During the 2016 season, what teams will the Bulldogs’ opponents play before (and after) facing The Citadel?

That’s right, it’s time for the annual July topic. In this post, I take a look at football schedules, and note which teams The Citadel’s opponents face before and after playing the Bulldogs. Sometimes, of course, the answer is “bye”.

Let’s review…

September 1 (Thursday): The Citadel’s first game of the season is a road conference matchup with Mercer. The game will be played on Thursday night, the first time I can recall the Bulldogs not opening the season on a Saturday.

As the opener for both teams, obviously neither will have faced a prior opponent this year. Mercer’s last game was a 47-21 home loss to Samford to close out the 2015 campaign.

After playing The Citadel, the Bears will prepare for another triple option team — Georgia Tech. It will be the first time the schools have met on the gridiron since 1938 (and the first game for Mercer against an FBS opponent since it restarted its football program in 2013).

September 10: Furman makes the trip to Charleston to face the Bulldogs. The Paladins open their 2016 season on Friday night (September 2), travelling to East Lansing for a meeting with Michigan State (the first time Furman has ever played a Big 10 team in football).

The Paladins’ home opener is on September 17, versus Chattanooga. It is the only one of FU’s first four games that will take place in Greenville, as Furman will play at Coastal Carolina on September 24.

September 17: The Citadel makes the journey to Boiling Springs, North Carolina, for a Bulldogs-vs.-Bulldogs battle.

It will be Gardner-Webb’s only home game in the month of September. The Runnin’ Bulldogs open with road games at Elon and Western Carolina before playing The Citadel, and will venture into the world of the MAC on September 24 for a contest against Ohio.

September 24: This is the open week for The Citadel. I’ll be on vacation myself. No, that isn’t a coincidence.

October 1: The Bulldogs will be in Cullowhee on the first day of October, tangling with Western Carolina. Both teams will be coming off a bye week.

WCU plays East Tennessee State in Johnson City on September 17. The game against The Citadel will be the first of two straight home contests for the Catamounts, as they play Wofford on October 8.

Western Carolina has FBS bookends on its schedule this year. WCU opens its season with a game versus East Carolina. There will be plenty of purple in Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium that night.

The Catamounts will conclude regular-season action with a trip to Columbia for an SEC-SoCon Challenge game against South Carolina. Will the local alt-weekly refer to the game as a “cupcake” matchup? I’m guessing it will not.

October 8: After almost a month away from Johnson Hagood Stadium, The Citadel returns home for a Parents’ Day game against North Greenville.

The Crusaders are at home on October 1, facing Mars Hill. After playing The Citadel, the next game for North Greenville is a road matchup versus Tusculum.

October 15: The Bulldogs play Chattanooga in Charleston on this date. The Mocs are at home for both their prior game (Mercer) and the contest that follows (VMI).

After playing eight SoCon games in nine weeks, Chattanooga finishes its regular season campaign with a non-conference clash against Alabama.

October 22: The Citadel faces Wofford in Spartanburg. The Terriers have a bye on October 15. The week following the game against the Bulldogs, Wofford hosts Mercer.

The Terriers open the season with two road games. Wofford plays Mississippi in the second of those contests.

October 29: The Bulldogs play East Tennessee State in the next-to-last home game of the season. The Buccaneers don’t have a bye the week before, but will get a couple of extra days of preparation, as ETSU hosts West Virginia Wesleyan on Thursday, October 20.

East Tennessee State is at Mercer the week following its trip to Johnson Hagood Stadium. ETSU finishes the season with two home games, against Cumberland (yes, the Cumberland of 222-0 fame) and Samford.

November 5: Samford is the Homecoming opponent for The Citadel this year. With the possible exception of Furman, none of the military college’s other opponents has a tougher task the week prior to facing The Citadel. Samford has a matchup at Mississippi State on October 29.

On November 12, Samford holds its own Homecoming game against Mercer.

November 12: The battle for the coveted Silver Shako resumes once again on November 12, this time in Lexington, Virginia. VMI plays at Western Carolina the week before, and concludes its regular season with a game at Wofford the week following this game.

November 19: There will be lots of light blue in Chapel Hill on November 19, as The Citadel comes to town to face North Carolina. The Tar Heels are at Duke on November 12, and have another rivalry game the following week, versus North Carolina State (with that game taking place on the Friday following Thanksgiving Day).

A couple of observations about the schedule:

– Mercer wound up as a de facto “travel partner” of sorts for The Citadel this season. The Bears play Chattanooga the week before the Bulldogs do. Following that, there are three consecutive weeks in which a team will play Mercer the week after playing The Citadel (those three squads being Wofford, East Tennessee State, and Samford).

– As far as “option preview” situations are concerned…

Western Carolina and VMI both face Wofford the week after playing The Citadel. Only two league teams (Samford and East Tennessee State) play Wofford before matchups with The Citadel; both play the Terriers several weeks before meeting the Bulldogs.

North Carolina will play Georgia Tech two weeks before hosting The Citadel in Chapel Hill. North Greenville has a meeting with Lenoir-Rhyne a few weeks before playing The Citadel, but L-R (which has a new head coach) is moving to a more balanced offense after several years running the triple option.

Football season is getting closer…

For Immediate Release: TSA Watch List for the Southern Conference (SoCon), Part 4 — Coach of the Year

Today, TSA announced its watch lists for the 2016 SoCon Player of the Year and various associated positional honors, including quarterback, running back, offensive line, wide receiver, tight end, defensive line, linebacker, defensive secondary, kicker, punter, and long snapper. The watch lists will once again incorporate a broad spectrum of league teams. There will also be a watch list for the TSA SoCon Coach of the Year.

TSA is a member of the Global American College Football Awards Consortium (GACFAC), which encompasses the most prestigious awards in college football. GACFAC is the standard-bearer for tradition-selection excellence.

The membership of TSA unveils the preseason watch lists in a series of four releases, one for offensive players, one for defensive players, one for special teams stalwarts, and one for coaches. All players listed are eligible for TSA’s SoCon Player of the Year, as well as honors for each of their respective positional categories.

Players not listed on any TSA watch list are ineligible for any post-season honors. However, TSA has a unique appeals process by which a player not on a watch list can be nominated for a special exemption. Any players granted such an exemption will be named to their respective TSA late-season watch lists for each positional category, and would become eligible for league player of the year as well.

Head coaches not listed on the TSA watch list are also ineligible for post-season honors. However, TSA’s unique appeals process for players also applies to any SoCon head coach not on the watch list.

Without further ado, here is the TSA watch list for the SoCon Coach of the Year for 2016. Congratulations to all the coaches who were selected.

(As noted earlier, other releases will feature the offensive, defensive, and special teams watch lists.)

Link to watch lists — offense

Link to watch lists — defense

Link to watch lists — special teams

Coaches

Bobby Lamb Mercer
Brent Thompson The Citadel
Bruce Fowler Furman
Carl Torbush ETSU
Chris Hatcher Samford
Mark Speir W. Carolina
Mike Ayers Wofford
Russ Huesman Chattanooga
S. Wachenheim VMI

For Immediate Release: TSA Watch List for the Southern Conference (SoCon), Part 3 — Special Teams

Today, TSA announced its watch lists for the 2016 SoCon Player of the Year and various associated positional honors, including quarterback, running back, offensive line, wide receiver, tight end, defensive line, linebacker, defensive secondary, kicker, punter, and long snapper. The watch lists will once again incorporate a broad spectrum of league teams. There will also be a watch list for the TSA SoCon Coach of the Year.

TSA is a member of the Global American College Football Awards Consortium (GACFAC), which encompasses the most prestigious awards in college football. GACFAC is the standard-bearer for tradition-selection excellence.

The membership of TSA unveils the preseason watch lists in a series of four releases, one for offensive players, one for defensive players, one for special teams stalwarts, and one for coaches. All players listed are eligible for TSA’s SoCon Player of the Year, as well as honors for each of their respective positional categories.

Players not listed on any TSA watch list are ineligible for any post-season honors. However, TSA has a unique appeals process by which a player not on a watch list can be nominated for a special exemption. Any players granted such an exemption will be named to their respective TSA late-season watch lists for each positional category, and would become eligible for league player of the year as well.

Without further ado, here are the TSA watch lists for the SoCon’s special teams standouts. Congratulations to all the players who were selected.

(As noted earlier, other releases will feature the offensive and defensive teams watch lists, and the TSA SoCon Coach of the Year Watch List.)

Link to watch list — offense

Link to watch list — defense

Link to watch list — Coach of the Year, Southern Conference

Long Snappers

Adam Mullins LS RSo. ETSU
Alec Hulmes LS SR Samford
C. Addertion LS RS SR W. Carolina
C. McDonough LS FR W. Carolina
Chase Zeegers LS FR Samford
Dustin Nickle LS RFr. ETSU
Emory Norred LS Jr. Chattanooga
Evan Vaughn LS Fr. Furman
Jackson Wetherby LS RS FR W. Carolina
Jake Keith LS Fr. VMI
John Garrett Abernathy LS JR Mercer
Lee Riley LS So. The Citadel
Lewis Freeman LS FR Samford
Patrick Keefe LS So. The Citadel
Ross Hammond LS So. Wofford
Steven Nixon LS FR Mercer
Tanner Dillard LS So. Chattanooga

Placekickers

Christian Stewart K FR WCU
Cody Clark K Sr. The Citadel
Cole Fisher K FR Mercer
Colin Brewer K Fr. Chattanooga
David Marvin K Jr. Wofford
Dillon Christopher K Sr. VMI
Grant Reynolds K FR Mercer
Henrique Ribeiro K Sr. Chattanooga
Jacob Godek K Fr. The Citadel
Jagger Lieb K SO Mercer
Jake Poczobut K Fr. ETSU
Jeremiah Norman K RFr. VMI
JJ Jerman K So. ETSU
Jody Purnell K FR Samford
Joe DeFatta K RSo. ETSU
Joe Difilippo K Fr. Furman
Jon Croft Hollingsworth K So. Furman
Landon Kunak K RFr. ETSU
Logan Howard K SO WCU
Luke Carter K R-Fr. Wofford
Luke Morris K FR Samford
Marion Watson K So. ETSU
Mark Holtgrave K FR Samford
Nathan Geis K FR Samford
Reece Everett K SO Samford
Reed King K Fr. VMI
Tommy Smith K So. VMI
Tyler Zielenske K JR Mercer
Warren Handrahan K JR Samford

Punters

Austin Barnard P SO Samford
Bill Hogan P RSo. VMI
Brian Sanders P Sr. Wofford
David Marvin P Jr. Wofford
Destry Barnwell P JR WCU
Ian Berryman P RS SO WCU
Jacob Godek P Fr. The Citadel
Jake Poczobut P Fr. ETSU
Joe DeFatta P RSo. ETSU
Jon Croft Hollingsworth P So. Furman
Luke Carter P R-Fr. Wofford
Reed King P Fr. VMI
Rob East P JR Mercer
Seth Hinton P Sr. VMI
Tommy Smith P So. VMI
Will Vanvick P Sr. The Citadel

For Immediate Release: TSA Watch List for the Southern Conference (SoCon), Part 2 — Defense

Today, TSA announced its watch lists for the 2016 SoCon Player of the Year and various associated positional honors, including quarterback, running back, offensive line, wide receiver, tight end, defensive line, linebacker, defensive secondary, kicker, punter, and long snapper. The watch lists will once again incorporate a broad spectrum of league teams. There will also be a watch list for the TSA SoCon Coach of the Year.

TSA is a member of the Global American College Football Awards Consortium (GACFAC), which encompasses the most prestigious awards in college football. GACFAC is the standard-bearer for tradition-selection excellence.

The membership of TSA unveils the preseason watch lists in a series of four releases, one for offensive players, one for defensive players, one for special teams stalwarts, and one for coaches. All players listed are eligible for TSA’s SoCon Player of the Year, as well as honors for each of their respective positional categories.

Players not listed on any TSA watch list are ineligible for any post-season honors. However, TSA has a unique appeals process by which a player not on a watch list can be nominated for a special exemption. Any players granted such an exemption will be named to their respective TSA late-season watch lists for each positional category, and would become eligible for league player of the year as well.

Without further ado, here are the TSA watch lists for the SoCon’s defensive positions. Congratulations to all the players who were selected.

(As noted earlier, other releases will feature the offensive and special teams watch lists, and the TSA SoCon Coach of the Year Watch List.)

Link to watch lists — offense

Link to watch lists — special teams

Link to watch list — Coach of the Year, Southern Conference

Defensive Linemen

A.J. Stokes DL Fr. The Citadel
Adam Wawrzynski DL R-Fr. The Citadel
Ahmad Gooden DL FR Samford
Alex Nolan DL Jr. Wofford
Alfred Brown DL FR Samford
Andre Newton DL FR Samford
Andrew Mayton DL RS JR Western Carolina
Anthony Eads DL FR Samford
Anthony Perella DL JR Mercer
Austin Barrett DL SO Mercer
Austin Rowan DL Fr. ETSU
Austin Wysor DL FR Mercer
Avery Worsham DL SR Western Carolina
Blake Jones DL FR Mercer
Boston Bryant DL Sr. Wofford
Brad Minter DL Jr. Furman
Brad Noble DL SR Samford
Bradley Carter DL So. The Citadel
Brandon Bourk DL Jr. Chattanooga
Brandon Curtis DL Jr. Wofford
Brandon Zamary DL So. Wofford
Brian Ross DL R-Jr. Furman
Caleb Hester DL So. The Citadel
Carew Alvarez DL So. Wofford
Chinedu Okonya DL R-Fr. Furman
Chris Boudreaux DL Sr. Wofford
Chris Bouyer DL So. ETSU
Chris Washington DL Fr. Furman
Cody Jones DL JR Mercer
Colt Jenkins DL RSo. ETSU
Connor Jackson DL R-Fr. Furman
D.J. Prather DL Jr. Chattanooga
Daniel Nash DL SR Western Carolina
DeAndre Thornton DL R-So. Furman
Destin Guillen DL FR Mercer
Devon Johnson DL RFr. ETSU
Dillon Vann DL Fr. Furman
Dorian Kithcart DL FR Mercer
Emeka Ikezu DL SO Samford
Ezavian Dunn DL JR Western Carolina
F. Charles DL RJr. ETSU
Fred Mooring DL SR Western Carolina
Hawk Schrider DL So. Chattanooga
Holden Edwards DL FR Western Carolina
Horace Roberts DL FR Samford
Hudson Brett DL FR Mercer
Ian Hayes DL Fr. Chattanooga
Isaiah Mack DL So. Chattanooga
J.C. Garvin DL RSr. VMI
Jake Helms DL FR Western Carolina
Jake Kingree DL JR Samford
Jalen Penn DL SO Mercer
Ja’Lon Williams DL R-Fr. The Citadel
James Stone DL Sr. Chattanooga
Jared Holloway DL JR Samford
Jarrod Richmond DL RFr. VMI
Jason Maduafokwa DL RFr. ETSU
Jay Gibbs DL RS FR Western Carolina
Jaylan Reid DL R-Fr. Furman
Joe Crochet DL Sr. The Citadel
Joe Dossett DL So. ETSU
Joe Pittman DL RFr. ETSU
John Mobley DL RSo. VMI
Jonah Tibbs DL Fr. Furman
Jonathan King DL Jr. The Citadel
Jordan Harris DL Fr. Furman
Jordan Hawkins DL Jr. Furman
Jose Casanova DL SR Samford
Joseph Randolph II DL Fr. The Citadel
Justin Foster DL FR Samford
Justin King DL Sr. Chattanooga
Justin Minick DL SR Samford
Keionta Davis DL Sr. Chattanooga
Kelly Brooks DL JR Mercer
Ken Allen DL So. The Citadel
Kevin Graham DL So. The Citadel
Khayyan Edwards DL Fr. Chattanooga
Marvin Davis DL JR Mercer
Matt DeGraffinreed DL RS SR Western Carolina
Mikel Horton DL Fr. Wofford
Miles Brown DL So. Wofford
Mitchell Smith DL JR Samford
Myreon Bennett DL RS FR Western Carolina
Nasir Player DL RFr. ETSU
Nick Collins DL JR Mercer
Noah Dawkins DL So. The Citadel
Olajuwon Pinkelton DL Fr. ETSU
Robbie Armstrong DL Fr. Wofford
R. Donaldson DL JR Samford
Royce Turnbull DL RJr. ETSU
Ryan Clark DL Fr. VMI
Sam Parker DL Sr. The Citadel
Seth Mallory DL RSr. VMI
Shavon Henderson DL RSo. VMI
Sheldon Kinard DL RS JR Western Carolina
Steven Cornellier DL Jr. Wofford
T.J. Warren DL R-Jr. Furman
Tahjai Watt DL RS JR Western Carolina
Tashion Singleton DL GS Western Carolina
Taylor Reynolds DL Jr. Chattanooga
Telvin Jones DL Fr. Chattanooga
Terrell Woods DL JR Samford
Thad Mangum DL R-Fr. Wofford
Thad Stevenson-Panchisin DL RFr. VMI
Toney Benson DL Jr. Wofford
Tony Zaffore DL So. Chattanooga
Travis Johnson DL Jr. The Citadel
Tra’von Ricketts DL RS FR Western Carolina
Tremond Ferrell DL So. ETSU
Tre’Von White DL So. The Citadel
T. Jachimowicz DL Jr. Chattanooga
Tunde Ayinla DL JR Mercer
Tyler Junius DL JR Western Carolina
Tyler Vaughn DL Jr. Wofford
Vantrel McMillan DL Sr. Chattanooga
Xavier Forrest DL SO Samford
Xavier Greenfield DL Jr. VMI
Zachary Greene DL RS SO Western Carolina
Zack Baker DL RSo. VMI
Zack Lockhart DL Fr. VMI

Linebackers

Aaron Harris LB FR Samford
Alec Happel LB FR Samford
Alijah Robinson LB Sr. VMI
Allan Cratsenberg LB Jr. VMI
Andrew Birkmire LB FR Western Carolina
Austin Chapman LB SO Samford
Austin Gatewood LB RSo. ETSU
Austin Howard LB Fr. ETSU
Austin Mosier LB RFr. ETSU
Bill Hogan LB RSo. VMI
Billy Hinton LB So. Wofford
Blake Bockrath LB Fr. ETSU
Brad Lipscomb LB RSr. VMI
Brandon Brown LB Fr. Wofford
Brian Lipscomb LB RSo. VMI
Byron Johnson LB Jr. Furman
Caleb Lindsey LB Sr. VMI
Campbell Jackson LB R-Fr. Wofford
Carl Rider LB R-Jr. Furman
Carter McManes LB SO Samford
Chris Seaborn LB JR Western Carolina
Cj Kleckley LB JR Mercer
Clark Dupree LB FR Samford
Cody Bennett LB So. Chattanooga
Cody Floyd LB So. The Citadel
Cody Peregoy LB RFr. VMI
C. Cunningham LB RS SR Western Carolina
Colton Clemons LB Jr. Wofford
Colton Lakes LB Fr. ETSU
Connor Riddle LB Fr. VMI
Corey Lockett LB JR Mercer
Cory Carter LB FR Samford
Dale Warren LB Jr. Chattanooga
D’Andre Belton LB RS SO Western Carolina
Daniel Riddle LB RS JR Western Carolina
Darnell Ashton LB Sr. VMI
Daryl Vining LB Jr. Wofford
Datavious Wilson LB Fr. Wofford
Deion Pierre LB SO Samford
Denzel Wright LB Fr. The Citadel
Derek Slaughter LB SR Samford
Derek Wilson LB RFr. VMI
Devin Davidson LB JR Mercer
Dillon Woodruff LB R-So. Furman
D. Perryman LB Fr. Furman
D. Copeland LB Sr. The Citadel
Dorsett Johnson LB FR Samford
Dru Seabrook LB Fr. Furman
Dylan Weigel LB RSo. ETSU
Dylan Young LB Jr. Wofford
Elliott Brewster LB Fr. VMI
Emory McKenzie LB Fr. Furman
Garrett Hicks LB R-Fr. Wofford
Gregory Pappas LB Jr. The Citadel
Isaiah Buehler LB FR Mercer
Israel Battle LB Jr. The Citadel
J.C. Coy LB Fr. VMI
Jack Raines LB FR Mercer
Jacob Powell LB R-Fr. Furman
Jake Brooks LB FR Mercer
Jake Massey LB FR Samford
J. Donahue LB RFr. VMI
JD Griffin LB Fr. ETSU
Jeremy Samuels LB Fr. The Citadel
Jerod Walls LB RS FR Western Carolina
Jerry Langan LB Jr. Furman
Jireh Wilson LB Fr. Wofford
John Patterson LB Jr. Wofford
Jonathan Baker LB Fr. VMI
Jonathan Mooney LB JR Samford
Jonathan Ward LB FR Mercer
Jordan Thomas LB R-Fr. The Citadel
Josh Bennett LB JR Mercer
Josh Killett LB SR Samford
Justin Cooper LB SR Samford
Kahlil Mitchell LB So. ETSU
Kendall White LB JR Western Carolina
K. Wilson LB Fr. Chattanooga
Kuony Deng LB Fr. VMI
Kyle Trammell LB SO Mercer
Kyle Vails LB RS JR Western Carolina
Kyle Williams LB SO Mercer
Lee Bennett LB SO Mercer
Lincoln Stewart LB Sr. Wofford
Luke Davis LB Fr. Chattanooga
Michael Bean LB Fr. Chattanooga
Michael Minder LB RS FR Western Carolina
M. Rainwater LB JR Mercer
Michael Roach LB Jr. Wofford
Michael Wagner LB JR Mercer
Mitchell Chancey LB SO Western Carolina
Myles Pierce LB Jr. The Citadel
Najee Lawrence LB Fr. VMI
Nakevion Leslie LB Sr. Chattanooga
Nathan Sanders LB So. Wofford
Neil Monaghan LB So. Wofford
Phil Davis LB R-Fr. The Citadel
P. Whitehead LB Fr. ETSU
Quinlan Washington LB So. The Citadel
Raleigh Webb LB Fr. The Citadel
River Boruff LB RSo. ETSU
Russell Hubbs LB So. The Citadel
Ryan Francis LB RJr. VMI
Shaheed Salmon LB SO Samford
Spencer Brien LB RSo. ETSU
T.J. Jenkins LB Jr. Chattanooga
Terrance Morris LB Jr. Wofford
Tevin Floyd LB Sr. The Citadel
Tim Whatley LB So. Chattanooga
Tonne Osaigbovo LB JR Samford
Tony Richardson LB Jr. VMI
Tosin Aguebor LB JR Mercer
Tradd Deaver LB R-Fr. The Citadel
Travonte’ Easley LB FR Mercer
Trey Nelson LB Jr. The Citadel
Trey Quillin LB RSo. ETSU
Tripp Patterson LB JR Mercer
Troy Barden LB RJr. VMI
Tyler Fedison LB RFr. VMI
Tyler Queen LB FR Samford
Tyler Voyles LB Fr. Furman
Tyler Ward LB JR Mercer
Tyreik Lyles LB So. Wofford
Tyson Dickson LB SR Western Carolina
Weston Rountree LB So. Wofford
Will Coneway LB FR Mercer
Za’Von Whitaker LB R-Fr. The Citadel

Defensive Backs

A.J. Newman Jr. DB JR WCU
Aaquil Annoor DB Fr. Furman
Aaron Avant DB JR Mercer
Adekunle Olusanya DB R-So. Furman
Adrian King DB Fr. Chattanooga
Alex Avant DB SR Mercer
Alex Burch DB Fr. Furman
Alex Keys DB RSr. VMI
Alonzo Francois DB RSo. ETSU
A. Heyward DB RFr. ETSU
Andy Nichols DB JR Mercer
A. Simpson DB FR Samford
Aron Spann III DB So. The Citadel
Ben Roberts DB Jr. The Citadel
Bobby Gibbs DB RS SO WCU
B. Meccariello DB R-Fr. Furman
Bradley Lythgoe DB Fr. VMI
Brandon Coney DB FR Mercer
Brandon Gurley DB FR Mercer
Bryan Okeh DB Fr. Furman
Bryce Suber DB RFr. ETSU
Bryce Wilson DB RS FR WCU
C.J. Fritz DB So. Chattanooga
C.J. Toomer DB SO Samford
Carl Cunningham Jr. DB So. The Citadel
Cedric Nettles DB Sr. Chattanooga
C. Steverson DB Fr. The Citadel
Charlie Jackson DB RFr. ETSU
Chaz Claunch DB SO Samford
Chris Armfield DB Sr. Wofford
Chris Howard DB RFr. ETSU
C. Gibson DB RFr. ETSU
Christian Stark DB FR Samford
C. Waddell DB Fr. VMI
Cody Brooks DB JR Samford
Cole Higbie DB Jr. Wofford
Curt Nixon DB R-Fr. The Citadel
Curtis Roach DB FR WCU
D.J. Williams DB Fr. Chattanooga
Damian Jones DB RSr. VMI
Daren Ardis DB Jr. ETSU
Darron Paschal DB Fr. Wofford
Dee Delaney DB Jr. The Citadel
D. Cortner DB FR WCU
Devin Watson DB So. Wofford
D. Redwood DB Fr. Wofford
D. Williams DB So. ETSU
D. Lemon DB So. Wofford
Donovan Franks DB R-So. Furman
E. Stawowczyk DB RSo. VMI
Emerson Brooks DB FR Samford
Eric Jackson DB FR Mercer
Fred Payne DB SR WCU
G. Sutherland DB RSo. VMI
George Gbesee DB R-Fr. Wofford
Graham Massey DB So. Wofford
Greg Sanders DB Jr. VMI
Jabari Scruggs DB JR Mercer
Jack Jones DB RSo. ETSU
Jackson Trawick DB Jr. ETSU
Jacob Finerty DB RS FR WCU
Jacque Evangelister DB Fr. Furman
Jaleel Green DB Sr. Wofford
J. Williams DB Jr. Wofford
J. Milliken DB R-Jr. Furman
J. Blount DB JR Samford
Jamond Glass DB FR Samford
Jarek Taylor DB FR Samford
J. Williams DB Fr. ETSU
Jaylon Harden DB Fr. Furman
Jeremy James DB SO Mercer
Jeremy Lewis DB Fr. ETSU
Jevon Gooden DB Jr. ETSU
J. Robinson DB FR Mercer
Joe Farrar DB R-Fr. Furman
John Brannon III DB FR WCU
John Patrick DB Fr. Furman
JoJo Tillery DB So. Wofford
Jon Strozyk DB RJr. VMI
Jordan Willis DB Fr. Furman
Josh Kimberlin DB SR Samford
K.J. Roper DB Fr. Chattanooga
Kaelin Snead DB Fr. VMI
Kailik Williams DB Jr. The Citadel
Kaleb Tucker DB Fr. VMI
Karee Carter DB So. VMI
Kavajae Ellis DB Fr. Furman
Keanu James DB So. ETSU
Keion Crossen DB JR WCU
Kevin Ferguson DB RFr. ETSU
Khafari Buffalo DB R-Fr. The Citadel
L. Bailey DB SO Mercer
Lendell Arnold DB JR Mercer
Le’Vonte Larry DB Fr. Chattanooga
Lucas Webb DB Jr. Chattanooga
Luke Cuneo DB R-Fr. Furman
Luke Stokes DB FR Samford
M. Herrington DB Fr. ETSU
Malik Diggs DB Sr. The Citadel
Malik Rivera DB So. Wofford
Marvin Tillman DB SO WCU
Mason Alstatt DB Fr. Wofford
Matt Azemar DB SO Samford
M. Nicholson DB Sr. VMI
Michael Murphy DB FR WCU
M. Sarafianos DB Jr. Wofford
M. Williams DB RSo. VMI
Mike Gray DB JR Mercer
Mikey White DB SO WCU
Montrell Pardue DB So. Chattanooga
Nathan Peeples DB So. The Citadel
Nevin Harton DB JR Mercer
Nick Barton DB FR Samford
Nick Miller DB Jr. Furman
Nick Payne DB Fr. ETSU
Nick Ward DB Jr. Wofford
Omari Williams DB SO Samford
Patrick Wells DB Fr. Furman
Paul Hunter DB Jr. ETSU
Pete Reed DB RJr. VMI
Phil Barrett DB Fr. The Citadel
Quandarius Weems DB Fr. Furman
Richard Hayes III DB Jr. Furman
R. Charles DB FR Samford
Ryan Powers DB Sr. ETSU
Ryan White DB SO Samford
Sam Pettway DB SO Samford
Scott Frazier DB RJr. VMI
Sean Dumas DB Fr. The Citadel
Sean McMahan DB Fr. Chattanooga
Sean Rusnak DB R-Fr. Furman
Sebastian Hicks DB JR Mercer
Shamon Elliott DB FR WCU
Shane Samuels DB RS JR WCU
Shy Phillips DB Jr. The Citadel
Stephen Gibbs DB FR Samford
Stephen Houzah DB FR Mercer
Stuart Smith DB R-Fr. Furman
S. Brown DB JR Mercer
Tae Davis DB Jr. Chattanooga
Tavian Lott DB Sr. ETSU
Tavon Lawson DB Jr. Chattanooga
Thomas Brown DB R-Jr. Furman
T. DeGrange DB FR Samford
Tony Mitchell DB Fr. ETSU
Tony Welch DB RSo. ETSU
T. Winton DB RSo. ETSU
Tra Hardy DB JR WCU
Trevor Wright DB Jr. Chattanooga
Trey Gowan DB Fr. ETSU
Trey Morgan DB SR WCU
Trey Robinson DB Jr. Furman
Tyler Jackson DB R-Fr. The Citadel
Tyriuq Trotman DB So. VMI
Tyus Carter DB Jr. The Citadel
Ulysses Strawter DB Fr. Wofford
Uzoma Kpaduwa DB RFr. VMI
Zach Jackson DB JR Mercer

For Immediate Release: TSA Watch List for the Southern Conference (SoCon), Part 1 — Offense

Today, TSA announced its watch lists for the 2016 SoCon Player of the Year and various associated positional honors, including quarterback, running back, offensive line, wide receiver, tight end, defensive line, linebacker, defensive secondary, kicker, punter, and long snapper. The watch lists will once again incorporate a broad spectrum of league teams. There will also be a watch list for the TSA SoCon Coach of the Year.

TSA is a member of the Global American College Football Awards Consortium (GACFAC), which encompasses the most prestigious awards in college football. GACFAC is the standard-bearer for tradition-selection excellence.

The membership of TSA unveils the preseason watch lists in a series of four releases, one for offensive players, one for defensive players, one for special teams stalwarts, and one for coaches. All players listed are eligible for TSA’s SoCon Player of the Year, as well as honors for each of their respective positional categories.

Players not listed on any TSA watch list are ineligible for any post-season honors. However, TSA has a unique appeals process by which a player not on a watch list can be nominated for a special exemption. Any players granted such an exemption will be named to their respective TSA late-season watch lists for each positional category, and would become eligible for league player of the year as well.

Without further ado, here are the TSA watch lists for the SoCon’s offensive positions. Congratulations to all the players selected.

(As noted earlier, other releases will feature the defensive and special teams watch lists, and the TSA SoCon Coach of the Year Watch List.)

Link to watch lists — defense

Link to watch lists — special teams

Link to watch list — Coach of the Year, Southern Conference

Quarterbacks

Al Cobb QB RJr. VMI
Albert Mitchell QB SO Samford
A. Bennifield QB Jr. Chattanooga
Alex Matthews QB JR Samford
Austin Coulling QB RFr. VMI
Austin Herink QB RSo. ETSU
Avery Armstrong QB Fr. Furman
Bishop George QB Fr. VMI
Brad Butler QB Jr. Wofford
Brandon Goodson QB Jr. Wofford
Brandon Rainey QB Fr. The Citadel
Carson Barnett QB SR Samford
David Howerton QB Jr. Wofford
Devlin Hodges QB FR Samford
Dominique Allen QB Jr. The Citadel
Drew Pederson QB SO Samford
Duncan Hodges QB Fr. VMI
Dylan Wieger QB RFr. ETSU
Evan Jacks QB Sr. Wofford
Harris Roberts QB R-Fr. Furman
Jake Allen QB FR Mercer
Jake Paladino QB RFr. VMI
Jalen Lampkin QB So. The Citadel
Jes Sutherland QB FR Samford
Joe Newman QB Fr. Wofford
John Mitchell QB FR Mercer
John Russ QB JR Mercer
Jordan Black QB R-Fr. The Citadel
Kalen Whitlow QB RS FR Western Carolina
Logan Bailey QB Fr. The Citadel
Luke Manning QB So. ETSU
Michael Eubank QB SR Samford
Michael Haynes QB JR Mercer
Nick Sexton QB RSo. ETSU
Nolan Beasley QB FR Western Carolina
P.J. Blazejowski QB So. Furman
Reese Hannon QB R-Jr. Furman
Reese Vita QB Fr. Furman
Ryan Burger QB Fr. ETSU
Tanner Brumby QB FR Mercer
Tucker Genal QB R-Fr. Furman
Tyler Roberson QB Jr. Chattanooga
Tyrie Adams QB RS FR Western Carolina
Wes Holcombe QB JR Western Carolina
Xavier Johnson QB So. Chattanooga

Running Backs

Alex Lakes RB SO Mercer
Alex Ramsey RB Fr. VMI
Alex Trotter RB So. Chattanooga
Andre Stoddard RB So. Wofford
Andy Riazzi RB Fr. Wofford
Anthony Preston RB SO Samford
Antonio Wilcox RB So. Furman
Artevius Smith RB RFr. ETSU
Austin Hayworth RB RSo. ETSU
Blake Morgan RB Fr. Wofford
Brice Tucker RB RSo. VMI
C.J. Goodman Jr. RB RS SR Western Carolina
Caleb Brown RB JR Mercer
Cam Jackson RB Jr. The Citadel
Chase Nelson RB Jr. Wofford
Chris Martin RB Jr. Wofford
Chris Miller RB Fr. Chattanooga
Connell Young RB FR Western Carolina
Corey Holloway RB RS SO Western Carolina
Cory Colder RB RSo. ETSU
Darius Morehead RB Fr. Furman
David Abee RB FR Samford
David Pascoe RB So. The Citadel
Dazmine Palmer RB Fr. VMI
Denzel Williams RB JR Samford
Deon Sanders RB Fr. Furman
Derrick Craine RB Sr. Chattanooga
Detrez Newsome RB JR Western Carolina
Devin Carper RB Fr. VMI
D. Spencer RB FR Western Carolina
Donovan Ward RB R-Fr. The Citadel
D. Monroe RB Fr. ETSU
Donte Maxson RB FR Mercer
Ellis Pace RB So. Wofford
Evan McField RB So. The Citadel
Falon Lee RB RJr. ETSU
Frank D’Alonzo RB FR Samford
Grant Drakeford RB So. The Citadel
Haddon Hill RB RFr. ETSU
Hunter Marshall RB RJr. VMI
H. Windham RB Jr. Wofford
Isiaha Smith RB Jr. The Citadel
Jajuan Lankford RB RSo. ETSU
Jajuan Stinson RB RSo. ETSU
Jake Wilks RB JR Samford
James Foushee RB RS SO Western Carolina
J. Chapman RB Fr. Wofford
JeTarii Donald RB JR Mercer
Jonathan Dorogy RB Jr. The Citadel
Jordan Williams RB R-Fr. The Citadel
Justin Curry RB FR Samford
Kealand Dirks RB R-Fr. Furman
K’rondis Larry RB SO Samford
Kyle Nalls RB So. Chattanooga
Kyle Vardo RB RJr. VMI
Lennox McAfee RB So. Wofford
Lorenzo Long RB Sr. Wofford
Luke Childress RB Jr. Wofford
Mason Dermott RB So. VMI
Matt Fox RB RFr. ETSU
Matt Thompson RB RFr. ETSU
Nate Pylant RB FR Mercer
Nick Colvin RB Sr. Wofford
Noah Mitchell RB R-Fr. Furman
Ostin McPherson RB Fr. Wofford
Payton Usher RB JR Mercer
Quan Myers RB So. VMI
Reggie Williams RB Jr. The Citadel
Richardre Bagley RB Jr. Chattanooga
Ridge Gibson RB R-Fr. Furman
Rod Johnson RB So. The Citadel
Roland Adams RB FR Samford
Skyler Matheson RB RS FR Western Carolina
Spencer Alverson RB R-Fr. Wofford
Stanley Robinson RB SR Samford
Tee Mitchell RB SO Mercer
Tony Drew RB RSo. ETSU
Triston Luke RB Fr. Furman
Tyain Smith RB Fr. VMI
Tyler Renew RB Sr. The Citadel
Will Gay RB Sr. Wofford

Wide Receivers

Aaron Sanders WR Sr. VMI
Adam Mitchell WR RFr. ETSU
Alec Mini WR Fr. VMI
A’lencio Graham WR R-Fr. Furman
Alex Johnson WR FR Western Carolina
Alphonso Stewart WR Jr. Chattanooga
Andrej Suttles WR R-Jr. Furman
Andrew Askew WR FR Western Carolina
Andrew Harris WR FR Samford
Andy Schumpert WR So. Furman
A. Spagnoletti WR RFr. ETSU
Armani Helligar WR So. Wofford
Austyn Hennings WR R-Fr. Wofford
Avery Ward WR SO Mercer
Bailey Rogers WR Fr. Furman
Bingo Morton WR So. Chattanooga
Brad Swan Jr. WR RS FR Western Carolina
B. Lemmons WR R-Fr. Furman
Braxton Richburg WR Fr. ETSU
Bryce Motes WR Jr. Wofford
C.J. Board WR Sr. Chattanooga
Caleb Woody WR Fr. ETSU
Cameron Scott WR Sr. The Citadel
Camiel Grant WR FR Mercer
Chad Pritchard WR Sr. ETSU
Chad Scott WR R-Jr. Furman
Chandler Curtis WR SO Mercer
Charles Johnson WR RS FR Western Carolina
Cole Cleary WR So. Wofford
Cole Staton WR SO Mercer
[Disqualified] WR N/A N/A
Dalton Ponchillia WR RJr. ETSU
Dane Forlines WR Sr. VMI
Daquan Patten WR FR Western Carolina
Darius Harvey WR FR Samford
Darius Means WR RS SO Western Carolina
Darius Tenney WR SR Mercer
Darrian Johnson WR RSr. VMI
DeAndre Schoultz WR Sr. The Citadel
D. McQuarters WR So. Chattanooga
Dijon Profit WR Fr. The Citadel
D. Wright-Linton WR Fr. Furman
Dorian Lindsey WR Fr. Wofford
Drake Powell WR So. ETSU
D’Vante Penamon WR JR Mercer
Elijah Mathes WR Fr. ETSU
E. Obajimi WR JR Samford
Evan Jager WR R-Fr. Furman
Gavin Sinclair WR SR Samford
Hank Black WR RSo. ETSU
Hunter Jacobs WR RS JR Western Carolina
Hunter Wike WR RSo. ETSU
Isaiah Gilmore WR Fr. ETSU
Isaiah Parker WR So. VMI
Jack Shoulders WR RFr. ETSU
Jacob Robinson WR RS FR Western Carolina
Jade Maher WR RSo. VMI
James Huston WR FR Samford
James Stovall WR Jr. Chattanooga
Jarred Hill WR RS JR Western Carolina
Jason Hill WR R-Fr. Wofford
Javeon Lara WR Fr. VMI
Javian Ramson WR JR Samford
Jay Gavin WR Fr. VMI
JD Tuten WR R-So. Furman
Jeff Bowens WR SO Mercer
Joey Brown WR RSo. VMI
Jordan Marshall WR JR Mercer
Jordan Mathis WR RS SO Western Carolina
Jorian Jordan WR Sr. The Citadel
Josh Jones WR JR Mercer
Josh LeBlanc WR Fr. The Citadel
Jovany Aris WR RSo. ETSU
Justin Anderson WR SO Samford
Justin Johnson WR FR Mercer
Karel Hamilton WR JR Samford
Keith Coffee WR Fr. ETSU
Kelvin McKnight WR FR Samford
Kendrick Jackson WR Fr. VMI
Kobe Kelley WR So. ETSU
Kota Nix WR So. Chattanooga
Kyle Harrell WR RJr. VMI
Lavell Ellerbe WR FR Western Carolina
Logan McCarter WR R-So. Furman
Luke Hill WR FR Samford
Malik Styles WR RSo. ETSU
Marquise Irvin WR FR Mercer
Matt Blaser WR Fr. VMI
Matt Williams WR Fr. ETSU
Merrick Mullins WR So. ETSU
R.J. Taylor WR Jr. Wofford
Randall Emerson WR RS SO Western Carolina
Rashad Riley WR Fr. The Citadel
Riley Davis WR Sr. Chattanooga
Rohan Martin WR Fr. VMI
Rudder Brown WR Sr. The Citadel
Ryan Knapp WR JR Mercer
Seth Greer WR Jr. The Citadel
S. Robinson WR RS SR Western Carolina
Steffon Hill WR SR Western Carolina
Taylor Stout WR Sr. VMI
Terryon Robinson WR RS JR Western Carolina
Thomas Gordon WR Fr. Furman
Tony Francois WR RSo. ETSU
Tyler Mitchell WR RS FR Western Carolina
Tyran Reynolds WR RS SO Western Carolina
Vaquan Small WR FR Samford
Vincent Lowe WR Jr. ETSU
Wade Smith WR Fr. Furman
Wen Burnette WR FR Samford
Whit Miller WR So. The Citadel
Wil Young WR So. Chattanooga
Will Wampler WR RFr. VMI
William Ramsey WR RS JR Western Carolina
Xavier Borishade WR Sr. Chattanooga

Tight ends

Ajay Williams TE R-Fr. Furman
Aubry Payne TE FR Western Carolina
Austin Phillips TE FR Western Carolina
Bailey Lenoir TE So. Chattanooga
Ben Cottingham TE FR Samford
Bijan Sirleaf TE FR Samford
Bryce Miller TE Fr. Chattanooga
Chad Jacob TE RJr. VMI
Chance Towery TE SO Western Carolina
Chandler Gouger TE Jr. Wofford
Chase Fisher TE FR Western Carolina
Chase Westfall TE FR Mercer
Clarke Miller TE FR Samford
Derek Owings TE JR Mercer
Devon Schmitt TE JR Samford
Duncan Fletcher TE Jr. Furman
Dylan Dockery TE So. ETSU
Eli Grambling TE JR Mercer
Grant Radakovich TE JR Mercer
Justin Gilliam TE So. ETSU
Kevin Carson TE RSo. VMI
Kevin Mall TE R-Jr. Furman
Kevin Marion TE FR Samford
Malcolm Colvin TE Jr. Chattanooga
M. Helms Jr. TE RS SR Western Carolina
Myles Taylor TE RFr. ETSU
Nic Hayes TE Fr. VMI
Nick Karas TE R-Fr. Wofford
Parrish Nichols TE FR Samford
Patrick Dolan TE Fr. VMI
Paul Leveritt TE RSo. ETSU
Riley Gessner TE Fr. Furman
Robert Brown TE JR Mercer
Roderick Poag TE RS JR Western Carolina
Ryan Swingle TE RJr. VMI
Sam Walker TE FR Mercer
Spencer McCoy TE RS FR Western Carolina
Stephen Antonelli TE RSo. ETSU
T.J. Novotny TE Jr. Wofford
Tony Philpot TE SR Samford
Trey Peppers TE FR Mercer
Troy Forrest TE SO Samford
Tyler Sexton TE SR Western Carolina
Tyler Small TE SO Samford
Zander Royston TE RFr. VMI

Offensive Linemen

Aaron Gallagher OL Unknown VMI
Alex Hooper OL Jr. Chattanooga
Alex Rios OL Jr. ETSU
Andrew Lewis OL Sr. VMI
Andrew Miles OL RS SO Western Carolina
Andy Clements OL JR Samford
Andy Godwin OL Fr. Furman
Anton Wahrby OL Sr. Wofford
Antwan Johnson OL FR Samford
A. Bonheur OL JR Samford
Asley Haynes OL RSo. ETSU
Attorney Gallman OL R-Fr. The Citadel
Austin Jacobs OL RS JR Western Carolina
Avery White OL JR Mercer
Bailey Byrum OL FR Western Carolina
Baker Richardson OL FR Samford
Ben Blackmon OL RFr. ETSU
Bennett Eibel OL FR Samford
Blake Jeresaty OL Fr. Wofford
Bo Layton OL Fr. Furman
Bradley Hann OL RSr. VMI
Bradley Way OL Sr. Wofford
Branden Parker OL So. Chattanooga
Brandon Berridge OL RS JR Western Carolina
Brent Rathbone OL RSo. ETSU
Bret Niederreither OL JR Mercer
Brett Steverson OL SO Mercer
Caleb Yates OL SO Mercer
Cameron Parker OL Fr. ETSU
Chad Mitchell OL FR Mercer
Chase Smith OL RSo. VMI
Chase Stehling OL RS SO Western Carolina
Chris Breedlove OL Fr. Furman
Chris Wade OL R-Fr. Furman
Chuck Rouse OL Jr. Wofford
Cody Cornelius OL So. ETSU
Cody Wyatt OL Fr. Furman
Cole Brummit OL RFr. VMI
Connor James OL Fr. ETSU
Connor Rafferty OL SO Samford
Corey Levin OL Sr. Chattanooga
Critt Johnson OL Fr. VMI
Dalton Sullivan OL R-Fr. Wofford
David Raschen OL JR Mercer
David Ricard OL JR Mercer
Dawson Ellis OL FR Mercer
Dequan Miller OL Sr. Wofford
Drew McEntyre OL Fr. The Citadel
Eddie Gajardo OL Fr. ETSU
Ethan James OL SR Western Carolina
Evan Horst OL Fr. Furman
Garrett Curtis OL RFr. ETSU
Garrett Smith OL JR Mercer
George Grimwade OL FR Samford
Gordon Crozier OL JR Samford
Greg McCloud OL RSo. ETSU
G. Bromelow OL SR Samford
Hal Weaver OL SO Mercer
Harrison Monk OL R-Jr. Furman
H. Naumann OL SR Samford
Hugh McFaddin OL Jr. The Citadel
Hunter Townson OL Jr. Chattanooga
Isaiah Pinson OL Jr. The Citadel
I. Roseborough OL RSr. VMI
Jack Bryant OL R-Fr. Furman
Jack Lightsey OL JR Mercer
J. Buonamia OL Jr. Furman
Jacob Conrad OL Fr. Furman
Jacob Milam OL R-Fr. Wofford
Jacob Revis OL Jr. Chattanooga
Jared Braiman OL Fr. VMI
J. Jacon-Duffy OL So. Wofford
J. Bockhorst OL Fr. Furman
J. Bolds-Lockwood OL Jr. Wofford
Jordan Veal OL RSr. VMI
Josh Andre OL Fr. VMI
Josh Burger OL Fr. Wofford
Josh Cardiello OL Jr. Chattanooga
Justin Lott OL Jr. Wofford
Justus Basinger OL R-Fr. Wofford
Kaleb Spry OL RS SO Western Carolina
K. Cadwell OL So. Chattanooga
Kevin McConnell OL RFr. ETSU
Kirby Southard OL JR Mercer
Kyle Weaver OL Sr. The Citadel
Lakin McCall OL Fr. ETSU
Liam Ronan OL R-Fr. Wofford
Malcolm White OL Fr. Chattanooga
Mark Weakland OL Fr. The Citadel
Mason McNutt OL RFr. ETSU
Matt Brewer OL RSo. ETSU
Matt Milner OL RJr. VMI
Matt Pyke OL RSo. ETSU
Matthew Bair OL FR Western Carolina
Matthew Holland OL FR Samford
Matthew Pittarelli OL FR Samford
Matthew Schmidt OL So. Furman
Max Ford OL So. The Citadel
Michael Ralph OL R-Fr. Wofford
Michael Scates OL RSo. ETSU
Mike Jones OL Jr. Wofford
Mike Rentz OL So. The Citadel
Mitch Mathes OL FR Mercer
Mitch Payne OL JR Mercer
Myles Smith OL RFr. ETSU
Nathan Dalton OL RS SO Western Carolina
Nick Jeffreys OL Sr. The Citadel
Nick Taylor OL So. Wofford
Patrick Doucette OL RJr. VMI
Patrick McFall OL RSo. ETSU
P. Howard-Whitaker OL Fr. The Citadel
Reed Kroeber OL Fr. Furman
Reid Huddleston OL FR Samford
Robert Hatcher OL SO Samford
Ronnie Brooks OL Fr. Wofford
Roo Daniels OL Jr. Wofford
Ross Demmel OL So. Wofford
Royus Amos OL JR Samford
Ryan Bednar OL Sr. The Citadel
Ryan Hughes OL JR Samford
Sam Arrington OL JR Mercer
Sammy Hall OL RJr. ETSU
Sawaar Canady OL Fr. VMI
Sean Biette OL RS SO Western Carolina
Spencer Campbell OL RS FR Western Carolina
Stanley Smith OL FR Mercer
Stephen Miller OL RJr. VMI
Sydney Martin OL So. The Citadel
Tanner Poindexter OL RS JR Western Carolina
Taylor Helton OL Fr. Chattanooga
Terrell Bush OL So. Furman
T. Marchman OL SO Mercer
Thomas Pietro OL JR Mercer
Tim Coleman OL Fr. Furman
T. Harkleroad OL So. The Citadel
Truett Moss OL FR Mercer
Tyler Davis OL So. The Citadel
Tyler Kisling OL Fr. VMI
Tyler Martin OL Fr. Chattanooga
Tyler Thacker OL RFr. VMI
Walker Hays OL RJr. VMI
Walker Lanning OL RS FR Western Carolina
Wesley Carter OL SR Samford
Will Morris OL RFr. VMI
William Matney OL FR Samford
Wilson Heres OL SR Mercer
Wyatt Burnette OL FR Western Carolina
Zac Rice OL FR Mercer
Zac Saalweachter OL RS FR Western Carolina
Zach Weeks OL RS SO Western Carolina

Preseason football ratings and rankings, featuring The Citadel (and the rest of the SoCon)

Hey, let’s look at preseason rankings and ratings!

First up, some rankings…

I went to my local Barnes & Noble to check out some preseason magazines. Not all of them include a section for FCS teams, but a few do.

The Sporting News has The Citadel in its preseason Top 25, at #21. However, TSN thinks the Bulldogs will only finish 3rd in the Southern Conference:

1 – Chattanooga (#8 in the Top 25)
2 – Wofford (#19 in the Top 25)
3 – The Citadel (#21 in the Top 25)
4 – Samford
5 – Mercer
6 – Western Carolina
7 – Furman
8 – VMI
9 – East Tennessee State

Lindy’s only has one SoCon team in its top 25 (Chattanooga is ranked 11th). The magazine’s projected conference standings look like this:

1 – Chattanooga
2 – Western Carolina
3 – Mercer
4 – The Citadel
5 – Samford
6 – Wofford
7 – Furman
8 – VMI
9 – East Tennessee State

Athlon doesn’t have an FCS section in its magazine, but its online presence does have an FCS Top 25. The Citadel is ranked 10th in that preseason poll (UTC is #7).

Last season, I started to incorporate the Massey Ratings into my weekly previews as the season progressed. For the uninitiated, a quick primer on this ratings system:

Ken Massey is a math professor at Carson-Newman whose ratings system was used (with several others) for fifteen years by the BCS. He has ratings for a wide variety of sports, but most of the attention surrounding his work has been focused on college football.

A quick introduction of the Massey Ratings, from its website:

The Massey Ratings are designed to measure past performance, not necessarily to predict future outcomes…overall team rating is a merit based quantity, and is the result of applying a Bayesian win-loss correction to the power rating.

…In contrast to the overall rating, the Power is a better measure of potential and is less concerned with actual wins-losses.

…A team’s Offense power rating essentially measures the ability to score points. This does not distinguish how points are scored, so good defensive play that leads to scoring will be reflected in the Offense rating. In general, the offensive rating can be interpretted as the number of points a team would be expected to score against an average defense.

Similarly, a team’s Defense power rating reflects the ability to prevent its opponent from scoring. An average defense will be rated at zero. Positive or negative defensive ratings would respectively lower or raise the opponent’s expected score accordingly.

…the Massey model will in some sense minimize the unexplained error (noise). Upsets will occur and it is impossible (and also counter-productive) to get an exact fit to the actual game outcomes. Hence, I publish an estimated standard deviation. About 68% of observed game results will fall within one standard deviation of the expected (“average”) result.

Preseason ratings are typically derived as a weighted average of previous years’ final ratings. As the current season progresses, their effect gets damped out completely. The only purpose preseason ratings serve is to provide a reasonable starting point for the computer. Mathematically, they guarantee a unique solution to the equations early in the season when not enough data is available yet.

In other words, preseason ratings mean very little. However, it’s July and we certainly need something to keep us going until college football season starts!

Massey rates every college football team — not just FBS and FCS squads, but D-2, D-3, NAIA, junior colleges, even Canadian schools. This season, there are preseason ratings for 923 colleges and universities.

This year, The Citadel is #113 overall in the preseason ratings. As a comparison, the Bulldogs were the preseason #174 squad last season.

As for the teams on The Citadel’s schedule:

  • Mercer — #204
  • Furman — #199
  • Gardner-Webb — #261
  • Western Carolina — #143
  • North Greenville — #312
  • Chattanooga — #106
  • Wofford — #172
  • East Tennessee State — #554
  • Samford — #149
  • VMI — #224
  • North Carolina — #24

Massey gives the Bulldogs a 5% chance of beating North Carolina. You may recall that last year’s preseason odds gave The Citadel a 1% chance of beating South Carolina. You may also recall that The Citadel finished 2016 as the transitive ACC Coastal Division champions.

One of the neat things about the Massey Ratings website is that it has matchup simulations — single games, best-of-seven series, etc. After refreshing a few times, I came up with a simulated result that favored the Bulldogs over UNC (by a 39-38 score). The average score of the simulations was 44-17 North Carolina, but I’m sure that was due to a programming error.

As for the other ten games on The Citadel’s schedule…believe it or not, the Bulldogs are currently projected to win all of them. The likelihood of that happening is remote, obviously, but it’s definitely a far cry from past prognostications.

I’ll go ahead and list the percentage chances of The Citadel winning each of those games, along with the median score, as calculated by the Massey Ratings:

  • at Mercer — 78% (30-17)
  • Furman — 87% (31-14)
  • at Gardner-Webb — 89% (27-7)
  • at Western Carolina — 56% (28-26)
  • North Greenville — 97% (41-10)
  • Chattanooga — 51% (24-23)
  • at Wofford — 66% (28-21)
  • East Tennessee State — 100% (48-3)
  • Samford — 70% (34-24)
  • at VMI — 83% (35-20)

To be honest, I’m not buying all of those ratings, even from a preseason ratings perspective.

I’m particularly dubious about the ratings for Mercer and North Greenville, and I’m not so sure about Furman’s numbers, either (I think all of them should be significantly higher). Also, Massey’s algorithm doesn’t account for SoCon officiating, especially for games played in Spartanburg.

As for FCS-only ratings, here is a list of select schools:

  • North Dakota State – 1
  • Northern Iowa – 2
  • Jacksonville State – 3
  • Illinois State – 4
  • South Dakota State – 5
  • Dartmouth – 6
  • Harvard – 7
  • Chattanooga – 8
  • Western Illinois – 9
  • Youngstown State – 10
  • The Citadel – 11
  • Southern Utah – 12
  • Richmond – 13
  • Charleston Southern – 14
  • Southern Illinois – 15
  • Montana – 16
  • Coastal Carolina – 21
  • Western Carolina – 22
  • James Madison – 23
  • William & Mary – 26
  • Samford – 27
  • Villanova – 28
  • Liberty – 34
  • Wofford – 39
  • Towson – 46
  • Furman – 49
  • Lehigh – 50
  • Mercer – 52
  • Presbyterian – 57
  • VMI – 61
  • Elon – 68
  • Delaware – 70
  • South Carolina State – 76
  • Kennesaw State – 77
  • Dayton – 81
  • Gardner-Webb – 82
  • Jacksonville – 88
  • Campbell – 102
  • Davidson – 120
  • East Tennessee State – 122
  • Mississippi Valley State – 125

The highest-rated FCS school is, naturally, North Dakota State, which checks in at #60 overall. Other schools in the “overall” list that may be of interest:

  • Alabama – 1
  • Ohio State – 2
  • Mississippi – 3
  • Stanford – 4
  • Clemson – 5
  • Arkansas – 6
  • Tennessee – 7
  • LSU – 8
  • Oklahoma – 9
  • Mississippi State – 10
  • Notre Dame – 14
  • Auburn – 17
  • Georgia – 18
  • Florida State – 20
  • Texas A&M – 22
  • Florida – 27
  • Navy – 33
  • Louisville – 35
  • Toledo – 39
  • Texas – 42
  • Miami (FL) – 46
  • Georgia Tech – 48
  • Virginia Tech – 49
  • North Carolina State – 55
  • South Carolina – 58
  • Georgia Southern – 59
  • Duke – 64
  • Virginia – 67
  • Maryland – 69
  • Vanderbilt – 70
  • Appalachian State – 71
  • Kentucky – 72
  • Northwest Missouri – 77 (highest-ranked Division II team)
  • Boston College – 78
  • Air Force – 79
  • East Carolina – 85
  • Wake Forest – 92
  • Calgary – 111 (highest-ranked Canadian team)
  • Kansas – 116
  • Army – 121
  • Idaho – 141
  • Tulane – 144
  • UCF – 154
  • Wyoming – 155
  • UTEP – 156
  • Hawai’i – 157
  • New Mexico State – 158
  • City College of San Francisco – 159 (highest-ranked junior college team)
  • Old Dominion – 161
  • Mt. Union – 175 (highest-ranked Division III team)
  • ULM – 176
  • Eastern Michigan – 181
  • North Texas – 192
  • Charlotte – 198
  • Marian (IN) – 244 (highest-ranked NAIA team)

The overall Top 10 is very SEC-heavy, similar to the MVC flavor for the FCS Top 10.

Football season is getting closer…

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.

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