Game Review, 2016: East Tennessee State

The Citadel 45, East Tennessee State 10.

Links of interest:

Game story, The Post and Courier

Game story, Johnson City Press

Video from WCSC-TV, including interviews with Brent Thompson, Cam Jackson, Dominique Allen, and Jorian Jordan

Video from WCIV-TV, along with (via Twitter) some “raw” first-half highlights

– School release

Box score

The Citadel’s post-game notes

Post-game quotes from ETSU head coach Carl Torbush

Photo gallery from East Tennessee State (via Facebook)

Game highlights

Midway through the first quarter, I knew that The Citadel was going to win. It wasn’t a case of overconfidence, either. It was just obvious.

It felt odd to watch a conference game in such a way. I’m used to being nervous and annoyed and generally unsettled while watching The Citadel play; to not have an angst-ridden experience while cheering on the Bulldogs was strange.

I wasn’t entirely comfortable with being comfortable. However, I suspect I could get used to it.

At any rate, the next relaxing afternoon at Johnson Hagood Stadium will not take place anytime in the near future, as Samford comes to town on Saturday and presents a major challenge for the Cadets. I’ll write about the Birmingham Bulldogs in my game preview later this week.

For now, a few brief thoughts on the game against ETSU:

– The post-game notes package provided by the school included this factoid: the 35-point margin of victory over ETSU was the highest by the Bulldogs in a SoCon game since The Citadel won 44-7 at Elon in 2006.

The last time The Citadel had beaten a conference foe at Johnson Hagood Stadium by 35+ points prior to Saturday? That was in 2001, when the Bulldogs beat VMI 49-7. Before that, you have to go back to 1992 to find a 35+ point home victory over a league opponent (that was also VMI; the score was 50-0).

The most recent such home result before last Saturday that did not involve VMI was a 41-0 win against Marshall in 1978.

– The Citadel was able to rest some of its starters and other key performers for a significant portion of the second half. That may prove very beneficial for those players on the defensive side of the ball, who will need to be fresh this week.

In its loss to Mississippi State on Saturday, Samford ran 104 offensive plays from scrimmage, an extremely high number. How high?

Well, in the overtime victory at Wofford, The Citadel’s defense was on the field for 67 snaps — the most plays faced by the Bulldogs’ D in a game all season.

– A total of 56 Bulldogs saw action against East Tennessee State. Only 46 players took the field for both the Chattanooga and Wofford games.

Of those who played on Saturday, 24 recorded a defensive statistic, the most Bulldogs to do so in a game this year.

– As the players ran onto the field before the game through the “Block C” formation, they were followed by General and Boo. The two dogs wound up near the home sideline as their respective handlers tried to avoid the cadet and player traffic.

I noticed Brent Thompson pet both dogs as he stood along the sideline. I’m not sure how many head coaches have interacted with live animal mascots just before kickoff. At least, it’s not something I’ve seen before.

– The Bulldogs committed a couple of penalties on punt returns on Saturday, which is something that needs to get cleaned up. Having said that, one of the penalties was the very definition of ticky-tacky.

Kailik Williams was assessed an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty midway through the fourth quarter. Why? Because after an outstanding punt return by DeAndre Schoultz, Williams was ruled to have stepped out of the sideline “box” area while celebrating.

He did not race onto the field, or make a spectacle of himself. Williams merely walked along the sideline with his arm upraised.

For reasons not immediately clear, one of the officials decided to throw a flag. Perhaps he needed to make his quota.

After watching the replay, ESPN3 analyst Sadath Jean-Pierre said, “That’s a tough call.” It was a very polite thing for him to say.

Remember, if a player gets two unsportsmanlike conduct penalties, he is ejected from the game. Imagine if someone got thrown out for that in a tight game.

– Despite rushing for 427 yards against East Tennessee State, The Citadel no longer leads FCS in rush yards per game. That is because Cal Poly rushed for 527 yards in a 59-47 win over Sacramento State.

Like the Bulldogs, the Mustangs run a version of the triple option. If you’re curious to see what the west coast TO looks like, here is a link to the game highlights from Cal Poly’s victory: Link

– Here is something worth the attention of anyone interested in playoff berths and seeding possibilities:

On Thursday [November 3], the selection committee will release the first of three weekly Top 10 rankings – much like what happens on the FBS level. It’s a new feature of the committee leading into Selection Sunday on Nov. 20. The first rankings will be aired on ESPN’s “College Football Live,” which begins at 3 p.m. ET.

Sam Houston State is top-ranked in the STATS FCS Top 25 and in other leading FCS polls. But the Bearkats, playing in a relatively down Southland Conference, are lacking a high strength of schedule, so the committee may not have them atop its first rankings.The STATS postseason projection has had the Bearkats as the fourth seed in recent weeks, behind North Dakota State, Eastern Washington and Jacksonville State.

The Citadel should be in the initial Top 10 rankings. That doesn’t mean the Bulldogs will be, of course. I wouldn’t be totally shocked if the selection committee shoehorned six or seven MVFC squads into the rankings, or some other absurdity.

It will be interesting to compare the Massey Ratings (and other ratings/polls) to the selection committee’s rankings. This is what the Massey Ratings Top 10 looks like, as of this week:

  • North Dakota State – 1
  • Eastern Washington – 2
  • Jacksonville State – 3
  • Central Arkansas – 4
  • The Citadel – 5
  • Youngstown State – 6
  • South Dakota State – 7
  • Sam Houston State – 8
  • Charleston Southern – 9
  • Chattanooga – 10

Samford, by the way, is #11 in the Massey Ratings, and has a victory over #4 Central Arkansas.

One thing you may have noticed about the Massey Ratings is that no CAA team is in the Top 10. I am quite sure that at least one CAA team will be in the NCAA selection committee’s top 10 when its rankings are released on Thursday.

This week’s pictures are not as bad as those from last week, which is faint praise. They are (mostly) annotated, however. Most of the game action photos are from the first half.




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