rah-rah P.A. announcer is enough. At certain times of the game, another announcer would suddenly shout out something like “Let’s MAKE SOME NOISE CHATTANOOGA”. It was a little bizarre.

– The overbearing nature of the sound system (including music choices) at Finley Stadium was actually worse than what Bulldog fans have to suffer through at Johnson Hagood Stadium. Also, there were multiple occasions where the music didn’t stop before the Bulldogs lined up on offense; I think at least one warning should have been issued by the referee for that.

– I also had trouble reading the scoreboard, due to the sun (more on that yellow star when I get to the pictures).

– Chattanooga does allow its band to play occasionally, which was nice.

– Finley Stadium has a pretty good setup. I got in and out of the lot where I had parked easily, which was convenient (especially when making a long drive home, mostly at night). The tailgating scene was quite respectable. I bet the pavilion is a godsend during inclement weather.

– Plenty of Bulldog fans were in attendance. I wasn’t surprised, but I was happy to see it. The coaches and players deserved that kind of traveling support.

– The presence of around 250-300 freshmen cadets was greatly appreciated. Kudos to Jim Senter, Geno Paluso, and everyone else responsible for making that happen.

The cadets made quite a bit of noise, too. I was also glad to see that the cheerleaders made the trip.

Playoffs? Don’t talk about—playoffs?! You kidding me? Playoffs?! I just hope we can win a game! Another game!

That was Jim Mora’s famous rant in 2001. The Bulldogs have a much better chance of making the postseason than Mora’s Colts did that year, but I do hope The Citadel can win another game — namely, the one in Columbia this Saturday.

Later in the week, I’ll preview that game. The team analysis may not be too lengthy, but my post will include a breakdown of The Citadel’s playoff chances if it finishes the season with seven wins. Of course, if the Bulldogs defeat the Gamecocks, they certainly won’t have to sweat out Selection Sunday.

Below are the usual assortment of pictures. These are really, really bad, thanks to things being a little too sunny in Chattanooga. You’ve been warned.

The game photos are in sequential order, though I had to scrap a bunch because they were even worse than the ones included in this set. I’ve annotated a few of them.


McAlister Musings: Time to #EmbraceThePace as the season begins for The Citadel

This is just a (very) short preview post for The Citadel’s 2015-16 basketball season. I’ll post more about the Bulldogs of the hardwood as the season progresses.

There has been a lot of interest (if not downright curiosity) in the upcoming campaign, as new coach Duggar Baucom prepares to unleash his specific brand of hoops mayhem.

I’m going to use this post to link to a bunch of stuff, including what I wrote when Baucom was hired by The Citadel in the spring:

Duggar Baucom is The Citadel’s new hoops coach. Is he the right choice?

Other links of interest:

– Season preview from The Post and Courier

– “All access” with Duggar Baucom

Story from The Post and Courier on the new style of play

– The Citadel picked to finish next-to-last in the SoCon by the coaches and media

The Citadel shoots 67 three-pointers in exhibition victory over Erksine

Box score from the Erskine game

The Duggar Baucom Show (11/12 episode)

Bulldogs ink pair of new recruits

– Game notes for The Citadel and Butler

Butler coach Chris Holtmann talks about the game versus The Citadel

Preview of The Citadel-Butler from The Indianapolis Star (includes the oft-repeated salt shakers story)

The Citadel’s 2015-16 roster

Let’s talk about that recent game The Citadel played against Erskine…

Sure, it was just an exhibition game against a largely overmatched Division II opponent, but still. The Citadel attempted 67 three-pointers. 67.

The Bulldogs only made 21 of them, though (31.3%). On the bright side, The Citadel collected 22 offensive rebounds (off 57 opportunities from missed FGs/FTs).

According to Duggar Baucom on his coach’s show, taking that many shots from beyond the arc won’t be commonplace (“that was…not by design, for sure”) but he also said The Citadel would probably shoot more three-pointers than any team in the country.

That is easy to believe. Baucom’s VMI team last year led the nation in three-point attempts, averaging almost 36 shots from 3-land per game. No other D1 squad averaged as many as 28 three-point attempts per contest.

The pace of the game against Erskine was as advertised. In the first half, the Bulldogs had 50 possessions. In the second half, things got a little slower; The Citadel only had 44 possessions in that frame.

It is unlikely that the Bulldogs will play a 94-possession game against a D1 opponent this season, at least in a regulation 40 minutes (VMI had a 94-possession game versus Western Carolina last season, but that one went 2OT). However, if The Citadel were to routinely average 85 possessions per game, it would almost certainly lead D1 in that category.

Do I think the Bulldogs will average 85 possessions per game? No. I could see 80, though.

Butler may be the best team The Citadel will play in 2015-16, though there is just a dash of faint praise in that statement. After all, the Bulldogs’ non-conference schedule includes no teams from power 5 conferences (possibly the only D1 school for which that will be the case this season), not to mention 3 non-D1 squads.

Regardless, the Indianapolis Bulldogs should be very good, with preseason rankings of #22 (USA Today Coaches’ Poll) and #24 (AP Poll). Butler was picked to finish third in the Big East preseason voting (behind Villanova and Georgetown).

Butler has several excellent players, particularly Kellen Dunham and Roosevelt Jones, both preseason all-Big East selections. Last year, BU advanced to the round of 32 of the NCAA tournament, beating Texas before losing to Notre Dame.

In 2015-16, Chris Holtmann’s squad was one of the best defensive teams in the nation (7th in adjusted defensive efficiency, per Butler was very good at preventing offensive rebounds and defending the perimeter (opponents only shot 30.7% from beyond the arc).

On offense, BU was a good offensive rebounding team that took care of the basketball, and did a decent job at getting to the foul line.

According to, Butler has a 99% probability of defeating The Citadel on Saturday, with a projected score of 91-62 (and a possessions estimate of 74).

The game will be televised on Fox Sports 2 (7:30 pm ET), with Alex Faust handling play-by-play and Dickey Simpkins supplying the analysis.

If you’re driving back from Chattanooga and want to listen to the game on the radio, it will be on 1450 AM. Ted Byrne will call the game from Indianapolis for the Bulldogs (since Mike Legg will be at the football game).

I don’t expect The Citadel to have a winning season in 2015-16, or to even be in the vicinity of a .500 record. This is a year for implementing Duggar Baucom’s system, and generating just a little bit of buzz.

Normally I would complain about a couple of things, like the Charmin-soft schedule and some aspects of the roster turnover, but I also understand what is behind both of those issues, and am willing to be patient.

I am glad to see a renewed emphasis on basketball at the military college. That includes three “Pack the Mac” events this season, the first of which is the home opener next week against Stetson.

Things should be entertaining at McAlister Field House this winter, and you can see the action unfold even if you can’t make it to campus. All of the home games will be on ESPN3.

I’m ready for a little roundball.

2015 Football, Game 10: The Citadel vs. Chattanooga

The Citadel at Chattanooga, to be played in Chattanooga, Tennessee, at Finley Stadium Davenport Field, with kickoff at 2:00 pm ET on Saturday, November 14. The game will not be televised. The contest will be streamed on the SoCon Digital Network, with the feed using UTC announcers (Jim Reynolds, Todd Agnew, Will Poindexter).

The game can be heard on radio via the various affiliates of The Citadel Sports Network. WQNT-1450 AM [audio link], originating in Charleston, will be the flagship station. WQNT will have a two-hour pregame show prior to each home football game. 

Mike Legg (the “Voice of the Bulldogs”) will call the action alongside analyst Lee Glaze. Jay Harper will report from the sidelines; he will host the first hour of the pregame show as well.

It is also possible to listen to the action with a smartphone, using a TuneIn Radio application.

Links of interest:

Preview of The Citadel-Chattanooga from The Post and Courier

– Game notes from The Citadel and Chattanooga

SoCon weekly release

Mike Houston on the SoCon teleconference

Russ Huesman on the SoCon teleconference

Mike Houston’s 11/10 press conference (with comments from Dominique Allen , Eric Goins, and Quinlan Washington)

The Mike Houston Show (video from his radio show)

– UTC Media Conference (video)

Inside Chattanooga Football (video)

– Preview of The Citadel-Chattanooga from the Chattanooga Times Free Press

– Story from the Chattanooga Times Free Press on UTC preparing for the triple option

Eric Goins is the SoCon student-athlete of the week; Goins has had a very good year

– Story on Quinlan Washington in The Post and Courier; Washington is the reigning SoCon defensive player of the week

– STATS article on the game (with some additional SoCon notes)

FCS Coaches’ Poll

There has been a lot of discussion in the media about how the Big XII has “backloaded” its schedule so that its best teams don’t meet until November. What hasn’t received nearly as much attention is the fact that the Southern Conference has done the same thing.

You have to give SoCon commissioner John Iamarino credit. He arranged the league schedule so that the top two teams would meet for the conference’s automatic bid at the end of their respective SoCon slates.

The Citadel already has clinched no worse than a share of the SoCon title, and is 6-0 in the league. This week, the goal is to win the conference outright, claim the league’s automatic bid to the FCS playoffs, and become the first team in school history to finish unbeaten in SoCon competition.

I think that angle (the chance to go undefeated in the conference) has actually been underplayed a bit. After all, there have only been three other seasons in which The Citadel lost just one game in Socon play (1959, 1961, and 1992).

Only once has The Citadel finished undefeated in conference action. The year was 1929, and the conference was the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Association. Carl Prause’s squad finished 4-0-1 in the SIAA, tying Furman (0-0) and beating Oglethorpe, Presbyterian, Mercer, and Wofford.

That 4-0-1 mark was not good enough to win the league in 1929, however. The SIAA champ that year, with a conference record of 7-0, was…Chattanooga.

As always, nomenclature has to be established when discussing Chattanooga. The paragraph that follows is a slightly reworked version of what I’ve written about before regarding the school’s branding issues.

Chattanooga has a webpage on its varsity athletics website devoted to the one question that never fails to cause confusion: What is a Moc?

 The term “Moc” is short for “Mockingbird.” Mockingbirds are fiercely territorial creatures which protect their homes with courage, determination and skill.

In the not-so-distant past, “Moc” was short for “Moccasin”, and referred to a snake, or a shoe, or an American Indian (two of them — Chief Chattamoc and, later, Chief Moccanooga). Now, it’s a bird named Scrappy.

Also in the mix, just to add to the fun: the “Power C” and the “Cowcatcher logo”.

In this post, I’ll refer to “Chattanooga”, “UTC”, and “Mocs” when discussing its football program.

The next few sections include statistical team/conference comparisons for league contests only, unless otherwise indicated. Both Chattanooga and The Citadel have played six conference games, against the same opponents (naturally).

What is striking about the Mocs’ SoCon contests is how much more dominant they have been in their two home games. UTC beat Furman 31-3 and Western Carolina 41-13, both at Finley Stadium.

On the road, Chattanooga has victories over Samford (31-21), VMI (33-27), and Wofford (20-17). The Mocs lost last week at Mercer (17-14).

The Citadel has only played two of its six conference matchups on the road, but played very well in both of those contests, winning 44-25 at Samford and 38-17 at Furman. At Johnson Hagood Stadium, the Bulldogs have wins over Western Carolina (28-10), Wofford (39-12), Mercer (21-19), and VMI (35-14).

In six league games, Chattanooga’s offense has thrown the ball 131 times, with six other would-be pass play attempts resulting in sacks. Not counting those sacks, the Mocs have rushed 284 times, so UTC has passed the ball (or attempted to pass) on 32.5% of its offensive plays from scrimmage.

Passing yardage accounts for 38.5% of Chattanooga’s total offense (with sack yardage removed from the total). UTC averages 7.1 yards per pass attempt (again, with sacks/yardage taken into account). For comparison, that is a full yard more per pass attempt than VMI.

In conference play, Chattanooga is fourth in scoring offense (28.3 ppg), third in total offense, and averages 6.0 yards per play, second-best in the league. On the other side of the ball, The Citadel is first in scoring defense (16.2 ppg), second in total defense, and first in yards per play allowed (4.5).

UTC is third in rushing offense and second in rushing yards per play (5.2). The Mocs are fourth in offensive pass efficiency, with three touchdowns against six interceptions.

The Citadel is first in rushing defense and rush yards allowed per play (3.2). The Bulldogs also lead the league in defensive pass efficiency, allowing five touchdown tosses but intercepting eleven passes in conference action.

Nationally, The Citadel is fourth in defensive pass efficiency, with 5 TDs allowed through the air more than counterbalanced by 17 interceptions (all games). Only Southern Utah (4 TDs/17 picks) has a better defensive TD/INT ratio.

The Mocs are third in the SoCon in offensive third-down conversion rate (45.1%). The Bulldogs lead the conference in defensive third-down conversion rate (30.6%).

The FCS leader in defensive pass efficiency and defensive third-down conversion rate, by the way, is South Carolina State.

UTC has gone for it on fourth down on eleven occasions in league play, picking up a first down seven times. On defense, The Citadel has given up eight conversions in thirteen opponent tries.

Chattanooga is second in the league in scoring defense (16.3 ppg, just behind The Citadel). UTC is first in total defense and second in yards per play allowed (4.7). No other league team is particularly close to the Bulldogs and Mocs in defensive yards allowed per play (both Wofford and Western Carolina allow 5.5 yards per play).

The Citadel is first in scoring offense (34.2 ppg), second in total offense, and first in yards per play (6.2).

Chattanooga is second in rushing defense and rush yards allowed per play (3.4). The Mocs are third in defensive pass efficiency, intercepting six passes in league play while allowing six TD throws.

As for The Citadel’s offense, it ranks first in rushing offense, averaging 5.6 yards per rush (also a league best). The Bulldogs lead the league in offensive pass efficiency, though they don’t throw it that often (the VMI game aside).

The Citadel remains second nationally in rushing offense, behind Cal Poly. The team that really stands out in this category, though, is Lamar, which is fifth in rushing yards per game but first in rush yards per play, with an amazing 7.0 yards per carry.

Despite that, the Cardinals are only 4-5, in part because of a leaky defense. Against Central Arkansas, Lamar averaged 9.2 yards per rush — and lost, 35-17.

The Bulldogs are second in the conference in offensive third-down conversion rate (48.2%). Western Carolina took over the league lead in this category after going 10-16 on third down tries against Furman last week.

UTC is third in the SoCon in defensive third-down conversion rate (40.0%).

The Citadel is 2 for 5 in fourth-down tries, while Chattanooga opponents are 6-10 in converting fourth-down attempts against the Mocs.

I put the red zone numbers this week into a separate section because the two teams’ statistics inside the 20-yard line are almost identical, both on offense and defense.

Chattanooga and The Citadel are both 22-27 overall converting red zone possessions into points. The Mocs have scored 15 touchdowns; the Bulldogs, 16.

Both defenses have allowed a 50% Red Zone TD rate. The Mocs have given up 7 TDs in 14 opponent Red Zone opportunities; the Bulldogs, 10 in 20.

The Citadel is +8 in turnover margin (gained 17, lost 9), second in the league. Mercer is +9 after winning the turnover battle against UTC last week 4-1.

Despite the tough day in Macon, the Mocs are +2 for the season in turnover margin, fourth-best in the conference. Chattanooga has gained ten turnovers while losing eight.

On FG attempts, the Bulldogs are 8-10 in the league (23-24 on PATs). Eric Goins was 5 for 5 in FG tries last week, and is now 10-12 overall for the season (long of 45), with no missed PATs.

Chattanooga is 10-11 kicking FGs in conference play (20-20 PATs). Henrique Ribeiro is 12-15 for the overall 2015 campaign (and like Goins, has a long for the year of 45). Ribeiro is 31-31 for the year on extra point attempts.

The Citadel ranks fifth in the conference in net punting yardage (35.0), while UTC is third (36.4). As for kickoff coverage, the Bulldogs are fourth in the league (with a conference-leading 16 touchbacks), while the Mocs are seventh (and a SoCon-low 4 touchbacks).

UTC is last in the SoCon in kickoff return average. The Citadel is first; as I pointed out last week, though, the Bulldogs have only returned seven kickoffs in league contests (for that matter, Chattanooga’s 13 returned kickoffs in league play is tied for second-fewest).

The Mocs top the conference in time of possession, averaging 33:44 per contest. The Citadel is fourth in that category (32:17).

Chattanooga is averaging 70.2 offensive plays from scrimmage per game, with a 2.08 plays-per-minute rate. The Bulldogs are averaging 70.5 offensive plays per game, with a 2.18 plays-per-minute rate (a pace that has remained consistent over the past few games).

The Citadel and Chattanooga are the two most penalized teams in the conference. The Bulldogs have committed the most penalties, while the Mocs have been assessed the most penalty yardage.

UTC will likely catch a break on the penalty yardage front this week, however, as opponents of The Citadel have been docked fewer penalty yards than the opponents for any other school in conference play, an ongoing tradition.

Note: statistics in the following sections are for all games.

Chattanooga quarterback Jacob Huesman (6’2″, 220 lbs.) is completing 66.8% of his throws, averaging 7.33 yards per attempt, with seven TDs against eight interceptions. He throws on average just over 22 passes per game.

Last year against The Citadel, Huesman was 11-17 for 163 yards and 2 touchdowns, including a 66-yard TD throw to C.J. Board. The coach’s son also had a 15-yard TD run in that game, a reminder that Jacob Huesman is a fine runner (5.3 yards per carry, 8 rush TDs this season).

Running back Derrick Craine (5’10”, 205 lbs.) currently leads the SoCon in rushing yards per game. Craine, described by Mike Houston as the “hardest-running running back” the Bulldogs will have faced this season, rushed for 135 yards against The Citadel in last year’s matchup.

Chattanooga’s projected starting offensive line averages 6’4″, 297 lbs. The same five players have started all season, but four of them changed positions on the line two weeks ago. Only the center, Jacob Revis (6’3″, 295 lbs.) stayed at the same spot.

Left guard Corey Levin (6’5″, 305 lbs.) was the Jacobs Blocking Award winner in the Southern Conference last season. Right tackle Josh Cardiello (6’3″, 290 lbs.) is a transfer from Georgia.

UTC’s leading receivers are the aforementioned C.J. Board (6’2″, 180 lbs.) and Xavier Borishade (5’10”, 175 lbs.), who also had a big catch against The Citadel last season. Another starting wideout, James Stovall (6’3″, 205 lbs.), has started the last six games for the Mocs and has 21 receptions.

Defensive end Keionta Davis (6’4″, 260 lbs.) is a native of Chattanooga who leads the SoCon in sacks (8.5) and tackles for loss (11.5). He will be a handful for the Bulldogs.

Davis is joined on the d-line by preseason all-league selection Josh Freeman, a 6’0″, 285 lb. defensive tackle who has started 46 games during his career, more than any other current Chattanooga player.

A.J. Hampton (6’1″, 240 lbs.) is a linebacker who leads the Mocs in tackles, with 65. Fellow ‘backer Nakevion Leslie (5’11”, 220 lbs.) is second on the team in tackles, with 11.5 of those stops for loss. Leslie had ten tackles against The Citadel last year.

Safety Cedric Nettles (6’0″, 220 lbs.) was a first-team All-SoCon pick last year by the league’s coaches and a second-team selection by the media. The other starting safety, Lucas Webb (6’1, 195 lbs.), was Nettles’ mirror in the honors department, as he was a first-team all-league selection last year by the media and a second-team pick by the coaches.

Webb had a 35-yard interception return for a touchdown against Furman earlier this season. Another starting Moc defensive back, Sema’je Kendall, also has a pick-6 this year, returning one 28 yards for a score versus VMI.

Dee Virgin (5’10”, 205 lbs.) in his third season as a starter at cornerback. He also returns kickoffs for the Mocs.

I’ve already mentioned Henrique Ribeiro, the preseason all-SoCon placekicker for Chattanooga. Ribeiro kicked a game-winning field goal to beat Wofford, and made four FGs against VMI, a key factor in UTC’s victory over the Keydets. He did miss a 36-yarder against Mercer.

Ribeiro (6’0″, 220 lbs.) is also the Mocs’ starting punter. He is averaging 43.3 yards per boot, with 7 of his 17 punts landing inside the 20-yard line (as opposed to 3 touchbacks).

C.J. Board and Xavier Borishade are Chattanooga’s punt returners, with Board the primary option.

Jacob Huesman holds for placekicks. Sophomore Emory Norred (6’0″, 225 lbs.) is in his second year as the long snapper.

Odds and ends:

– Chattanooga has 48 players from Tennessee on its roster. Other states represented: Georgia (29), Alabama (14), Florida (2), and one each from Virginia and New York.

I believe that is the smallest number of states represented on a roster of any team in the Southern Conference.

– During the SoCon media teleconference, a sportswriter for STATS asked Russ Huesman a question that referenced one of the Mocs’ prior opponents, “Wooferd”.

– At Russ Huesman’s weekly presser, a reporter asked Huesman this question: “For the loser of Saturday’s game, is the season over?”

Huesman answered, “I have no idea.” I thought it was rather polite of the coach to be so non-committal, given the somewhat over-the-top nature of the question.

– Per one source that deals in such matters, Chattanooga is a 5.5-point favorite over The Citadel. The over/under is 48.

Other lines involving SoCon teams: Furman is a 3.5-point favorite over Mercer; Wofford is a 2-point favorite over Samford; and Western Carolina is a 36-point underdog at Texas A&M.

VMI is off this week. East Tennessee State, incidentally, is a 29-point underdog at Gardner-Webb.

– Among FCS teams, The Citadel is 13th in this week’s Massey Ratings. The ratings for other league teams: Chattanooga, 17th; Western Carolina, 24th; Wofford, 41st; Furman, 49th; Samford, 51st; Mercer, 65th; and VMI, 81st.

Harvard continues to top the Massey FCS Ratings, followed by Jacksonville State, North Dakota State, South Dakota State, and Dartmouth. East Tennessee State is 124th, just ahead of last-place Arkansas-Pine Bluff.

– Weather forecast for Saturday in Chattanooga, according to the National Weather Service: sunny with a high of 56 degrees, winds out of the north at 5 miles per hour.

– Saturday is Military Appreciation Day at Finley Stadium.

– I mentioned this was a possibility in my preview of the VMI game, but with the victory over the Keydets, The Citadel’s senior class finished with an 8-0 record in “celebration games” (Parents’ Day/Homecoming). As far as I can tell, they are the first senior class to do so since at least 1953.

– Against VMI, the Bulldogs won the coin toss and elected to defer. It was the fourth time this season The Citadel had won the coin toss. Each time, the Bulldogs have deferred the option to kick/receive until the second half.

Only once this season in a game involving The Citadel has a team won the coin toss and elected to receive (Mercer). On every other occasion, the option has been deferred.

Personally, I think deferring the option is usually the right call. It gives a team the chance to score to end the first half, and then put more points on the board in the second half before the other team gets the ball (and prevents the opponent from having that opportunity).

The decision to defer has been used to great effect by Bill Belichick, head coach of the New England Patriots. He has won a few games over the years.

– The Citadel will wear white jerseys and white pants in Chattanooga.

– Attendance for the previous four games at Finley Stadium this season: 15,812 (when Chattanooga’s opponent was Jacksonville State); 9,491 (Mars Hill); 7,630 (Furman); 11,495 (Western Carolina).

I would guess there will be a good crowd on hand for Saturday’s game, helped by a sizable influx of fans wearing light blue. Also sure to make their presence felt: several busloads of freshmen cadets, and apparently a significant number of upperclassmen as well.

I remember last year’s game between the two teams, a 34-14 Chattanooga victory that wasn’t as close as the final score might indicate. That was arguably The Citadel’s most disappointing performance of 2014. Actually, it isn’t arguable — it was without question the most disappointing game of the season.

Have the Bulldogs really improved so much that they can reverse a decisive home loss just one year later?

There is no doubt they are significantly better. The record reflects that, and so does the play of the team. The defense (in particular) has made major strides.

UTC has played better at home this year, though (at least in its two league games at Finley), and also has the experience of a recent game with some similarities.

Last season, Western Carolina and Chattanooga were both undefeated and 4-0 when the two teams met in a game that would all but decide the SoCon’s automatic bid to the playoffs. The game was in Cullowhee, but it didn’t matter. UTC blasted the Catamounts, 51-0.

One difference this season is the Mocs are more up against it than they were last year. The loss to Mercer reduced Chattanooga’s margin for error when it comes to postseason play. How will UTC respond?

All that said, I have a lot of faith in the Bulldogs, as should anyone who follows the team. The coaches and players have earned that confidence.

Saturday afternoon can’t get here fast enough.


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