2015 Football, Game 8: The Citadel vs. Mercer

The Citadel vs. Mercer, to be played at historic Johnson Hagood Stadium, with kickoff at 2:00 pm ET on Saturday, October 31. The game will not be televised.

The contest will be streamed on ESPN3.com, with Kevin Fitzgerald providing play-by-play.

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 Mercer-The Citadel from The Post and Courier

– Game notes from The Citadel and Mercer

SoCon weekly release

Mike Houston on the SoCon teleconference

Bobby Lamb on the SoCon teleconference

– Bobby Lamb discusses Mercer’s loss to VMI and game against The Citadel on a Macon radio show

Mike Houston’s 10/27 press conference (with comments from Vinny Miller and Malik Diggs)

The Mike Houston Show (radio)

Promotional spot for Mercer-The Citadel

Mike Houston is the guide for a tour of facilities upgrades at Seignious Hall

– Joe Crochet, not wasting any time

Fans of The Citadel are very excited and enthusiastic right now, understandably (and justifably) so. The Bulldogs have played very well in recent weeks, recording decisive victories over three consecutive SoCon opponents, with two of those wins coming on the road.

Now, The Citadel returns to Johnson Hagood Stadium for a pair of conference home games before playing its league finale at Chattanooga. More than a few fans are already anticipating the matchup with the Mocs.

In a way, it’s hard to blame them. However, if you are already looking past Mercer (and/or VMI), I have a message for you: slow your roll.

The Bulldogs have a tough assignment on Saturday. If they aren’t at or near their best against Mercer, a loss is a distinct possibility.

Mercer has been snakebit in league play this season. The Bears are 0-3, but look at those losses:

– Mercer trailed Wofford by 10 points with just three and a half minutes to play, but rallied to tie the game and send it to OT. The Bears actually had a chance to win in regulation, but were stopped after having a 1st-and-goal on the Wofford 6-yard line in the final minute.

MU scored first in the extra session, but missed the extra point. The Terriers scored a matching TD, made the PAT and won the game 34-33.

Mercer outgained Wofford, ran 31 more plays, had a 31-18 advantage in first downs, forged a six-minute edge in time of possession, committed fewer penalties, blocked a field goal and an extra point, won the turnover battle 2-1…and still lost.

– The Bears led Western Carolina 21-3 in Cullowhee midway through the second quarter, but WCU would win the game 24-21 after scoring two fourth-quarter touchdowns (the second a 4th-and-goal conversion that came with just 42 seconds to play).

Again, Mercer outgained its league opponent, this time on the road. The Bears ran more plays, had more first downs, held the ball for almost nine minutes longer than the Catamounts, only committed one penalty, and did not give up a turnover. It wasn’t enough.

– The loss to VMI was different. The Keydets built an early 21-point lead and would eventually pile up 567 yards of total offense (including 391 through the air). Mercer won the turnover battle 4-1, but otherwise were generally outplayed over the course of the game.

Mercer still had a chance to tie the game late, however, as the Bears drove inside the VMI 25-yard line, only to be stopped on downs with 90 seconds remaining in the contest.

The defining statistic from that game? VMI’s otherworldly third-down conversion rate. The Keydets converted 17 of 19 third-down attempts, including their first 12.

The run of 12 straight third-down conversions by VMI included eight passes and a QB scramble; six of those plays were 3rd-and-7 or longer. I can’t imagine how frustrating that must have been for Mercer.

The next few sections include statistical team/conference comparisons for all games, unless otherwise indicated.

I debated just using SoCon games this week when making comparisons, but as Mercer has only played three league contests, I elected to go with the all-games model. I’ll occasionally note some SoCon-only numbers, however.

One reason for doing so is Mercer’s non-conference schedule, which includes three blowout victories over less-than-stellar competition.

Mercer has two wins over teams yet to win a game this season, Austin Peay (a road victory) and East Tennessee State. The Bears won those contests by a combined score of 80-7.

MU also defeated Stetson 57-14, a game played in Macon. The Hatters play in the non-scholarship Pioneer League, the same conference in which Davidson is a member.

The Bears’ other non-league game was a 29-22 loss at Tennessee Tech, which plays in the Ohio Valley Conference and currently has a 2-6 record (including a 34-14 loss to Wofford).

Meanwhile, The Citadel is 5-2, with victories over Davidson (69-0), Western Carolina (28-10), Wofford (39-12), Samford (44-25), and Furman (38-17). The Bulldogs have lost to Charleston Southern (33-20) and Georgia Southern (48-13). The games against the Eagles, Paladins, and Birmingham Bulldogs were all on the road.

In seven games, Mercer’s offense has thrown the ball 208 times; four would-be pass plays resulted in sacks, a very low percentage. Not counting those sacks, the Bears have rushed 310 times, so MU has run the ball on 59.8% of its offensive plays from scrimmage.

Passing yardage accounts for 50.7% of Mercer’s total offense (with sack yardage removed from the total). The Bears average 7.8 yards per pass attempt (again, with sacks/yardage taken into account). Incidentally, that average does not appreciably change when only league games are taken into consideration.

Among SoCon teams, Mercer is third in scoring offense (33.4 ppg) and second in total offense (6.3 yards per play). The Citadel is third in scoring defense (20.9 ppg) and total defense, allowing 5.4 yards per play.

Mercer’s scoring average declines to 25.0 ppg in conference matchups.

The Bears are third in passing offense, averaging 240.4 yards per game (227.7 yards per game in three SoCon contests). MU is first among SoCon teams in offensive pass efficiency, with twelve touchdown tosses and no interceptions.

Let me repeat that: no interceptions. Mercer hasn’t thrown an interception all season. 208 pass attempts, no picks. That is impressive regardless of the level of competition, and a credit to Bears quarterback John Russ, who has thrown 195 of those passes.

The Citadel is second in the conference in pass defense, but first in pass defense efficiency. The Bulldogs are allowing 6.2 yards per pass attempt, best in the league, and have intercepted 13 passes (tops in the conference, and tied for third nationally in FCS).

Last week, The Citadel allowed two touchdown passes to Furman, increasing the total number of TD throws against the Bulldogs’ D this season to three. The 13/3 interception/TD ratio is tied for the best such mark in FCS (with Southern Utah).

The interception-free Mercer attack against the ball-hawking Bulldogs’ D…I guess that would be an unstoppable force versus an immovable object kind of thing.

As I noted in the first paragraph in this section, Mercer quarterbacks have only been sacked four times all season. The Citadel’s defense has recorded 16 sacks, second-best in the league (Chattanooga has 22 sacks). On an individual level, Mitchell Jeter has six of those sacks for the Bulldogs, second-most in the SoCon.

Mercer has completed 60.6% of its passes, fourth-best among league teams; the Bears’ completion percentage in SoCon games is just under 58%. MU is averaging 29.7 pass attempts per contest, fifth-most in the conference. The Citadel’s defense is allowing an opponents’ completion percentage of 60.2%, fourth-best in the conference.

MU is fourth in the SoCon in rushing offense, averaging 5.0 yards per carry (though in games against league teams that number drops to 4.2).

The Citadel is fifth in rushing defense, and is allowing 4.7 yards per rush (next-to-last in the league in that category). However, when only conference games are taken into account, the Bulldogs are second in rushing defense (and only allow 3.5 yards per rush).

Mercer is converting 46% of its third-down attempts, third-best in the SoCon. The Citadel is second in the league in defensive third down conversion rate (38.4%).

The Bears have a red zone TD rate of 80% (24-30), which is tops in the conference; 16 of the 24 touchdowns Mercer has scored in the red zone came via the rush. The Citadel’s red zone defensive TD rate (55%) ranks second in the conference.

When going for it on fourth down this season, Mercer is 12 for 20 (60%). Opponents of The Citadel have tried fifteen fourth-down attempts, converting ten times (Furman converted its only fourth-down try against the Bulldogs last week).

Mercer is second among league teams in both scoring and total defense, allowing 19.4 points and 353.4 yards per game. The Bears are allowing 5.3 yards per play. However, that number rises to 6.4 yards per play in games versus conference squads.

MU is first in the SoCon in rushing defense, allowing 3.7 yards per rush attempt (35th nationally). Mercer opponents have scored twelve rushing touchdowns in seven games.

There is a vast discrepancy in Mercer’s rush defense statistics when the Bears’ three league contests are isolated, though. In those three contests, MU is allowing 5.8 yards per rush.

The Citadel is first in scoring offense (35.9 ppg), third in total offense (averaging 6.4 yards per play) and leads the league in rushing offense (a category in which the Bulldogs rank second nationally, behind only Cal Poly of the Big Sky Conference). The Citadel is averaging 5.8 yards per rush attempt, best in the conference.

The Bulldogs are last in the SoCon in passing yardage per game, but average a league-best 10.6 yards per pass attempt, and are third in offensive pass efficiency among conference squads. The Citadel has five TD passes and two interceptions.

Mercer is sixth in pass defense among SoCon outfits, fourth in defensive pass efficiency, with seven interceptions against seven touchdown passes allowed (three of those picks came last week versus VMI). The Bears’ D has fourteen sacks in seven games.

At 53.3%, The Citadel leads the conference in offensive third down conversion rate, and is third nationally (trailing James Madison and Kennesaw State). MU is last in the SoCon in defensive third down conversion rate, with a terrible 51.9% rate (third-worst in all of FCS).

That percentage is even worse in league matchups (65.9%), which is what happens when you allow 17 out of 19 possible third-down conversions in one game.

The Citadel has an offensive red zone TD rate of 71.9%, third-best in the league. The Bulldogs have 23 touchdowns from red zone possessions this season, and all of them have come via the rush.

Mercer’s red zone defensive TD rate is 68.2%, which ranks next-to-last among conference teams.

The Bulldogs did not have a fourth-down conversion attempt last week, so they remain 3 for 8 on fourth down tries this year. The Bears’ defense has faced seven fourth-down conversion attempts, and has prevented a first down on five of those occasions.

The Citadel is +5 in turnover margin (gained eighteen, lost thirteen), second in the league in that category to Mercer; the Bears are +6 (gained eleven, lost five).

Mercer is tied for seventh nationally in fewest turnovers.

On field goal attempts, the Bulldogs are 5 for 7, with Eric Goins converting a 22-yarder to close out the first half against Furman last week. MU has made seven of twelve tries. The Bears have struggled a bit on PATs, missing four of them (27-31). The Citadel has yet to miss an extra point this season.

The Citadel is third in the conference in net punting yardage (37.7), while Mercer ranks fourth (38.7). As for kickoff coverage, the Bulldogs are second in the league, while the Bears are third.

Mercer is second in the SoCon in kickoff return average (24.2 yards). The Citadel is fifth (22.6). The Bulldogs did not return a kickoff last week; all four of Furman’s kickoffs resulted in touchbacks.

The Bulldogs rank fifth in time of possession (31:01) among league teams. The Bears are third in that category (31:52).

MU is averaging 74.5 plays from scrimmage per game, with a very fast 2.34 plays-per-minute rate. The Bulldogs are averaging 68 plays per game, with a 2.19 plays-per-minute rate.

Mercer has been called for fewer penalties this year than any other SoCon team (3.7 per game). In fact, the Bears lead the nation in that category.

MU is likely to continue to lead the nation in fewest penalties after Saturday, given the aversion of league officials to penalize Bulldog opponents. Only 4.6 penalties per game have been called against The Citadel’s opponents this year (second-fewest in the conference), a multi-year trend.

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

Mercer quarterback John Russ (6’0″, 202 lbs.) has completed 61.5% of his passes, averaging 8.3 yards per attempt, with twelve TD passes and no interceptions. He ranks second in the SoCon in individual pass efficiency.

Russ is responsible for 27 plays this season of 20 yards of more, 25 through the air and two on the ground. While he prefers to throw the ball, he is not afraid to run, as The Citadel found out in last season’s game against the Bears.

In that matchup, Russ rushed for 96 yards on 14 carries, including a 31-yard run. He also threw a 65-yard TD pass against the Bulldogs.

Alex Lakes (5’11”, 216 lbs.) rushed for 1,107 yards last season, which led the SoCon. However, he is currently the backup running back in Mercer’s “pistol” offense.

Lakes is still averaging over 10 carries per game, but Tee Mitchell (5’10”, 194 lbs.) is starting for the Bears. Mitchell is second in the league in rushing, averaging 95.4 yards per game.

It should be noted that Lakes suffered a punctured lung against Tennessee Tech, and missed the Bears’ game versus Wofford. That injury has surely affected his performance to this point in the season.

Mercer’s most feared big-play threat is sophomore wideout Chandler Curtis (5’11”, 201 lbs.), a first-team All-SoCon selection last season as a freshman. Curtis was an impact returner in 2014, with three punt return touchdowns and a kickoff return for a score.

Curtis hurt his ankle in Mercer’s season opener, and just returned to action last week against VMI. He had 7 catches for 109 yards and a TD in that game.

In his absence, Avery Ward (6’2″, 178 lbs.) is leading the team in receptions (28, twice as many as any other receiver). He also has four TD catches this season. Ward caught a touchdown pass against The Citadel in last year’s game.

John Russ throws a lot to the tight end, with players at that position catching 31 passes so far in 2014. Starting TE Robert Brown (6’1″, 229 lbs.) has 13 receptions, including a 51-yard catch versus Stetson and a 50-yarder against East Tennessee State.

Mercer’s projected starters along the offensive line average 6’2″, 284 lbs. Kirby Southard (6’0″, 273 lbs.) has started every game at center for Mercer since the beginning of the 2013 season.

Right tackle Bret Niederreither (6’2″, 280 lbs.) began his collegiate career at Temple. In last year’s game against The Citadel, Niederreither started at defensive tackle. This season, he has started all of Mercer’s games on the offensive line.

Mercer normally lines up on defense in what is listed as a 3-3-5 setup. Of course, the Bears may line up differently against The Citadel’s triple option attack.

Middle linebacker Lee Bennett (6’0″, 223 lbs.) leads the Bears in tackles, with 39. He had 14 tackles last week against VMI.

Tripp Patterson (6″0, 224 lbs.) is second on the team in tackles, despite making his first start last week. The transfer from Air Force has also had a 14-tackle game (versus Wofford).

Macon native Tyler Ward (6’1″, 236 lbs.) starts at the weakside linebacker position, and is Mercer’s all-time leader in tackles.

“Bandit” linebacker Tosin Aguebor (6’3″, 238 lbs.) leads the team in sacks (4) and tackles for loss (7.5). Aguebor started every game for Mercer in 2013, but missed all of 2014 with an injury.

Another linebacker, Kyle Trammell (6’0″, 227 lbs.) blocked two kicks against Wofford, before leaving that game with a knee injury. He hasn’t played since, though Bobby Lamb said on a local Macon radio show this week he was hopeful Trammell would be back on the field against The Citadel.

Nosetackle Austin Barrett (6’2″, 314 lbs.), a preseason second-team All-SoCon selection, had two sacks last week. Defensive end Tunde Ayinla (6’0″, 254 lbs.) has been a starter for three years.

Free safety Zach Jackson (6’0″, 203 lbs.) is a transfer from TCU. He had 10 tackles versus The Citadel last season. He was injured in last week’s game against VMI, but is expected to play this Saturday.

Cornerback Alex Avant (5’8″, 176 lbs.) was a preseason second-team all-league pick.

Placekicker Jagger Lieb is 6 for 11 on field goal attempts, with a long of 43. Last season, he made a 48-yarder against The Citadel.

Lieb is 24-27 on PAT attempts. His holder, Rob East, has had that role since 2013 (and has also done some punting for the Bears).

Punter Matt Shiel is a native of Australia who is a transfer from Auburn. Australian punters are all the rage right now in college football.

Shiel, like most of his compatriots, is a former Australian Rules Football and rugby player. He is averaging 43.6 yards per punt, with a long of 73 (last week versus VMI). Eight of his twenty-two punts have been downed inside the 20; he also has three touchbacks.

John Abernathy has been Mercer’s long snapper for the past three seasons.

While Stephen Houzah, Jimmie Robinson, and Jeff Bowens are listed as the returners on the Bears’ two-deep, you can bet Bulldog coaches are watching to see if Chandler Curtis returns to that role this week.

Curtis “scared us to death” in last year’s game, according to Mike Houston on his radio show. I can certainly understand that.

Odds and ends:

– The Citadel has been a member of the Southern Conference since 1936. It has never started 5-0 in league play.

– The weather forecast is great. As of Thursday night, the National Weather Service was projecting a nice, sunny day in Charleston on Saturday, with a high of 74 degrees and winds out of the east at 8 miles per hour.

The Bulldogs have won three straight, are 4-0 in the SoCon and on pace to play for a league championship. For the first time this season, weather won’t be an issue for a home game at The Citadel.

I hope all of that results in a big crowd at Johnson Hagood Stadium.

– Massey Ratings update: The Citadel is rated 111th in Division I, 16th among FCS teams. Chattanooga is the highest-rated SoCon team (12th in FCS).

One major caveat to those ratings is that Harvard is rated first among FCS teams. I know the Crimson is riding a long winning streak, but I don’t believe Harvard is close to being the best team in FCS.

Mercer is rated 91st among FCS teams, one spot ahead of South Carolina State.

Other FCS ratings in Massey of note include Western Carolina (23rd), Samford (41st), Furman (45th), Wofford (47th), VMI (74th), Davidson (121st), ETSU (124th), and Mississippi Valley State (125th, and last).

South Carolina is rated 61st among all D1 squads; Georgia Southern is 64th. (Clemson is 2nd.)

– Per one source that deals in such matters, The Citadel is an twenty-point favorite over Mercer. The over/under is 55.

I cringed when I saw that. Heck, I hated to even type it.

It also struck me as a bogus line. Mercer has played ten games since joining the SoCon. It is 1-9 in those games, but only twice has lost by more than 7 points. Both of those games came last year, when the Bears lost 35-21 to Western Carolina and 34-6 at Wofford (in the 2014 season finale).

– Other lines involving SoCon teams: Chattanooga is an eight-point favorite over Western Carolina; Samford is favored by eight points over Furman; and Wofford is a seven-point favorite at VMI.

The WCU-UTC game will probably be the one of most interest to Bulldog fans. At least, it should be.

– East Tennessee State is in its first year of restarting a football program that will begin playing a SoCon schedule next year. The Buccaneers are 0-7 (including that loss to Mercer I referenced earlier), but have a chance to finally pick up a win this week. ETSU is a seven-point favorite at home against Warner, an NAIA Division II school located in Lake Wales, Florida.

– Of the 22 starting positions on The Citadel’s offensive and defensive units, the same player has started every game for 20 of them. That continuity is important, and beneficial.

– Mercer has 76 players from Georgia on its roster, by far the most from any state. Other states represented: Florida (13), Tennessee (6), Alabama (4), North Carolina (2), and one each from Pennsylvania, Michigan, and South Carolina (Destin Guillen, a freshman defensive lineman from Berea High School in Greenville).

Of course, the Bears also have an Australian, the aforementioned Matt Shiel.

– The Bulldogs haven’t beaten Mercer in Charleston since 1929. Of course, this will be only the second game between the two schools in Charleston since 1929.

– The Citadel has victories over Mercer in four different cities: Charleston, Macon, Savannah, and Augusta.

– This week, the Bulldogs will again sport the “blazer” look. Perhaps the light blue and white will return for Homecoming. It would be nice. I’m not expecting it, though.

What worries me about this game is that it could be a repeat of last year’s matchup, when The Citadel let Mercer back into the game in the second half and was very fortunate to come away with a two-point victory.

I’m basing that concern in part on some occasional second-half struggles this year. The way the Bulldogs played against Furman in the third quarter was a good example of that, and something The Citadel can’t afford to let happen again this week.

Mercer has a lot of big-play possibilities among its offensive players, and may be getting some of them back at the right time (notably Chandler Curtis).

I’m confident in the Bulldogs. It’s just that I think Mercer is much closer to “turning the corner” than its league record suggests. One of these weeks, Mercer is going to find itself on the right side of a SoCon scoreline.

I hope it isn’t this week, though. The Citadel has its own corner to turn.

College Football TV Listings 2015, Week 9

This is a list of every game played during week 9 of the college football season involving at least one FBS or FCS school. All games are listed, televised or not. For the televised games (only live broadcasts are listed), I include the announcers and sideline reporters (where applicable). I put all of it on a Google Documents spreadsheet that can be accessed at the following link:

College Football TV Listings 2015, Week 9

Additional notes:

– I include ESPN3.com games; they are denoted as “ESPN3″.

– I also list digital network feeds provided by various conferences when they are free of charge. For some of these feeds, the audio will be a simulcast of the home team’s radio broadcast. Other online platforms have their own announcers.

For now, the digital networks I am including in the listings are those for the Mountain West, Big Sky, Big SouthOVC, NEC, SoCon, and Patriot League.

Occasionally individual schools (almost always at the FCS level) provide video feeds free of charge. When that is the case, I list those as well.

– I am not including games in which one of the participants is a “non-counter”, as these are de facto exhibition contests.

– I also do not include PPV telecasts, regardless of whether or not the matchup in question features FBS or FCS schools. These games are increasingly rare.

– The local affiliates for the ACC Network “national” game of the week (Virginia Tech-Boston College) can be found on a link in the document, and here: Link

– The regional sports networks carrying the ACC Network “regional” game of the week can be found in a note in the document, and here: Georgia Tech-Virginia

– Listed in notes on the document are the regional sports networks carrying the following games: Weber State-Eastern Washington, Western Kentucky-Old Dominion, Marshall-Charlotte

– Local affiliates for American Sports Network games: Elon-Stony Brook, FIU-FAU, McNeese State-Abilene Christian, Coastal Carolina-Charleston Southern, Cornell-Princeton, Bucknell-Lafayette, UTSA-North Texas

– Coverage map for the ABC/ESPN2 3:30 pm ET games, Clemson-North Carolina State and Maryland-Iowa

– BTN (formerly Big Ten Network) “gamefinder”:  Link

– AP Poll (FBS):  Link

– FCS Coaches’ Poll:  Link

A lot of the information I used in putting this together came courtesy of Matt Sarzyniak’s totally comprehensive and utterly indispensable site College Sports on TV, a must-bookmark for any fan of college sports.

Also to be credited, as always, are the indefatigable information collectors (and in some cases sports-TV savants) at the506.com. I am also assisted on occasion by helpful athletic media relations officials at various schools and conferences.

Game review, 2015: Furman

Links of interest:

Game story, The Post and Courier

Game story, The Greenville News

Sidebar story, The Greenville News

“Notes” column, The Greenville News

School release

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

Video from WCIV-TV

Video from WSPA-TV

Column from STATS FCS Football, with a mention of The Citadel as “looking more like a team capable of winning the Southern Conference title”

Box score

Random thoughts and observations from a pleasant afternoon in the Upstate of South Carolina:

– The Citadel is 4-0 in the SoCon. I realize that there are a host of long-term implications to consider, including the potential of a league title shot, but I wanted to make one immediate point.

The Bulldogs have now clinched a winning conference record — and for me, that means something. The fact The Citadel has clinched that winning record in the SoCon before Halloween is a really nice bonus.

– An interesting (and enjoyable) statistical trend…

SoCon opponent — Rush yards per play
Western Carolina — 4.9
Wofford — 5.1
Samford — 5.9
Furman — 6.2

– There were some major league hits and collisions in that game. The training staffs for Furman and The Citadel got plenty of exercise on Saturday.

Special mention in this area probably should go to Furman safety Richard Hayes III, who seemed to be in the middle of a lot of the action, taking and giving. Hayes tied for the Paladins’ team lead in tackles, with ten.

The Citadel was led in tackles by Kailik Williams, who is beginning to make a name for himself on the Bulldogs’ D.

– Mike Houston, in one of his post-game interviews:

We saw probably four or five different defensive schemes today from Furman; they were throwing everything at us…and what that ended up doing, it gave us the opportunity for a lot of big plays…a lot of those big plays were [when] we caught them in things. That goes back to Coach [Brent] Thompson and Dominique [Allen] being on the same page.

I’m certainly not an expert on formations and/or tactics, but it seemed to me the Bulldogs ran the toss play a lot more than in prior games.

I think that happened because Furman was being very aggressive in trying to stop the inside running game, and the Paladins’ strategy included blitzing a safety (or linebacker) on a regular basis. By tossing the ball outside, the Bulldogs got a numbers advantage whenever the blitzing defender was caught in the middle of the field.

– I loved everything about Brandon Eakins’ 35-yard touchdown run on an end-around. The timing of the call was fantastic (immediately after a false start penalty set the Bulldogs back from 3rd-and-short to 3rd-and-5ish). The play was well-designed and perfectly executed.

I even got a decent picture of the play just as Dominique Allen was pitching the football to Eakins.

– The critical play of the game, though, was arguably Allen’s pass to Reggie Williams on 3rd-and-7 from the Bulldogs’ 49-yard line. Furman had scored 10 points on its first two possessions of the second half, and had also controlled the ball during almost the entire third quarter (after The Citadel had rung up an 8-minute, 42-second advantage in time of possession in the first half).

It was somewhat surprising Williams could be so open on a passing down, but that can be credited to the play call itself, the execution of the play, and the fact that in the triple option offense, even 3rd-and-7 is not necessarily an automatic passing situation. Indeed, on another 3rd-and-7 situation earlier in the game, The Citadel had picked up a first down on a handoff to Isiaha Smith.

– Driving home after the game, I listened to part of Furman’s post-game radio show. At one point, Sam Wyche was interviewed. He had been the analyst for the ESPN3.com production of the contest.

Wyche commented that The Citadel’s “two guys in the middle” had dominated along the defensive line and caused Furman’s offense a lot of problems. He was presumably referring to Mitchell Jeter and Jonathan King, and his observation is a reminder that stats don’t always tell the whole story, especially those of the defensive variety.

Jeter and King combined for “just” four tackles on Saturday (including a shared sack for Jeter), but their influence on the game was undeniable.

– Speaking of Wyche: before the game, Furman prefaced a video PSA by Wyche on good sportsmanship by showing a clip of his famous/infamous “You don’t live in Cleveland” speech. I’m not sure it gets much better than that.

– This is meaningless, but Saturday’s game marked the third straight time Furman had donned white jerseys against The Citadel. Two of those games were played at Johnson Hagood Stadium, of course.

When the Bulldogs had last traveled to Greenville, in 2012, Furman wore purple jerseys.

– Definitely not meaningless: the freshmen members of the Corps of Cadets who made the trip up (in eight buses) to cheer on the Bulldogs. Their presence was felt, to say the least.

I said this in my game preview, but I wouldn’t mind at all if corps trips to select road contests became a near-annual occurrence. There is an opportunity every year for at least one “instate” away game, with The Citadel now alternating road matchups every season between Furman and Wofford.

I realize timing is a factor, as it is unlikely such trips could (or would) be undertaken prior to mid-October.

– Next up for the Bulldogs is Mercer. It will be a big game, because when you start winning, every game becomes a big game.

I hope a large crowd is on hand this Saturday at Johnson Hagood Stadium, because this team deserves as much support as it can get.

Here are a few photos from Saturday. While most of the time I take terrible pictures, I was semi-pleased with a couple of these. One was the above-referenced shot taken during Brandon Eakins’ TD run. I also got a reasonably good picture of Isiaha Smith’s 32-yard run in the first quarter.

Curiously, both the Eakins touchdown and Smith’s burst came immediately following false start penalties.

Anyway, the pics:

 

sss

 

 

2015 Football, Game 7: The Citadel vs. Furman

The Citadel at Furman, to be played at Paladin Stadium in Greenville, South Carolina, with kickoff at 1:30 pm ET on Saturday, October 24. The game will not be televised.

The contest will be streamed on ESPN3.com, with Chuck Hussion providing play-by-play and Sam Wyche supplying the analysis. Bob Mihalic will be the sideline reporter.

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. 

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-Furman from The Post and Courier

– Preview of The Citadel-Furman from The Greenville News

– Game notes from The Citadel and Furman

SoCon weekly release

Mike Houston on the SoCon teleconference

Bruce Fowler on the SoCon teleconference

Mike Houston’s 10/20 press conference (with comments from Dominique Allen and Joe Crochet)

The Mike Houston Show (radio)

Dee Delaney was named SoCon Defensive Player of the Week for his performance against Samford

For the second week in a row, The Citadel’s football team performed well and was rewarded with a win. This time it came on the road, against Samford.

The game went almost exactly how The Citadel would have wanted. The Bulldogs controlled the ball (35:15 time of possession) and averaged 6.2 yards per play on offense (including 5.9 yards per rush).

Dominique Allen ran the triple option with aplomb, rushing for 166 yards. Isiaha Smith scored three touchdowns. The offense committed no turnovers.

Conversely, the defense forced four turnovers, one of which was returned for a backbreaking touchdown just before the end of the first half, and limited Samford to 2.6 yards per carry.

SU did throw for 414 yards, but 113 of those came in the game’s final nine minutes, with The Citadel ahead by three touchdowns. Only two of Samford’s last ten completions resulted in a gain of more than nine yards (and neither was a “huge” play, as they were gains of 12 and 16 yards, respectively).

The Bulldogs were only called for two penalties (one enforced, for five yards). Will Vanvick had a punt downed on the 1-yard line, and later had another go out of bounds on the Samford 2-yard line.

It wasn’t a perfect game by any means, though. Both Samford possessions that came after those outstanding punts by Vanvick resulted in touchdown drives, the second of which featured an 83-yard TD pass by SU.

After that play, Samford recovered an onside kick, and appeared to have some momentum. It took exactly one play for The Citadel’s defense to pop SU’s balloon, however, with Dee Delaney forcing a fumble that was recovered by Joe Crochet.

That play finished off a (mostly) great day at the office for Delaney, who was the league’s defensive player of the week. It was also Crochet’s second fumble recovery of the year; somewhat surprisingly, he is the only player in the Southern Conference to have more than one recovered fumble this season.

Okay, time to talk about Furman…

Bruce Fowler is in his fifth season as the Paladins’ head football coach. He has a record of 23-31 (16-17 in the SoCon), with an FCS playoff appearance two seasons ago.

Fowler is a 1981 graduate of Furman. He is a member of the Dick Sheridan coaching tree, like every other Furman head coach since Sheridan left Greenville after the 1985 season.

Furman was 3-8 last year, which was a tough way to follow up a league co-championship. The Paladins suffered through a string of injuries in 2014 that would have tested the patience of Job, but whether or not the school administration would be similarly patient if Furman struggles again this season is open to debate.

It is worth noting that there is a new director of athletics at the school, Mike Buddie (who was in the mix for the job at The Citadel before the military college hired Jim Senter).

I don’t know anything about the inner workings of Furman, but I was reminded of the school’s modern-day expectations when I read that former head coach Jimmy Satterfield had been inducted into the school’s athletic Hall of Fame; he was honored two weeks ago. Satterfield was 66-29-3 in eight years at the helm, with a national title to his credit.

Satterfield’s record in his last two seasons at Furman was a combined 11-10-1. He was fired.

Bobby Lamb is the head coach at Mercer, the opponent for The Citadel next week. He was Fowler’s predecessor at Furman, where he also played. Lamb’s record at Furman was 67-40 (one league title).

Lamb’s record in his last two seasons at Furman was a combined 11-11. He was fired.

I could be wrong, but this might be an important year for Bruce Fowler. We shall see.

The next few sections include statistical team/conference comparisons for all games, unless otherwise indicated.

As I mentioned last week, that isn’t ideal for comparative purposes, but Furman and The Citadel have combined to play only five league games. Since 2015 total statistics at this point are almost certainly more germane to this season than the 2014 numbers, I’m going to use this year’s stats.

Furman is 3-3 on the season, with wins over VMI (24-21), South Carolina State (17-3), and UCF (16-15). The Paladins have lost to Chattanooga (31-3), Virginia Tech (42-3), and Coastal Carolina (38-35). The games against the Chanticleers, Keydets, and Orangeburg’s Bulldogs were contested in Greenville.

The Citadel is 4-2, with victories over Davidson (69-0), Western Carolina (28-10), Wofford (39-12), and Samford (44-25). The Bulldogs have lost to Charleston Southern (33-20) and Georgia Southern (48-13). The matchups against the Eagles and Birmingham’s Bulldogs were road games for The Citadel.

In six games, Furman’s offense has thrown the ball 190 times, and has had fourteen other would-be pass plays result in sacks. Not counting those sacks, the Paladins have rushed 199 times, so the run/pass mix for FU is very close to 50-50.

Passing yardage accounts for 57.4% of Furman’s total offense (I took out the sack yardage when computing that statistic). The Paladins average 5.12 yards per pass attempt (again, with sack yardage taken into account).

Among SoCon teams, Furman is last in both scoring offense (16.3 ppg) and total offense, and is also last in the league in yards per play (4.5). The Citadel is third in scoring defense (21.1 ppg) and total defense and is allowing 5.4 yards per play.

Furman is fifth in passing offense, averaging 193.2 yards per game. The Paladins are last among SoCon teams in offensive pass efficiency, with three touchdown tosses and six interceptions.

The Citadel was leading the conference in pass defense and pass defense efficiency prior to the Samford game, but now ranks third in the league in the first of those categories. However, the Bulldogs still lead all SoCon squads in defensive pass efficiency (12th nationally), allowing 6.2 yards per attempt (the league low).

The Citadel has intercepted eleven passes while allowing just one touchdown throw (which came last week against Samford). That is the top ratio in FCS; only Jacksonville and Southern Utah have intercepted more passes (13) than the Bulldogs.

Furman quarterbacks have been sacked fourteen times, tied for the second-most among conference squads. As noted above, the sack yardage against the Paladins has been significant; for example, VMI has been sacked seven more times than Furman, but the Paladins have lost more yardage from sacks (110) than the Keydets (108).

The Citadel’s defense has recorded twelve sacks, third-best in the league. Mitchell Jeter has 5.5 of those sacks for the Bulldogs.

Furman has completed 55.3% of its passes, second-lowest among SoCon teams. The Paladins are averaging 31.7 pass attempts per contest, fourth-most in the conference.

Not counting sack yardage, Furman is averaging 3.9 yards per carry. The sack statistic really makes a difference in this case, because the Paladins’ average per rush is technically 3.1 yards per attempt. FU has eight rushing touchdowns, fewest in the league.

The Citadel is sixth in rushing defense, and is allowing 4.8 yards per rush (tied for the league worst in that category). Samford was not able to consistently run the ball against the Cadets last Saturday, but I don’t expect that to dissuade the Paladins from trying to control the game on the ground.

Furman is only converting 34.8% of its third-down attempts, the lowest percentage in the SoCon. The Citadel is third in the league in defensive third down conversion rate (38.4%), though the Bulldogs did allow Samford to convert 9 of 17 third-down attempts last week.

The Paladins have a red zone TD rate of 66.7%, fourth-best among SoCon squads; seven of the eight TDs Furman has scored in the red zone were via the rush. The Citadel’s red zone defensive TD rate (52.9%) ranks third in the conference.

When going for it on fourth down this season, Furman is 4 for 7. Opponents of The Citadel have tried fourteen fourth-down attempts, converting nine times (Samford was 1 for 2 last week).

Furman is fourth in the league in both scoring and total defense, allowing 25.0 points and 373.3 yards per game. FU is allowing 5.4 yards per play.

The Paladins are third in the SoCon in rushing defense, allowing 4.3 yards per rush attempt. Furman opponents have scored eleven rushing touchdowns in six games.

The Citadel is tied for first in scoring offense (35.5 ppg), third in total offense (averaging 6.3 yards per play) and leads the league in rushing offense (a category in which the Bulldogs currently rank second nationally, trailing only Cal Poly). The Bulldogs are averaging 5.8 yards per rush attempt, best in the conference.

The Bulldogs are last in the SoCon in passing yardage per game. However, The Citadel continues to average a league-best 10.7 yards per pass attempt, and is third in offensive pass efficiency among conference squads.

Furman is fifth in pass defense among SoCon outfits, but third in defensive pass efficiency, with seven interceptions against five TD passes allowed. The Paladins’ D has only six sacks so far this season, tied for the league low.

At 52.6%, The Citadel leads the conference (and is seventh nationally) in offensive third down conversion rate. Furman is second in the SoCon in defensive third down conversion rate, with an excellent 36.0% rate.

The Citadel has an offensive red zone TD rate of 74.1%, third-best in the league. All twenty of the Bulldogs’ touchdowns from red zone possessions have come via the rush.

Furman’s red zone defensive TD rate is 60.9%, which ranks fourth among conference teams.

The Bulldogs are 3 for 8 on fourth down this year after going 1-1 last week. The Paladins’ defense has faced thirteen fourth-down conversion attempts, and has prevented a first down on eight of those occasions.

The Citadel is +4 in turnover margin (gained sixteen, lost twelve), tied for the top spot in the league in that category. Furman is -1 in that category (gained nine, lost ten).

On field goal attempts, the Bulldogs are 4 for 6, while the Paladins have made five of six tries. Neither team has missed a PAT so far this season.

The Citadel leads the conference in net punting yardage (38.7). Furman ranks fourth (34.8). As for kickoff coverage, the Bulldogs are second in the league, while the Paladins are sixth.

Furman is last in the SoCon in kickoff return average (18.2 yards). The Citadel is fourth (22.6).

As far as time of possession is concerned, the Bulldogs rank fifth in that statistic (30:50) among league teams. FU is one spot ahead of them in fourth (31:44).

The Paladins are averaging 67.2 plays from scrimmage per game, with a 2.12 plays-per-minute rate. The Bulldogs are averaging slightly more plays per game (67.7) at a slightly faster pace (2.19 plays-per-minute).

Furman has been called for more penalties this year than any other SoCon team (6.7 per game). However, The Citadel’s opponents have been flagged for only 4.8 penalties per contest, third-fewest in the conference.

Now that I’ve posted all those numbers and made the respective comparisons, it’s fair to ask how relevant they are.

It’s a question that doesn’t have a good answer. It’s quite possible they aren’t particularly meaningful at all — at least, where the Paladins are concerned.

Is Furman the team that beat an FBS squad and dropped a hard-fought game to FCS #1 Coastal Carolina by just 3 points? Or are the Paladins the team that struggled at home with VMI and lost badly to Chattanooga?

The raw statistics would indicate the latter scenario is closer to the truth, but there is a reason they’re called “raw” statistics. I think a closer examination of the numbers might suggest that Furman is actually a good team, potentially a very good team.

For example, if you disregard the Paladins’ game against Virginia Tech, Furman is only allowing 3.7 yards per rush. That would be the best mark in the SoCon.

Furman went toe-to-toe with Coastal Carolina, outgaining the Chanticleers through the air and matching CCU on the ground. How did Furman lose? Well, the Paladins gave up a 100-yard kickoff return in that game, and were also foiled by two turnovers.

Before running into a buzzsaw at Chattanooga, Furman had won three straight games, including a 16-15 victory over UCF. I know that the Knights are one of the worst FBS teams in the country, but hey — it’s still a road win over an FBS team. The Paladins held UCF to 3.7 yards per play; the Knights finished with only 98 yards passing (and were intercepted three times by Furman).

I’m inclined to think Furman is better than its statistics show. The only thing that makes me question that judgment is the VMI game, where the Paladins’ defense was solid, but the offense struggled. Frankly, I am a bit puzzled by Furman’s offensive numbers in that contest.

Furman quarterback Reese Hannon (6’1″, 209 lbs.) is a three-year captain who has started 27 games for the Paladins. Hannon was injured in the Paladins’ opening game last season and missed the rest of the 2014 campaign.

Hannon is third among active SoCon players in passing yardage (incidentally, there are three Paladins in the conference’s top 10 in that category). This season, the Greer native (who Mike Houston compared to Andrew Luck in playing style) is completing 55.7% of his pass attempts, averaging 5.99 per attempt, with three touchdowns against six interceptions.

While his 2014 season opener resulted in a season-ending injury, Hannon’s first game in 2015 was considerably more positive, despite Furman eventually losing to Coastal Carolina. Hannon threw for a school-record 365 yards (on 41 attempts), including two TD passes. He also added 35 rushing yards, finishing with 400 yards of total offense — which was also a single-game school record.

Furman tends to run a lot of two-back offensive sets. Mike Houston commented during his radio show that the Paladins “run downhill”, with a lot of play-action.

Triston Luke (5’9″, 187 lbs.) is a freshman from Tennessee who took the last train from Clarksville to the Furman campus. He leads the Paladins in rushing attempts and yards. He scored two touchdowns against South Carolina State.

The starting fullback, Ernie Cain, is a 6’0″, 220 lb. redshirt senior who leads the team in rushing touchdowns with five. He is averaging 5.5 yards per carry.

Furman’s projected offensive line starters average 6’3″, 280 lbs. They have combined to make 111 career starts.

Right guard Joe Turner (6’3″, 270 lbs.) has started 40 games for the Paladins, and was selected first-team All-SoCon by the league coaches last season. He is a fifth-year senior from Roswell, Georgia.

Eric Thoni, a 6’1″, 260 lb. center, returned to the squad (and the starting lineup) after missing last season; he was dismissed from the team during the summer of 2014. Thoni has made 27 career starts.

In general, the Paladins’ offensive line has been more stable this season than it was last year. Four of the five projected starters on Saturday have started every game for Furman this year.

Furman has multiple quality pass-catchers. Jordan Snellings (6’2″, 195 lbs.) is a fifth-year senior who has had a fine career in Greenville. Snellings had eight receptions for 102 yards and a TD in last year’s matchup at Johnson Hagood Stadium.

This season, Andrej Suttles (5’10”, 185 lbs.) leads the team in receptions, with 23. He is averaging 14.2 yards per catch, with two touchdowns.

Logan McCarter (6’1″, 182 lbs.) is a big-play threat who averaged 21.5 yards per reception last season. He has 16 catches this year, with a long of 57 yards versus VMI.

Duncan Fletcher came to Furman as a quarterback, and started two games in 2013. Fletcher is now a 6’4″, 231 lb. tight end with 43 career receptions.

He will be a tough cover for The Citadel. Longtime observers of the military college’s football program are well aware that Paladin tight ends have often enjoyed success against the Bulldogs in recent years.

Furman has a new defensive coordinator this season. Kyle Gillenwater was on James Madison’s staff for 15 years, including five seasons as that school’s DC. He joins a staff that has a lot of familiarity with defending the triple option.

Jordan Hawkins (6’1″, 295 lbs.) is a junior defensive tackle who has already started 26 games in his career. Fellow DT Jaylan Reid is a 5’11”, 274 lb. redshirt freshman who is starting in front of veteran lineman John Mackey (who has 27 career starts).

Defensive end Brian Ross (6’5″, 235 lbs.) blocked a punt versus VMI and returned it for a touchdown, a critical play in that contest. The DE on the other side of the line, T.J. Warren (6’2″, 222 lbs.), was a linebacker before being moved to the d-line this spring.

Tackling machine Cory Magwood (6’2″, 232 lbs.) leads the Paladins in stops, with 63. He had 18 tackles last season against The Citadel, and is the active career leader in tackles in the SoCon.

Carl Rider (6’2″, 225 lbs.) redshirted last season due to injury. The middle linebacker was a first-team all-league pick in 2013. He seems to be back at full strength this season. Rider (who Mike Houston called a “lunch-pail kind of guy, blue-collar player, real tough”) had 19 tackles against South Carolina State.

Last year, the Paladins went through more safeties than Spinal Tap did drummers. In 2015, things have been better for Furman on that front.

Trey Robinson (6’1″, 212 lbs.) has started every game and has 4 interceptions and 49 tackles. Byron Johnson (6’2″, 231 lbs.) has started the last five contests at strong safety, while Richard Hayes III has started four games at free safety (having missed one game due to injury).

At cornerback, Reggie Thomas (6’0″, 186 lbs.) has the most career starts of any Furman player, with 41. He has two forced fumbles for the Paladins this season.

Redshirt junior Jamarri Milliken (5’11”, 190 lbs.) will return to the starting lineup on Saturday. He missed the first half of the Chattanooga game after being sidelined by a targeting penalty incurred against VMI.

Jon Croft Hollingsworth is five for six on field goal attempts for Furman. His best effort was a school-record 55-yarder that gave Furman a fourth-quarter lead against UCF that the Paladins did not relinquish.

Hollingsworth is only a sophomore, but he has already made three 50+ yard field goals in his career. With that strong a leg, it should come as no surprise that Hollingsworth also handles kickoffs (8 of his 23 kickoffs have resulted in touchbacks).

He also serves as Furman’s punter; this season, he is averaging 37.7 yards per boot. Last season, Hollingsworth had a punt blocked by Samford.

Andrej Suttles is the Paladins’ regular punt returner, a duty he also held last year. Logan McCarter is the primary kickoff returner for Furman; last year he had a 63-yard kickoff return against The Citadel.

Long snapper Danny LaMontagne had been the Paladins’ regular snapper for 33 straight games before he broke his ankle at South Carolina last season. He has snapped in all five games for Furman this year.

Luke Cuneo is a redshirt freshman from Ashland, Massachusetts, who serves as the Paladins’ holder on placekicks. Cuneo is probably one of the smaller players to see playing time in Division I, as he is 5’6″, 168 lbs.

Odds and ends:

– The weather forecast is promising. As of this writing (Thursday night), the National Weather Service was projecting sunny skies in Greenville on Saturday, with a high of 71 degrees.

– Per one source that deals in such matters, The Citadel is an eight-point favorite over Furman. The over/under is 45.5.

Of course, Samford was an eight-point favorite over The Citadel last week. Sometimes sharpies aren’t too sharp when it comes to FCS games.

– Furman has 27 players from Georgia on its roster, the most from any state. Other states represented: North Carolina (17), Florida (14), South Carolina (14), Tennessee (12), Alabama (4), Ohio (2), Pennsylvania (2), and one each from New Jersey, Massachusetts, Kentucky, and New York.

– As mentioned above, Reese Hannon broke the single-game total offense record for a Furman player against Coastal Carolina.

The record Hannon broke had been set just last season, by his current backup, P.J. Blazejowski, who had 382 yards of total offense in Furman’s OT loss to The Citadel. Curiously, the top six single-game marks for individual total offense in Furman history all occurred in losses.

In case you were wondering, The Citadel’s single-game individual total offense record (486 yards) was set in 2007 by Duran Lawson, in a 54-51 overtime victory over…Furman.

– This Saturday will be Homecoming at Furman. Attendance for the last five Homecoming games at Paladin Stadium:

2010 — 10,394 (vs. Chattanooga)
2011 — 11,716 (vs. Wofford)
2012 — 11,191 (vs. Georgia Southern)
2013 — 9,217 (vs. Samford)
2014 — 8,047 (vs. Samford)

While Homecoming attendance at Furman may have been disappointing in the past two years, there is a good chance it will rebound this Saturday; for one thing, a sizable contingent of visiting supporters should be on hand. That group will include most of the freshmen members of The Citadel’s Corps of Cadets, making the trip to Greenville via a fleet of buses.

It has been many years since a significant part of the corps made a road trip for a football game. As an alumnus, I’m very pleased at this development. I would like for it to happen on a near-annual basis.

– Furman’s game notes for this week includes a reference to “Hitler, Mussolini, and Hirohito”, which I believe wins some version of SID bingo. Well done.

– On the other hand, the FU release also includes this blurb:

Furman has already avenged a pair of losses from a year ago, defeating both VMI (24-21) and South Carolina State (17-3) after dropping games to the Keydets and Bulldogs in 2014. A win over The Citadel on Saturday would improve the Paladins to 3-0 in revenge matchups.

I’ve got to ask: how are “revenge matchups” being defined? After all, Furman has lost two games this season to teams which also defeated the Paladins last year (Coastal Carolina and Chattanooga).

Is it only a revenge matchup if Furman wins?

– Furman was off last week. In the past four years, the Paladins are 2-2 coming off bye weeks, with one of the wins a 24-17 victory over The Citadel in 2013. This is the first time Furman has played a home game after a bye week since 2011, when the Paladins defeated Presbyterian 66-21.

– Former Bengals and Buccaneers head coach Sam Wyche will be the ESPN3 analyst on Saturday. It is unlikely that he will say anything about Cleveland during the broadcast. You never know, though.

While this is a key game for the Bulldogs, it is an equally important game for Furman.

In fact, this game is a great opportunity for the Paladins. With a victory, Furman will be in a position similar to the one The Citadel is in right now — right in the middle of the conference race, and with legitimate playoff aspirations.

The Paladins have already played Chattanooga and VMI. Their remaining league schedule includes three teams The Citadel has beaten (Samford, Western Carolina, and Wofford).

If Furman were to defeat The Citadel, that school’s supporters could logically conclude that the Paladins are capable of beating those same three squads. Take care of business against that trio and Mercer, and Furman is 8-3 and preparing for postseason play. Even at 7-4, the Paladins would have a shot at a playoff berth, given their strong non-conference schedule.

I suspect this will be a very physical contest on both sides of the ball. Furman’s offense will try very hard to establish the run.

There have been times in the recent past (the 2012 game, for instance) when the Paladins got away from running the football. I don’t expect the Furman coaching staff to make the same mistake this time.

That said, I have a lot of confidence in the Bulldogs. They have played very good football over the past two weeks, and I see no reason for that to change on Saturday.

I think this will be a hard-fought game between two good teams. I’m looking forward to it; the atmosphere should be great.

Go Dogs!

College Football TV Listings 2015, Week 8

This is a list of every game played during week 8 of the college football season involving at least one FBS or FCS school. All games are listed, televised or not. For the televised games (only live broadcasts are listed), I include the announcers and sideline reporters (where applicable). I put all of it on a Google Documents spreadsheet that can be accessed at the following link:

College Football TV Listings 2015, Week 8

Additional notes:

– I include ESPN3.com games; they are denoted as “ESPN3″.

– I also list digital network feeds provided by various conferences when they are free of charge. For some of these feeds, the audio will be a simulcast of the home team’s radio broadcast. Other online platforms have their own announcers.

For now, the digital networks I am including in the listings are those for the Mountain West, Big Sky, Big SouthOVC, NEC, SoCon, and Patriot League.

Occasionally individual schools (almost always at the FCS level) provide video feeds free of charge. When that is the case, I list those as well.

– I am not including games in which one of the participants is a “non-counter”, as these are de facto exhibition contests.

– I also do not include PPV telecasts, regardless of whether or not the matchup in question features FBS or FCS schools. These games are increasingly rare.

– The local affiliates for the ACC Network “national” game of the week (Boston College-Louisville) can be found on a link in the document, and here: Link

– The regional sports networks carrying the ACC Network “regional” games of the week can be found in notes in the document, and here: North Carolina State-Wake Forest and Virginia-North Carolina

– Listed in notes on the document are the regional sports networks carrying the following games: Army-Rice, North Texas-Marshall, North Dakota-Montana, New Mexico-San Jose State

– Local affiliates for American Sports Network games: Southern Mississippi-Charlotte, Princeton-Harvard, Middle Tennessee State-Louisiana Tech, Abilene Christian-Incarnate Word, Ohio-Buffalo, FAU-UTEP, Villanova-Towson

– Coverage map for the ABC/ESPN2 3:30 pm ET games, Indiana-Michigan State and Texas Tech-Oklahoma

– BTN (formerly Big Ten Network) “gamefinder”:  Link

– AP Poll (FBS):  Link

– FCS Coaches’ Poll:  Link

A lot of the information I used in putting this together came courtesy of Matt Sarzyniak’s totally comprehensive and utterly indispensable site College Sports on TV, a must-bookmark for any fan of college sports.

Also to be credited, as always, are the indefatigable information collectors (and in some cases sports-TV savants) at the506.com. I am also assisted on occasion by helpful athletic media relations officials at various schools and conferences.

2015 Football, Game 6: The Citadel vs. Samford

The Citadel at Samford, to be played at Seibert Stadium in Homewood, Alabama, with kickoff at 3:00 pm ET on Saturday, October 17. The game will not be televised.

The contest will be streamed on ESPN3.com, with Mike Grace providing play-by-play and Chad Pilcher supplying the analysis. Caroline Saunders will report from the sidelines.

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. 

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-Spurrier (oops, I mean Samford)  from The Post and Courier

– Game notes from The Citadel and Samford

SoCon weekly release

Mike Houston on the SoCon teleconference

Chris Hatcher on the SoCon teleconference

Mike Houston’s 10/13 press conference (with comments from Dominique Allen, Tevin Floyd, and Dondray Copeland)

The Mike Houston Show (radio)

Chris Hatcher post-practice interview on 10/12 (he begins his summation with “We had a good day, very businesslike…”)

Chris Hatcher post-practice interview on 10/13 (he begins his summation with “We had a good day, I tell ya, very businesslike…”)

– Chris Hatcher post-practice interview on 10/14 (“We need to develop us a physical swagger about ourselves…”)

– Chris Hatcher post-practice interview on 10/15 (“We didn’t have a whole lot of pep about us…”)

– Tevin Floyd named SoCon Defensive Player of the Week for his performance against Wofford

Dominique Allen is “growing into his job”

– The Citadel’s defense to be tested by the “Hatch Attack”

– Game highlights against Wofford

Like every fan of The Citadel, I was pleased with the Bulldogs’ performance against Wofford. The only negative was that I didn’t get to watch the game in person.

I have some regrets about that (a weather-related decision), but given the events in and around Columbia during the previous week, I was a little gun-shy when it came to the roads (and the rain). As it happens, unrelated events later in the day made me feel a little better about staying home.

On the bright side, I did get to watch the game on ESPN3. While I enjoyed the action on TV (Roku is my friend), it wasn’t the same as being there. I really missed the gameday experience.

It reminded me that when it comes to improving attendance at Johnson Hagood Stadium, attracting first-timers to the game is extremely important. We need to get more people hooked on the fun that is a football game at The Citadel.

Some quick observations about the victory over the Terriers:

– Wofford actually had a time of possession edge of almost six minutes. At the end of the first half, in fact, the Terriers had held the ball more than twice as long as The Citadel, despite the Bulldogs’ 21-6 lead.

That is why The Citadel’s first drive of the second half was important. Sixteen plays, eighty yards, 6:36 off the clock, and a TD to cap it off.

The Bulldogs were 3 for 3 on third down conversion attempts on that drive, including twice moving the chains on 3rd-and-5. The other third down conversion came inside Wofford’s 10-yard line.

Oh, and the drive began on the 20 after the Bulldogs fumbled the kickoff, but recovered. That could have been a game-changer in the worst way. Malik Diggs should get his fair share of credit for recovering the fumble and making a big save.

– The Citadel averaged 5.11 yards per rush, and 12.5 yards per pass attempt (seven completions in ten attempts). The Bulldogs committed no turnovers.

Those are the kinds of numbers that win lots of games.

– The defense held Wofford to 2.43 yards per rush (Lorenzo Long: 9 carries, 21 yards). The Citadel also forced two turnovers. The Terriers were only 2 for 13 converting third downs.

I thought the Bulldogs played “fast” on defense, especially early in the contest. It set a tone.

– The Citadel looked fresh and extremely well-prepared. The coaches did a fine job during the bye week.

The offensive playcalling was excellent. There were “special” plays designed for Cam Jackson, but they were within the flow of the offense. Tyler Renew was used in a way that took advantage of his strengths as a runner.

Dominique Allen was outstanding, and made certain play calls look really good, none more so than the 2nd-and-2 pass on the Wofford 24-yard line in the third quarter. Brandon Eakins was open, but he wasn’t that open. Allen had to clear the safety with the throw, and he did so, hitting Eakins in stride for the touchdown.

– The Bulldogs won the battle of special teams with room to spare.

Watching the game on ESPN3 also gave me an opportunity to confirm that SoCon officiating leaves a lot to be desired — and yes, I know I’m criticizing the officiating in a game The Citadel won 39-12. It doesn’t matter.

The targeting penalty on Quinlan Washington was a joke, and I don’t care if some ivory tower panel later rubber-stamped the ruling. As Mike Houston said later when asked if he thought it was targeting: “I don’t think anybody does.”

Basically, Washington was thrown out of the game for making a good play. The official didn’t like that Washington hit the Wofford quarterback so hard, and decided to eject him. It was as simple as that.

That call was followed by another officiating bungle on the very next play. Wofford fumbled on the 2-point conversion attempt, and the ball was picked up by a Bulldog player who began running down the field for a 2-point defensive score, only for the play to be blown dead.

The Terriers’ last offensive snap of the game resulted in a 100-yard interception return for a touchdown by The Citadel’s Dondray Copeland that was eventually nullified, a play that featured a plethora of flags and a meeting between the referee and several Wofford players. Why, I have no idea.

Luckily, the Bulldogs dominated the game. Imagine if it had been close, though, and the officiating had affected the game’s result. Actually, you don’t have to imagine it — that’s what happened in last year’s matchup.

I don’t enjoy harping on the officials. I know it’s perceived in some quarters as whining. However, it’s the elephant in the SoCon’s little room, and it can’t be ignored.

Other SoCon fan bases complain about the officials, too. Many of those complaints are valid. Heck, The Citadel’s supporters were angry with the officiating after a 27-point victory.

The players and coaches who give it their all each and every week in the league deserve better.

As always when writing about The Citadel and Samford, I have to define some terms (as this is a Bulldogs vs. Bulldogs matchup).

In this post, “Bulldogs” refers to The Citadel, while “Birmingham Bulldogs”, “SU”, or “Baptist Tigers”* will serve as references to Samford.

*From a historical review of Samford football:

The Howard College [later to be renamed Samford] team was known originally as the “Baptist Tigers.” However, rival Auburn also had “Tigers” as a nickname. Howard’s teams went by “Baptist Bears” until Dec. 14, 1916, when the student body voted two-to-one for the “Crimson Bulldog” over the “Baptist Bears.” Students decided that a bulldog could eat more Birmingham-Southern Panther meat than a bear could.

Picking a mascot for its gastronomical qualities seems like a reasonable thing to do, though I think the students were selling the typical appetite of bears a little short.

Chris Hatcher was a well-regarded Division II coach, who in seven years at Valdosta State (his alma mater) won 76 games and the 2004 national title. That’s when Georgia Southern hired him and gave him two objectives: win, and don’t be like Brian VanGorder.

Hatcher successfully avoided the VanGorder comparison, but couldn’t quite get over the hump in the wins category. In three seasons in Statesboro, he was 18-15, which wasn’t good enough for that program.

He was let go after a win over The Citadel at Paulson Stadium to close out the 2009 season. Following a 13-6 victory, Hatcher worked his coach’s TV show, then was fired immediately afterwards.

Hatcher didn’t stay out of work long, as Murray State hired him to revitalize a program that had gone 13-43 in the previous five seasons. He would coach at the Kentucky school for five years, compiling a record of 27-30.

His worst season at Murray State was his last one, as the Racers finished 3-9 in 2014. It came as a bit of a surprise when Samford then hired him to take over for the retiring Pat Sullivan.

However, Sullivan was a fan of the hire:

“He has experienced winning on and off the field, he’s won a national championship, he’s a Hall of Famer,” Sullivan said. “And, more than anything, he’s a good man.”

Prior to his arrival at Samford, Hatcher ran an offensive system he called the “Hatch Attack”:

“We want to be a fast-paced offense,” he said. “It will be an exciting brand of football.”

In his five years at Murray State, Hatcher’s offense topped Division I-FCS in several categories. Last season, the Racers ranked second in the nation in passing offense averaging 327.2 yards per game and 15th nationally in total offense at 468.3 yards per game.

In his prior job as coach at Valdosta (Ga.) State [note: the article skipped over his three years at Georgia Southern], Hatcher led the Blazers to the 2004 Division II national championship and tutored quarterback Dusty Bonner to two Harlon Hill Trophies — the Division II equivalent of the Heisman Trophy.

Hatcher said his offensive philosophy is to get the ball into the hands of playmakers and to also run the ball effectively.

“You have to be able to run the ball when you want to,” he said, “and you have to then be able to stop the run.

“We want to get the ball in space to people who know how to move, and to do it quickly,” Hatcher added.

Hatch’s offense at Samford this season looks a lot like the one Pat Sullivan ran last year, though. That isn’t by accident.

Samford may have a new head coach, but the offensive coordinator (Travis Trickett) was a holdover from the old staff. Actually, the new staff is the old staff; Hatcher retained most of Sullivan’s assistants, including Trickett and defensive coordinator Bill D’Ottavio.

With a talented, veteran team returning, Hatcher didn’t change a lot of on-field concepts. As the coach said during the SoCon media teleconference, he “left the schemes pretty much the same on offense and defense”.

The transition wasn’t seamless (“it wasn’t all peaches and cream,” said Hatcher), but ultimately Samford has many of the same players from last season playing for most of the same coaches from last season, and employing a similar style on both sides of the ball.

The next few sections include statistical team/conference comparisons for all games (unless otherwise indicated). This isn’t ideal for comparative purposes, but as each team has only played two league games, and 2015 statistics at this point are surely more valid than the 2014 totals, I’m using these numbers.

Samford has played five games, three at home (against Central Arkansas, Florida A&M, and Chattanooga) and two on the road (Louisville and VMI). SU is 3-2 overall, beating Central Arkansas, Florida A&M, and VMI.

The Citadel is 3-2 as well, having played Davidson, Western Carolina, Charleston Southern, and Wofford (all at home), along with Georgia Southern (in Statesboro).

In its five games, Samford’s offense has thrown the ball 190 times and run the ball 190 times. It really isn’t a true 50-50 run/pass mix, though, because ten of those rushing plays are sacks.

Passing yardage accounts for 65.8% of SU’s total offense. During his radio show, Mike Houston mentioned that about one-third of Samford’s pass plays are screens.

Among SoCon teams, Samford leads in scoring offense (35.2 ppg, 18th nationally in FCS) and is second in total offense, and is also second in the league in yards per play (6.1). The Citadel is tied for second in total defense and is allowing 5.2 yards per play. The Bulldogs are second in scoring defense (20.6 ppg).

SU leads the league in passing offense, averaging 304.2 yards per game (good for 12th in all of FCS, and the only SoCon team to average more than 300 yards per game through the air). Samford is also first in the conference in passing efficiency, with ten touchdowns and six interceptions. Nationally, Samford ranks 23rd in offensive pass efficiency among FCS teams, one spot ahead of…The Citadel.

The Citadel leads the conference in pass defense and pass defense efficiency (3rd nationally), allowing only 5.37 yards per pass attempt. Opponents are completing passes at a 54.5% rate against the Cadets, also the low for league teams.

SU quarterbacks have been sacked ten times, third-most among conference squads. The Citadel’s defense has recorded seven sacks (fifth in the SoCon) and nine interceptions (second).

The Birmingham Bulldogs have averaged 38 pass attempts per game. VMI (41.2) is the only SoCon squad to have averaged more.

Samford is averaging 8.01 yards per pass attempt, which is second in the SoCon to The Citadel, which is averaging 10.67 yards per attempt (obviously with a lot fewer throws).

The Baptist Tigers are sixth in rushing offense (4.2 yards per carry), averaging 158.4 yards per game. Samford has ten rushing touchdowns.

The Citadel is next-to-last in rushing defense, and is allowing a league-worst 5.1 yards per rush. Incidentally, that was also the case when these two teams met last season, only at that time the Bulldogs were giving up 6.2 yards per rush (league games only).

Samford is third-best in offensive third down conversion rate (47.9%). The Citadel is second in defensive third down conversion rate (34.8%).

SU has a red zone TD rate of 58.5%, sixth-best among SoCon squads in the league. The Citadel’s red zone defensive TD rate (57.1%) ranks third in the conference.

Samford has attempted the fewest fourth-down conversion attempts among SoCon teams (going 1 for 4). Opponents of The Citadel have tried twelve fourth-down attempts, converting eight times.

Samford is fifth in the league in scoring defense, allowing 25.2 points per game. SU is next-to-last in total defense (5.4 yards allowed per play) and sixth in rushing defense (4.4).

The Citadel is third in total offense (averaging 6.4 yards per play) and leads the league in rushing offense (a category in which the Bulldogs currently rank third nationally, trailing Cal Poly and Kennesaw State). The Bulldogs are next-to-last in passing yardage per game; as mentioned above, however, The Citadel is averaging a league-best 10.7 yards per pass attempt.

Samford is currently next-to-last in pass defense, but that is misleading. SU is second in the SoCon in pass efficiency defense, and leads the conference in interceptions with ten. Samford has 13 sacks, second among league teams behind Chattanooga.

At 54.7%, The Citadel leads the conference (and is fifth nationally) in offensive third down conversion rate. Samford is fourth in the SoCon in defensive third down conversion rate, at 38.9%.

The Citadel has an offensive red zone TD rate of 69.6%, third-best in the league. Samford’s red zone defensive TD rate is 44.4%, which ranks second among conference teams (trailing only Chattanooga’s 33.3%).

The Cadets are 2 for 7 on fourth down so far this season. Samford’s defense has faced eleven fourth-down conversion attempts, and has prevented a first down on seven of those occasions, an excellent rate.

Samford is +4 in turnover margin (gained fourteen, lost ten), tied for the top spot in the league in that category. The Citadel is exactly even in turnover margin (gained twelve, lost twelve).

The Citadel has only attempted four field goals so far this season, making three of them. Samford has tried eight FGs, converting five.

Samford is last among conference teams in net punting (averaging 31.9 yards net per punt), while The Citadel is second (38.4). Samford and The Citadel rank 1-2 among SoCon squads in kickoff coverage.

While the military college is fifth-best in kickoff returns, Samford has the best kickoff return average in the conference (26.7 yards per return, including a 100-yard touchdown return by Karel Hamilton against Chattanooga).

SU is last in the league in time of possession (26:59). The Citadel is fifth in that statistic (29:57).

The Birmingham Bulldogs are averaging 76 offensive plays from scrimmage per game, second-most in the SoCon (only Mercer’s offense averages more). When combined with the TOP numbers, that comes out to about 2.81 plays per minute. It’s very much a hurry-up offense.

From Samford’s game notes:

In its first five games, Samford has had 13 scoring drives that have lasted less than two minutes, and seven that have lasted less than a minute. The times of those drives were: 0:20, 0:38, 0:39, 0:40, 0:45, 0:47, 0:47, 1:08, 1:24, 1:25, 1:45, 1:51 and 1:58.

The Citadel’s offense averages 65.8 plays per contest, with a 2.19 plays-per-minute rate.

One interesting tidbit: Samford is far and away the top team in the SoCon when it comes to opponents’ penalties and penalty yardage. Opponents are averaging committing eight penalties per game against Samford, giving up 87.8 yards per contest in penalty yardage.

The Citadel’s opponents have only been flagged for 5.2 penalties per game (40.0 yards), second-fewest in the league. Bulldog fans are not surprised by that.

This is Samford quarterback Michael Eubank’s second year in the program after transferring from Arizona State, where he played for three years (redshirting his freshman campaign).  The native of California is completing 70.5% of his pass attempts (an improvement over last season’s 63.3%), averaging 8.3 yards per attempt, with ten touchdowns against four interceptions.

According to Mike Houston, Eubank (6’5″, 250 lbs.) has a quicker, cleaner throwing motion this season. Houston theorized during his weekly press conference that Eubank’s improvement in that area could be attributed to instruction from Chris Hatcher.

Denzel Williams (5’10”, 215 lbs.) was a preseason first-team All-SoCon selection. Though he leads the team in rushing attempts and yards, he actually hasn’t started a game this season; instead, sophomore K’rondis Larry (5’6″, 150 lbs.) has started every game and has almost as many carries as Williams. Both Williams and Larry are averaging at least 5 yards per rush, and both are capable receivers out of the backfield.

In looking over some numbers from last season, I noticed that Williams has added almost 25 lbs. to his frame this year.

Speaking of weight, Samford has a large offensive line. The starters average 6’3″, 297 lbs.

Right tackle Gunnar Bromelow was a first team all-league pick by the league’s coaches last year. Left guard Hayden Naumann started eleven games last season for UAB before transferring to Samford; he lines up next to left tackle Wesley Carter, himself a former UAB player who transferred to Samford two years ago.

Karel Hamilton is only a junior, but he is second among all SoCon players in career receptions, yardage, and touchdown catches. This year he is averaging six receptions per contest (11.3 yards per catch). Last season, Hamilton (6’1″, 210 lbs.) was an all-league selection by both the coaches and media members after putting up a 55-877-6 line in eleven games.

He is one of several talented pass-catchers that line up for Samford. Emmanuel Obajimi, a part-time starter last season, has three touchdown receptions so far this year.

Freshman Kelvin McKnight (5’8″, 185 lbs.) caught a 66-yard TD against Central Arkansas in his first collegiate game, and has also carried the ball a few times for the Birmingham Bulldogs. He had a 37-yard touchdown run against Chattanooga.

Tight end Tony Philpot had 4 catches for 72 yards and a TD last year against The Citadel. He has six receptions so far this season.

Under defensive coordinator Bill D’Ottavio, Samford has generally featured a “Bear” front against The Citadel’s triple option attack, and has been successful doing so more often than not.

From 2010-12, The Citadel was only 6 for 39 on third-down conversion attempts against Samford (15.3%). That has changed slightly in the last two meetings, as in 2013-14 the Bulldogs were 15-36 converting third downs, a considerably more respectable 41.7%.

The Citadel has really struggled in the passing game against Samford in the last two seasons, however, with a combined total of just 115 passing yards (averaging a putrid 4.1 yards per pass attempt).

Samford’s strength on defense starts with defensive tackle Michael Pierce, a redshirt senior and probably the favorite for the SoCon’s Defensive Player of the Year award. He was big enough last year at 309 lbs., but he is now listed at 6’0″, 340 lbs.

Pierce, who has 6.5 tackles for loss this season (already more than he had all of last year), began his college career at Tulane. He is the older brother of Myles Pierce, a sophomore linebacker at The Citadel.

Michael Pierce had two sacks last week against VMI, and also added a two-yard touchdown run after lining up as a fullback on offense.

Middle linebacker Justin Cooper was a preseason all-league selection. He had 17 tackles last season against The Citadel, and leads Samford in tackles this season.

Free safety Jamerson Blount, a second team All-SoCon pick last year by the league’s coaches and by its media members, is second on the team in tackles. Cooper and Blount both have intercepted two passes this season.

James Bradberry is in his fourth year as a starting cornerback at Samford. Bradberry has intercepted exactly two passes in each of his first three seasons for SU; he has none so far this year.

Anthony Pistelli is Samford’s placekicker, and also handles kickoffs. So far this season, Pistelli is 5 for 7 on field goal attempts, with a long of 37. Both of his misses have come from outside 40 yards.

Punter Austin Barnard is averaging 42.3 yards per boot, but as mentioned, Samford is last in the league in net punting. Barnard, who also holds for placekicks, began his college career at Miami (FL).

Karel Hamilton had that 100-yard kickoff return for a TD against UTC referenced earlier, but it was one of only two kicks he has returned this year. K’rondis Larry is the primary kick returner for Samford.

Kelvin McKnight and Gavin Sinclair (a fellow wide receiver) are the main punt returners for SU.

Per Phil Steele’s preseason rankings, Alec Hulmes is the SoCon’s top long snapper. Hulmes ranked 9th among all FCS long snappers, according to Steele.

Hulmes, a senior from Garner, North Carolina, was also a preseason All-SoCon second team choice on the offensive line. I am not sure how, as he has no career starts on the line (or, I suppose, at any position).

I assume there is a story behind that…

Odds and ends:

– Per one source that deals in such matters, Samford is an eight-point favorite over The Citadel. The over/under is 56.

– Seibert Stadium is named for Finley Page Seibert, Jr., who donated money for the completion of the facility in 1961 (adding stands on the west side). At the time, Bobby Bowden was the school’s head coach.

– Samford has 36 players from Alabama on its roster, the most from any state. Other states represented: Georgia (31), Florida (24), Tennessee (9), North Carolina (4), California (3), Kentucky (3), Mississippi (3), Texas (2), and one each from Oregon, Arkansas, and Alaska.

– The Citadel has five Alabama natives on its squad: Cam Jackson, James Riley, Tyus Carter, Myles Pierce, and Tyler Jackson.

– Samford has 15 transfers from other four-year universities on its roster, including 13 from FBS schools. Seven of them are in the Birmingham Bulldogs’ starting lineup.

– Saturday’s contest will be Samford’s first home game since September 19, a 31-21 loss to Chattanooga.

– I quoted this in the links section, but during one of his post-practice interviews Chris Hatcher made a reference to what he called “physical swagger”. I don’t remember hearing that expression before, but I kind of like it.

– The Citadel is apparently wearing yet another uniform color combination, this time what the equipment staff calls “summer leave” (white jerseys and those ugly, non-standard gray pants).

This game has an element of the unknown to it. Neither team has really played a similar opponent.

While The Citadel has excellent pass defense statistics, it is only fair to note that the Bulldogs have only played one team this season (Western Carolina) that had anything resembling a regular passing attack. (No, I’m not counting Davidson.)

On the other hand, Samford hasn’t faced a team quite as committed to the run as The Citadel.

The Citadel has to get pressure on Michael Eubank, or it will be a long day at the office for the defense. I think the secondary has been legitimately excellent for the Bulldogs this season, regardless of the opposition’s passing ability, but any coverage will eventually break down if the quarterback has all day to throw the football.

Being able to consistently tackle in space will also be important for The Citadel in this contest.

I wouldn’t be surprised if The Citadel’s offensive game plan resembles the one from last week. That includes the judicious use of the forward pass, particularly on short-yardage plays.

Tyler Renew had a good game against Samford last year (102 rushing yards), so he may get a chance to repeat his fine effort versus Wofford.  Another player to watch: Vinny Miller, who two years ago rushed for 95 yards against SU.

The Bulldogs were solid on special teams against Wofford, and that must continue against Samford. There may be an opportunity for The Citadel on that front, as the special teams outfit that arguably shined the most against the Terriers (the punt return squad) is matched up against what is on paper SU’s weakest special teams unit.

Over the past few years, this matchup has usually been close. I don’t expect that to change on Saturday.

College Football TV Listings 2015, Week 7

This is a list of every game played during week 7 of the college football season involving at least one FBS or FCS school.  All games are listed, televised or not.  For the televised games (only live broadcasts are listed), I include the announcers and sideline reporters (where applicable).  I put all of it on a Google Documents spreadsheet that can be accessed at the following link:

College Football TV Listings 2015, Week 7

Additional notes:

– I include ESPN3.com games; they are denoted as “ESPN3″.

– I also list digital network feeds provided by various conferences when they are free of charge. For some of these feeds, the audio will be a simulcast of the home team’s radio broadcast. Other online platforms have their own announcers.

For now, the digital networks I am including in the listings are those for the Mountain West, Big Sky, Big SouthOVC, NEC, SoCon, and Patriot League.

Occasionally individual schools (almost always at the FCS level) provide video feeds free of charge. When that is the case, I list those as well.

– I am not including games in which one of the participants is a “non-counter”, as these are de facto exhibition contests.

– I also do not include PPV telecasts, regardless of whether or not the matchup in question features FBS or FCS schools. These games are increasingly rare.

– The local affiliates for the ACC Network “national” game of the week (Pittsburgh-Georgia Tech) can be found on a link in the document, and here: Link

– The regional sports networks carrying the ACC Network “regional” games of the week can be found on a note in the document, and here: Syracuse-Virginia and Wake Forest-North Carolina

– Listed in notes on the document are the regional sports networks carrying the following games: FIU-Middle Tennessee State, Montana State-Portland State, Hawai’i-New Mexico

– Local affiliates for American Sports Network games: Western Michigan-Ohio, Princeton-Brown, Charlotte-Old Dominion, Sam Houston State-Abilene Christian, Villanova-Albany, Eastern Illinois-Tennessee State, UTSA-Southern Mississippi

– Coverage map for the ABC/ESPN2 noon ET games, Mississippi-Memphis and Iowa-Northwestern

– BTN (formerly Big Ten Network) “gamefinder”:  Link

– AP Poll (FBS):  Link

– FCS Coaches’ Poll:  Link

A lot of the information I used in putting this together came courtesy of Matt Sarzyniak’s totally comprehensive and utterly indispensable site College Sports on TV, a must-bookmark for any fan of college sports.

Also to be credited, as always, are the indefatigable information collectors (and in some cases sports-TV savants) at the506.com. I am also assisted on occasion by helpful athletic media relations officials at various schools and conferences.