Game Review, 2017: Newberry

Links of interest:

Game story, The Post and Courier

“Notes” package, The Post and Courier

Photo gallery, The Post and Courier

AP game story

School release

– Video from WCSC-TV, including postgame discussion with Brent Thompson, Dominique Allen, and Cam Jackson

– Video from WLTX-TV

Game highlights (video)

Boxscore

It wasn’t the easiest of season openers, but it wasn’t supposed to be. Newberry is an experienced D-2 squad that won 10 games last season. The game wasn’t meant to be a walkover, but a test.

The Bulldogs received that test, and they passed it. The grade won’t be perfect (Brent Thompson said the marks for the offense would be “about a C-“), but the end result was a win, and a good one.

During Todd Knight’s tenure as head coach, Newberry had played four other FCS programs. Three of those contests were one-score affairs, and the fourth was decided by 11 points. When that recent history is taken into consideration, The Citadel’s 31-14 victory on Saturday night looks even better.

A quick glance at the statistics shows that the Bulldogs largely controlled the game from start to finish, even though it took a while for the scoreboard to reflect that.

The Citadel Newberry
Starting field position TC 29 NC 25
Efficiency 45.3% (34/75) 39.6% (21/53)
Explosiveness 1.064 1.024
Finishing drives 4.8/poss 4.7/poss
Turnover margin +2 -2
Yards per play on 1st down 8.09 6.34
Avg. yards to gain on 3rd down 5.13 7.00
Passing down success rate 26.1% (6/23) 18.8% (3/16)
Time of possession 35:24 24:36
Off. plays from scrimmage 76 55
Yards per play 6.0 5.0
Yards per play (rush) 5.9 2.5
Yards per play (pass attempt) 6.2 7.2
Off. 3rd down conversion rate 50.0% (8/16) 30.0% (3/10)
Off. plays of 20+ yards 5 5
Penalties 2 for 12 yards 2 for 20 yards

Notes on the numbers:

  • Not counted in the field position, efficiency, and explosiveness categories: Newberry’s last drives of the both the first and second halves (two plays each), and The Citadel’s last drive of the second half (one play)
  • In the category for yards per play on first down, Newberry also had two interceptions
  • The Citadel advanced inside the 40-yard-line five times; Newberry did so three times (of course, on one of those the Wolves’ drive originated inside the 10)
  • Successful plays from scrimmage by quarter: 1st – The Citadel 9, Newberry 1; 2nd – The Citadel 13, Newberry 2 (one via penalty); 3rd – The Citadel 2, Newberry 10; 4th – The Citadel 10, Newberry 8

While The Citadel only had two “successful” offensive plays from scrimmage in the third quarter, one of them was decisive. That would be Cam Jackson’s 74-yard TD burst.

The play featured a subtle but important move by Dominique Allen; as described by Jackson, Allen managed to prevent the linebackers from “skating” outside before the pitch. There were two key blocks as well, one by wide receiver Raleigh Webb, and another by left tackle Prince Howard-Whitaker.

The rest of the run consisted of Jackson hitting the seam, brushing aside a would-be tackler with an almost nonchalant stiff-arm, then racing down the sidelines for six points.

Odds and ends:

– Both teams should get credit for the lack of penalties in an opener. That was particularly impressive (and/or surprising) for Newberry, which even in its successful 2016 campaign had a tendency to be flagged at a higher-than-average rate.

– The attendance (7,467) was disappointing. Part of it can probably be attributed to the weather, although the ominous forecasts in the middle of the week did not come to pass. Perhaps the opponent wasn’t enticing enough for some, though Newberry did bring its fair share of fans.

Also possible factors: a home game for Clemson, and a game in Charlotte for South Carolina. The absence of the East stands (beer garden excepted) certainly doesn’t help, either.

– Speaking of the beer garden, it was hard to tell from across the field how much action was taking place in the tent. One observer told me that the area did fill up over the course of the game.

– Many complaints were made by fans during and after the game about the scoreboard, mostly concerning the yardage numbers not being updated. Apparently that section is inoperable. Is it already time for a new scoreboard?

– There were also complaints about the uniforms. At this point I’m not even sure why I write about the uniforms, since it is clearly a waste of time to do so. I’ll throw a few words together about this topic anyway, however.

The “new” navy/navy combo was announced on Friday, so it wasn’t a shock. It isn’t really a new color combination, as The Citadel wore all-navy a couple of times several years ago, when Nike supplied the uniforms and the Bulldogs essentially wore UNC designer hand-me-downs.

What was not expected: that the Bulldogs would ditch the “Block C” helmets in favor of numbers (in navy) a la Alabama or Georgia Southern. After decades of changing the helmet logo on a yearly (if not weekly) basis, the program finally settled on an appropriate and simple design that almost everyone likes…and now it’s been dropped (at least for the moment) once again.

Perhaps it will be back next week. Who knows at this point.

Alumni can complain about the absence of light blue jerseys at home games, but no one is really listening.

The fact is that light blue is no longer one of the school’s primary athletic colors. There hasn’t been an official announcement to that effect, but there doesn’t have to be.

It’s reality, and reality that has been noticed by anyone who has attended games at Johnson Hagood Stadium over the past eight years. These days, fans are just as likely (actually more likely) to see the Bulldogs wearing almost any other color.

I fully expect black home jerseys (and helmets) this season or next, along with the now-commonplace navy and gray jerseys, and wouldn’t be surprised to see the team in red or chartreuse.

I know, I know — “Who cares as long as they win?” Well, I don’t see why they can’t win while wearing the traditional colors too.

As I said earlier, however, light blue is no longer one of the school colors, so it really doesn’t matter.

Next week’s opponent: Presbyterian, which lost 51-7 to Wake Forest last Thursday night. I’ll post my preview of the game against the Blue Hose later this week.

As is tradition, I took bad pictures. The action shots are actionable.

I hope to improve on this front in the weeks to come, but there are no guarantees.

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