Citadel quarterback Ben Dupree caught hundreds of punts over the summer as he got ready to add punt returner to his list of duties with the Bulldogs. At 5-9 and 185 pounds, showing kick-return skills would be his best path to pro football.
But when third-team quarterback Trey White left the team for personal reasons last week, that threw a wrench into The Citadel’s plans. With only two experienced quarterbacks left on the roster — the senior Dupree and junior Aaron Miller — suddenly the starting QB was too valuable to risk on punt returns.
That had disastrous consequences for the Bulldogs on Saturday night in a 32-29 loss to crosstown rival Charleston Southern. Slotback Vinny Miller returned punts instead, and his two muffs led directly to CSU touchdowns.
Citadel football coach Kevin Higgnis said after the game that if White were still on the team, Dupree would have returned punts against the Bucs.
“Ben got a lot of work in camp, and Vinny was the backup,” Higgins said. “Charleston Southern has a rugby-style punter, so there was a different spin on the ball.”
CSU punter Truett Burns, a freshman from Clinton, used a side-winding rugby style that imparted an end-over-end spin that led to short kicks and long bounces. In an effort to run up and catch two punts before they could bounce, Miller mishandled both.
“On the first one, he lifted his eyes and just didn’t look it in,” Higgins said. “The second one, he never should have touched. It’s the end of the half, just let it go. Bad mistake.”
Miller, a sophomore from North Augusta, acknowledged as much.
“I’ve just got to keep my head up,” he said. “Yeah, those were bad plays, but I’ve got to put that behind me.”
• Citadel starting tight end Alex Glover, a sophomore from Wando High School, did not play as he sat out a one-game suspension for a violation of team rules, Higgins said.
• Backup fullback Tyler Renew, a freshman from Columbia, also did not play. His high school transcripts have not yet been approved by the NCAA Clearinghouse, but Higgins said he should be able to play next week against Wofford.
• Linebacker Calvin Byrant led CSU’s defense with 12 tackles, while defensive end Will Hunt made two tackles for loss. Malcolm Jackson and Kirby Broome recovered the Bulldogs’ muffed punts.
• Linebacker Carl Robinson led The Citadel with 14 tackles. Defensive tackle Cam Mobley had two tackles for loss, including a sack, and defensive end Justin Oxendine also had two tackles for loss.
• CSU receiver Colton Korn, a freshman and brother of Bucs assistant Willy Korn, had two big catches for 38 yards. Willy Korn played QB at Clemson and at North Greenville under CSU coach Jamey Chadwell.
• Citadel fullback Darien Robinson ran for 55 yards on seven carries and went over the 2,000-yard mark for his career. He’s now got 2,024 yards and can become just the fourth Bulldog to gain more than 3,000 career yards. Stump Mitchell (4,062), Everette Sands (3,926) and Jack Douglas (3,908) are the only three.