#16 The Citadel FCS Football 2016 Preview

The Citadel Bulldogs
Overall Rank: #16
#2 SoCon
The Citadel is coming off of a banner year in which the team won nine games and reached the playoffs. The Bulldogs went 6-1 in Southern Conference play and then pulled off an upset at Coastal Carolina in the playoffs. They lost in the next round to Charleston Southern 14-6. The big news though is that coach Mike Houston left to take over the James Madison job. Former offensive coordinator Brent Thompson will take over the head job, so it should be a smooth transition, but what Coach Houston did for this program in just two years cannot be overstated.
2015 Record: 9-4, 6-1
2015 Postseason: FCS Playoffs
Coach: Brent Thompson (0-0 at The Citadel, 0-0 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Lou Conte
Defensive Coordinator: Blake Harrell
Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Dominique Allen, QB, 953 yards
Passing: Dominique Allen, QB, 871 yards
Receiving: Jorian Jordan, WR, 192 yards
Tackles: Tevin Floyd, LB, 91
Sacks: Joe Crochet, LB, 3.0
Interceptions: Dee Delaney, DB, 5
Other Key Returnees: RB Tyler Renew, RB Cam Jackson, RB Isiaha Smith, RB Evan McField, OL Tyler Davis, DB Malik Diggs, DB Kailik Williams, LB Dondray Copeland, LB Quinlan Washington
Key Losses: RB Vinny Miller, WR Brandon Eakins, OL Sam Frye, LB James Riley, DL Mitchell Jeter, DL Mark Thomas
As always, The Citadel will boast one of the most prolific rushing games in the country with their triple option offense. Running backs Tyler Renew, Cam Jackson, Isiaha Smith and Evan McField are all back after earning at least 70 carries last season. Renew was the most productive back last season, rushing for 839 yards and five touchdowns. Jackson added 751 yards and six scores, while Smith tallied 563 yards and seven trips to the end zone. Not many teams will be able to contain all of those dynamic backs. And then there is quarterback Dominique Allen, who led the team with 953 yards and 13 touchdowns on the ground. Allen also threw for 871 yards and four touchdowns. Of course the Bulldogs are not going to throw much, but Allen should at least be more consistent with his arm during his junior campaign. With a strong offensive line, led by Tyler Davis, this will be one of the top two or three rushing offenses in the FCS.
The defense was not bad last year at all. They ranked second in the SoCon in total defense and scoring defense and seven starters are back. The biggest concern is on the front line where Mitchell Jeter and Mark Thomas need to be replaced. Those were the team’s top two pass rushers last season and this was not a team that was particularly good at getting to the quarterback. It could be more of an issue this time around. Linebacker Joe Crochet can get a few sacks here and there, but he will need help from the linemen, most notably junior end Jonathan King. Tevin Floyd is a good playmaker at linebacker and the return of Dondray Copeland and Quinlan Washington will help cover for the loss of leading tackler James Riley. The secondary has a superstar in Dee Delaney. He recorded 46 tackles and picked off five passes last season. With Malik Diggs and Kailik Williams also returning, The Citadel has a lot of talent in the secondary. However, they may not be quite as productive this year if the team fails to find new pass rushers.
The Bottom Line:
For now, losing Coach Houston should not be that big of a deal. The transition should be relatively seamless. The bigger concern is the long term sustainability of the program without Coach Houston. Winning another Southern Conference title and having a decent showing in the playoffs would help keep the program headed in the right direction for years to come. A disappointing season could be the beginning of a slide back towards mediocrity. 
Projected Postseason: FCS Playoffs
2015 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 346.9 (2nd in nation, 1st in conference)
Passing Offense: 74.2 (121, 7)
Total Offense: 421.1 (29, 2)
Scoring Offense: 30.8 (31, 2)
Rushing Defense: 157.3 (53, 2)
Pass Defense: 198.9 (40, 4)
Total Defense: 356.2 (39, 2)
Scoring Defense: 21.8 (35, 2)
Turnover Margin: 0.38 (33, 2)
Sacks: 2.08 (58, 2)
Sacks Allowed: 0.62 (2, 1)
Madness 2016 Recruit Rankings:
#52 Drew McEntyre