'Zebra' package has mixed results
There are never enough ways to get the football into the hands of All-America receiver Andre Roberts. And The Citadel came up with a new one Saturday against Georgia Southern.
For the first time this season, the Bulldogs lined up Roberts at quarterback in the shotgun formation to take direct snaps. It's a gambit gaining popularity in college football and even in the NFL, and The Citadel calls its version "Zebra."
Roberts ran five times for 14 yards and a 5-yard touchdown from the formation, but took an 8-yard loss on a bad snap the first time the Bulldogs used it.
"I like getting the ball that way," Roberts said. "Any time I can get the ball in the hands, I like that. Any receiver would, just to try to make plays for your team."
Coach Kevin Higgins said the formation, with quarterback Bart Blanchard split out wide, gives the Bulldogs an extra blocker on run plays.
"Typically, it would be the quarterback running," he said. "So when a team puts an extra guy in the box, it allows you to block that extra guy and now you have a guy who is truly a good ball-carrier running with it.
"Unfortunately, we had two bad snaps in that formation that really hurt us. The snaps on the shotgun have been a concern the last couple of weeks, and that hurt us a couple of times today."
Roberts also threw his first pass of the season, taking the ball on a reverse and hitting Blanchard for a 15-yard gain. Blanchard was wide open, but Roberts' pass was short and the quarterback had to dive for it. That play helped set up Blanchard's 3-yard TD pass to Alex Sellars for a 24-21 lead in the third quarter.
"That was a terrible pass," said Roberts, who caught nine passes for 165 yards, the fourth-best receiving day in Citadel history. "It could have been a touchdown. That was my fault."
Flanagan's career day
All season long, Higgins has been calling for a second wideout to step up and take some pressure off of Roberts. Senior Scott Flanagan has taken those calls as a personal challenge, and Saturday he came through with a career day, catching eight passes for 105 yards.
Flanagan is the first receiver other than Roberts to crack the 100-yard mark since Scooter Johnson in 2003. He and Roberts became the first Citadel pair to each gain 100 yards in the same game since John Murphy and Victor Frazier against Davidson in 1983.
"Every time coach says that, it's a knife to the heart," said Flanagan, who is from Camarillo, Calif. "But we know we have to, because Andre can't do it alone. I was glad to be able to help him out today."
Flanagan made a big grab when he took the ball away from GSU safety Derek Heyden for a 34-yard gain, setting up the TD that made it 16-7 in the second quarter.
--GSU defensive end Dakota Walker, the transfer from South Carolina who was kicked off the Eagles' team last year only to return this season, was all over the field. He had eight tackles, two sacks, five tackles for loss and a blocked field goal. He also was called for two personal fouls — a "disconcerting signal" call for imitating the QB's cadence, and for landing on a teammate as he leaped to block a field goal.
--Citadel freshman LB Tolu Akindele saw his most action of the season. He had two sacks, including a tackle of GSU QB Antonio Henton in the end zone for a safety in the first quarter. It was the first safety allowed by GSU in 88 games, and The Citadel's first since 2003 against Charleston Southern. Akindele finished with three tackles.
--With the defense using more four-man fronts, DE Erik Clanton is getting more snaps. The 6-3, 235-pound redshirt sophomore had five tackles, with 1.5 sacks and 2.5 tackles for loss, and recovered a fumble ... NG Terrence Reese had nine tackles, two for loss, with half a sack ... LB Jordon Gilmore made eight tackles and intercepted a pass tipped by CB Ryan Jones ... DE Kevin McCaskill had nine tackles and a sack. Dewitt Jones and Jonathan Vest also had half a sack each ... LB Mel Capers' blocked punt was his fourth blocked kick of the season, and third on punts ... The Citadel had a 42-yard TD pass to RB Asheton Jordan wiped out by a holding call, and missed a field goal on that possession.