#16 The Citadel FCS Football 2020 Preview

The Citadel Bulldogs
Overall Rank: #16
#2 SoCon
 Citadel Logo
After back-to-back playoff appearances in 2015 and 2016, The Citadel has been an average team. In each of the last three seasons they have finished with six losses. That has put the Bulldogs right on the cusp of another playoff appearance, but they keep falling short. Last year they had a couple chances, but lost the last two games of the season to Chattanooga and Wofford.
2019 Record: 6-6, 4-4
2019 Postseason: None
Coach: Brent Thompson (26-20 at The Citadel, 26-20 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Lou Conte
Defensive Coordinator: Tony Grantham
Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Brandon Rainey, QB, 900 yards
Passing: Brandon Rainey, QB, 1,114 yards
Receiving: Raleigh Webb, WR, 617 yards
Tackles: Willie Eubanks III, LB, 112
Sacks: Marquise Blount, LB, 4.5
Interceptions: Jay Howard, DB, 2; Destin Mack, DB, 2
Other Key Returnees: RB Clay Harris, RB Dante Smith, DB Chris Beverly, DB Sean-Thomas Faulkner, DL Dalton Owens, P Matt Campbell
Key Losses: RB Remus Bulmer, OL Drew McEntyre, DL Joseph Randolph, DB Phil Barrett, DB Lane Botkin, LB Airan Reed
The Citadel’s triple option offense will again be very impressive under quarterback Brandon Rainey. The senior signal caller knows how to run the offense effectively and led the Bulldogs with 900 rushing yards and 17 rushing touchdowns. Clay Harris and Dante Smith are proven backs and the addition of Alex Ramsey will provide yet another spark to what should be one of the best ground attacks in the FCS. Ramsey spent four years at VMI, rushing for 1,326 yards and 22 touchdowns last season. The great thing about Rainey though is that he can throw the ball too. He completed nearly 51 percent of his passes for 1,114 yards and 13 touchdowns and just four interceptions. That may not sound impressive, but for a triple option offense, having some consistent quarterback play through the air is a big deal. It helps that Rainey has Raleigh Webb. The senior wide receiver caught 30 passes for 617 yards and ten touchdowns. He caught nearly half of the team’s completions and one-third of those went for touchdowns. Obviously the element of surprise comes into play with a triple-option team, but now the opposition has to worry about the passing attack a little bit and that is exactly what the Bulldogs want.
Willie Eubanks III is the reigning SoCon Defensive Player of the Year after the linebacker recorded 112 tackles. The linebacker corps also returns Marquise Blount, who recorded 4.5 sacks and 11.5 tackles-for-loss. With those two linebackers and linemen Dalton Owens and Dewey Greene, the Bulldogs should again have one of the best run defenses in the Southern Conference. With Chris Beverly and Sean-Thomas Faulkner returning to the secondary, there is hope that the pass defense can see a drastic improvement as well.
The Bottom Line:
The biggest game on the SoCon schedule could come very early. The Citadel travels to Wofford on September 12th and to many that game will decide the best team in the conference. The rest of the schedule is manageable though with Chattanooga, Furman and Samford all coming to Sansom Field. If the team can live up to their expectations, the little run of mediocrity will come to an end.
Projected Postseason: FCS Playoffs
2019 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 268.2 (6th in nation, 2nd in conference)
Passing Offense: 99.6 (122, 9)
Total Offense: 367.8 (74, 6)
Scoring Offense: 28.8 (50, 5)
Rushing Defense: 159.6 (63, 1)
Pass Defense: 214.6 (59, 7)
Total Defense: 374.2 (51, 4)
Scoring Defense: 28.2 (66, 4)
Turnover Margin: -0.25 (76, 5)
Sacks: 2.17 (57, 2)
Sacks Allowed: 1.50 (24, 4)