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Citadel Has Chance for Momentum vs Mocs

By Manning Snyder
SouthernPigskin.com
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Manning Snyder previews The Citadel's contest with Chattanooga.

Overview
The Citadel returns home to Charleston, South Carolina, on Saturday as they face the Mocs of Chattanooga. Last weekend, the Bulldogs lost their first SoCon contest against Mercer, 42-28. It was a tale of two halves for The Citadel (0-5, 0-1), who faced a 28-0 deficit at the midway point. Chattanooga, on the other hand, is coming off their biggest win of the season against 11th-ranked Wofford.  The Mocs, led by quarterback Drayton Arnold’s 233 passing yard , dominated both sides of the ball. Chattanooga’s defense held the formidable triple-option Terrier offense to only 178 yards. Now the Mocs will face another triple-option offense in the Bulldogs.

Why To Watch
Although The Citadel looked sluggish in the first half of last weekend’s game, their second half performance showed that they have the weapons to still be a tough out for SoCon foes. Quarterback Jaylan Adams ran for 144 yards (75 yards passing) and A-back Cooper Wallace added 128 yards on the ground. The Bulldog defense held Mercer to only seven points in the second half (another seven points were scored off of an onside kick). While Chattanooga is riding high after their upset win, there is reason to believe that The Citadel will be much sharper than last weekend. Also, The Citadel will allow around 3,000 fans–season ticket holders and player guests– to Johnson Hagood Stadium, providing a home field advantage for the Bulldogs desperately looking for a win.

The Citadel Players To Watch
B-Back Clay Harris
The junior B-Back from Atlanta, Georgia, is one of the important pieces of Citadel’s offense. Playing the role of a traditional fullback (and looking like one at 6’0, 203-pounds), Harris typically runs the “dive” play, plunging straight down the middle of the opponent’s defensive line. When Harris gains four-plus yards on the play, good things happen for the Bulldog offense. The outside pitches begin to gain more yards as Citadel’s opponents have to respect the fullback dive play. Against Mercer, Harris gained 43 yards on 14 carries (most of them coming in the second half). In order for The Citadel to run the ball effectively on Saturday, Harris needs to have a productive day.

K Colby Kintner
The freshman kicker out of Windemere, Florida, missed his only field goal attempt and an extra point against Mercer. Kintner started out the 2020/21 season against South Florida nailing two out of his three attempts. Since that game in September, though, Kitner is one for six in his field goal attempts. Despite his shaky stats, Coach Thompson still has plenty of trust in the knob, giving him attempts whenever the Bulldogs are within the 30-yard-line. If the Bulldogs want to knock off the Mocs, Kintner needs to make his field goal attempts.

Chattanooga Players To Watch
DB Brandon Dowdell
The senior defensive back out of Cordele, Georgia, is one of the best players in the SoCon. Dowdell was named to the First-Team Defense of the SoCon Preseason Poll. He had nine tackles and an interception against Wofford last weekend. The undisputed leader of the Moc defense also returns punts for the squad.

WR Reginald Henderson
The senior wide receiver out of Belle Glade, Florida, transferred to Chattanooga from Middle Tennessee. Henderson (6’3-205 pounds)  had a monster game against Wofford with 7 receptions for 102 yards. In the first half against Mercer, The Citadel struggled to stop the passing attack of Mercer. The Bulldog defense will have their hands full with Henderson on Saturday.

Keys To Game
In order for The Citadel to prevail (and forgive me for sounding like a broken record), they must limit their turnovers and dominate time-of-possession. While the Bulldogs had the time-of-possession advantage over the Bears last weekend (35:20 to 24:40), The Citadel had three turnovers; Mercer had zero. The Citadel also needs to prevent long-plays on defense. Mercer had a 75-yard touchdown and a kickoff return against the Bulldogs. If Chattanooga can force a few turnovers, dominate special teams, and get The Citadel offense off of the field, they will have a very good shot at improving to 2-0 in the SoCon.

Manning’s Fun Fact
The Citadel junior punter Matt Campbell (you can learn more about him here) had four punts for an average of 42.8 yards against Mercer. His long was 51 yards. The 42.8 yards-per-punt would rank Campbell in the top-40 of all college punters (FBS-included) according to the fall NCAA season statistics.

Conclusion
Chattanooga, now ranked #18 in the FCS, will look to stay atop the SoCon standings with a win against The Citadel. The Bulldogs will be looking for their first win of the season, hopefully cultivating some momentum for the rest of their SoCon slate. The  projected Saturday weather  for Charleston–sunny, no rain, and a high of 60–looks perfect for a football game. Check it out at 1pm on ESPN+.

Manning Snyder - A Charleston, South Carolina-native, Manning Snyder covers The Citadel and Southern Conference football.