A pleasant surprise on a Saturday afternoon

What a nice day in Charleston (even if it was hot).

Game story in The Post and Courier

AP game story

WCSC-TV report (video)

Colby Kintner’s immediate postgame reaction (from a tweet by WCIV-TV’s Scott Eisberg)

Box score

I won’t be able to immediately review too many contests this season, but I figured this game was worth a post…

East Tennessee State The Citadel
Field Position 37.8 23.3
Success Rate 50.98% 44.93%
Big plays (20+ yards) 4 3
Finishing drives (average points) 2.0 5.0
Turnovers 1 0
Expected turnovers 0.22 0.22
Possessions 9 10
Points per possession 1.89 2.00
Offensive Plays 51 70
Yards/rush (sacks taken out) 7.46 4.10
Yards/pass attempt (including sacks) 6.28 6.83
Yards/play 6.88 4.57
3rd down conversions 2 of 8 5 of 14
4th down conversions 0 of 1 1 of 1
Red Zone TD% 25.00% 66.67%
Net punting 21.8 32.6
Time of possession 20:44 39:16
TOP/offensive play 24.88 sec/play 33.18 sec/play
Penalties 8 for 80 yards 12 for 71 yards
1st down passing 7-9, 121 yards 2-4, 17 yards
3rd and long passing 1-5, 9 yards 0-1
4th down passing 0-1 0-0
1st down yards/play 8.21 5.32
3rd down average yards to go 9.33 7.15
Defensive 3-and-outs+ 2 1

Random thoughts on the action:

  • Sometimes, someone will offer the opinion that The Citadel runs the B-back up the middle too often. Then, Logan Billings breaks two 30+ yard runs on the game’s final drive, and someone has an epiphany.
  • B-backs carried the ball on 55% of the Bulldogs’ rushes against ETSU, while QB Peyton Derrick rushed on 29% of the ground attempts. That left just eight carries for the A-backs; Nkem Njoku’s sole rush was his 5-yard touchdown.
  • One of the issues with getting the A-backs more involved is clearly the new perimeter blocking rules. That was noticeable on a couple of plays during the game, particularly one where Cooper Wallace looked to have an potential open field with a blocker and just one defender in front of him, but the blocker couldn’t cut the ETSU player’s legs, and the end result was a tackle for loss. I think in past years that play normally would have gone for about 20 yards.
  • The Citadel generally did a good job of getting into manageable third-down situations; in the table above, you can see the average yards-to-go on third down was 7.15 yards, but if you take out a 3rd-and-30 early in the fourth quarter, the average was 5.25 yards (including three 3rd-and-1 plays).
  • Billings’ two late runs were two of the only three offensive plays for the Bulldogs that gained 20+ yards. (The other was a 31-yard run by Jay Graves-Billips on the game’s opening drive.)
  • Another potential play of 20+ yards, Ben Brockington’s would-be reception, was wiped away by a holding penalty. I’m guessing Brockington will have another opportunity or two this season to make an impact in the passing game; I look forward to seeing #97 rumble down the field.
  • ETSU’s offense had four plays of 20+ yards, three of them runs/receptions by the impressive Jacob Saylors. He more than justified his preseason SoCon offensive player of the year selection.
  • That said, the Bulldogs had a very good day on defense. The early goal line stand, the key interception by Destin Mack, holding ETSU to a field goal in the 4th quarter when the Bucs had a first down on The Citadel’s 13-yard line…lots of excellent work all the way around.
  • ETSU had five possessions (out of nine) in which the Bucs had a first down inside the Bulldogs’ 40-yard line. Points on those drives: 0, 7, 0, 0, 3.
  • Conversely, The Citadel’s offense had the ball four times inside ETSU’s 40. Points on those drives: 3, 7, 7, 3. That was arguably the difference in the game.
  • Thanks to Dominick Poole’s 50-yard punt return (which set up the first TD), The Citadel actually had the edge in net punting. However, that is clearly an area in which the Bulldogs need to improve (and don’t forget about the multiple formation penalties).
  • Melvin Ravenel took out two ETSU players on that punt return.
  • The Citadel held the ball for almost two-thirds of game time (39:16), including five possessions of more than four minutes in duration. That limited the number of total possessions for each team (East Tennessee State had nine drives in the game, with just three in the first half).
  • I mentioned this on Twitter, but I’ll state it here as well. There is no good reason that a game not on national television, one in which the two teams involved combined for just 36 pass attempts (and only 121 total plays, a fairly low total), should take 3 hours and 16 minutes to complete. That was partly due to game administration by the officials, but the ridiculous number of TV breaks were also a factor.

Off the field (mostly):

  • I enjoyed the contest in which a cadet had to play “Deal or No Deal”. He correctly chose to deal, but made the classic mistake of choosing the ‘B’ bag — for Band Company, he said — and wound up with an ear of corn. (He should have chosen the ‘A’ bag for Alpha Company.)
  • I’m not going to write a angry 1500-word screed about the uniforms, because we won, etc., but The Citadel should wear light blue jerseys with white pants at home. Always. (Also, the dark blue pants/light blue tops combination is aesthetically displeasing.)
  • The scoreboard operator(s) appeared to have an issue with the statistical totals for much of the third quarter, but it eventually got fixed.
  • I didn’t see any problems with the cadets’ move to the other side of the West stands.
  • Suggestion: someone in the department of athletics should make a courtesy call to the City of Charleston, requesting that the numerous and large potholes in the B and C parking lots be filled in before Parents’ Weekend.
  • The crowd was reasonably lively. It helped that the team got off to a good start.

Next week: at Mercer. That will not be easy.

I might have another post later in the week. Or I might not. It’s going to be one of those weeks.

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