#23 Citadel FCS Football 2017 Preview


The Citadel Bulldogs


Overall Rank: #23

#4 SoCon

The Citadel began last season with ten straight victories. They fell at North Carolina in the regular season finale, but that game meant nothing to the Bulldogs. They had already won a Southern Conference title and were looking ahead to the playoffs. Following a bye in the first round though, The Citadel lost at home to conference foe Wofford 17-3. It was a tough way to end the season, especially considering the Bulldogs beat Wofford earlier in the season on the road.
2016 Record: 10-2, 8-0
2016 Postseason: FCS Playoffs
Coach: Brent Thompson (10-2 at The Citadel, 10-2 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Lou Conte
Defensive Coordinator: Blake Harrell
Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Cam Jackson, RB, 692 yards
Passing: Dominique Allen, QB, 646 yards
Receiving: Cam Jackson, RB, 111 yards
Tackles: Myles Pierce, LB, 78
Sacks: Noah Dawkins, LB, 5.0
Interceptions: Kailik Williams, DB, 2
Other Key Returnees: DL Ken Allen, DB Ben Roberts, DL Jonathan King
Key Losses: RB Tyler Renew, RB Reggie Williams, WR Rudder Brown, OL Nick Jeffreys, OL Isaiah Pinson, DB Dee Delaney, LB Tevin Floyd, DL Joe Crochet, DB Malik Diggs
With just three starters back on offense, there is a lot of work for Coach Brent Thompson to do in his second season leading the program. The good news is that one of those starters returning is quarterback Dominique Allen. He is an experienced senior who knows how to run the triple option offense. Last season he rushed for 659 yards and seven touchdowns, while passing for 646 yards and three scores. Wide receiver Rudder Brown will need to be replaced after catching 13 passes for 243 yards and one touchdown. Those may not sound like impressive numbers, and they aren’t, but The Citadel need a receiver who can at least be a threat to stretch the defense. Once again, The Citadel should have one of the best rushing offenses in the country. Losing Tyler Renew and Reggie Williams leaves some questions, but Allen and Cam Jackson are ready to take over. Jackson rushed for 692 yards last season, but of course the Bulldogs will need a few more rushers like Rod Johnson and Evan McField to step up and pick up the slack.
The defense returns eight starters and will help carry the team while the offense reloads. However, there are some big holes to fill. Dee Delaney intercepted six passes last season and was one of the best corners in the country. Malik Diggs added a couple more interceptions and tallied 57 tackles during his senior season. Kailik Williams and Ben Roberts will anchor the new look secondary. At linebacker, Tevin Floyd needs to be replaced after recording a team high 103 tackles. Myles Pierce and Noah Dawkins are a couple proven playmakers to build around. On the line, the big loss is Joe Crochet, who tallied 4.5 sacks and a team high 12.5 tackles-for-loss. Ken Allen and Jonathan King are good pass rushers and should help maintain The Citadel among the best pass rushing teams in the SoCon.
The Bottom Line:
With so many new faces on offense, this is a team that should take a step back. Following home games against Newberry and Presbyterian, the Bulldogs open up SoCon play with a trip to ETSU and a big game at Samford. The Citadel also heads to Chattanooga on October 21st, just one week after a home date against a Wofford team that knocked the Bulldogs out of the playoffs last season. Those two games in mid-October will go a long way in determining the Southern Conference champion and whether or not The Citadel can make it back to the playoffs.
Projected Postseason: FCS Playoffs
2016 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 348.2 (1st in nation, 1st in conference)
Passing Offense: 68.3 (121, 8)
Total Offense: 416.5 (27, 2)
Scoring Offense: 26.4 (60, 6)
Rushing Defense: 133.1 (32, 3)
Pass Defense: 169.5 (7, 2)
Total Defense: 302.6 (8, 3)
Scoring Defense: 20.5 (14, 3)
Turnover Margin: 0.25 (48, 6)
Sacks: 2.33 (36, 2)
Sacks Allowed: 0.35 (2, 2)
HERO Sports 2017 Recruit Rankings:
#219 Jay Howard
#244 Lane Botkin