Bulldogs welcome return of running backs
The Citadel took on North Carolina's vaunted defense two weeks ago with a pair of walk-on freshmen at running back. It was no coincidence that the Bulldogs finished that game with 30 net rushing yards and a 40-6 defeat.
Coach Kevin Higgins' football squad should be a bit better off for this week's game at Princeton. A bye week has given injured running backs Terrell Dallas and Van Dyke Jones some extra time to heal, and both should be ready to play against the Ivy League's Tigers on Saturday.
"Just getting those two guys back," Higgins said Monday at his weekly news conference, "I think will help us a great deal."
Dallas, a 6-0, 218-pound sophomore, is listed as the starter on the Bulldogs' depth chart for the Prince-ton game, with the freshman Jones as his backup. That will leave walk-on freshmen Remi Biakabutuka and Bucky Kennedy, who carried the load against UNC, as the third and fourth backs in the rotation.
Dallas, who ran for 230 yards and four touchdowns in 10 games last season, tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his knee in the final game against Florida. He missed spring practice, and by all accounts was ahead of schedule in his rehab as preseason practice began. But as it became clear that he would not be ready to play against North Carolina, he was held out of most contact drills.
"Terrell began practicing again last week," Higgins said. "And he looked good. He caught the ball, ran the ball and did all the things we hoped he'd be able to do. We have to break him in slowly, of course, so we hope for Saturday to be able to get 15 to 20 plays from Terrell.
"Going into a game and doing it in practice are two different things. We want to make sure with his knee that we don't put too much stress or pressure on it in one game. We're looking at this as a long season, and the depth we have there is not great. Obviously, Terrell is a valuable guy from that standpoint, so we'd like to break him in slowly."
Jones, a 5-10, 180-pound freshman from Norfolk, Va., likely would have been the starter against North Carolina had he not broken a bone in his left hand in preseason practice, on the same day that redshirt sophomore running back Rickey Anderson broke his leg.
If Dallas is limited to 15 or 20 plays, that should mean a lot of work for Jones, who ran for 870 yards on 115 carries (7.6 yards per carry) for Indian River High School last year.
"He's a little bit limited in terms of his pass-blocking," Higgins said. "But every day, he gets better and better, and he should be ready for Prince-ton also."
Higgins said he doesn't think Jones will need a cast on his left hand at Princeton.
"It will be wrapped up, and we will evaluate that in practice this week and see how he handles it," Higgins said. "I was optimistic at the end of last week. He was involved in some 'thud' contact, not live, but getting his hand banged around on helmets and pads, and it didn't seem to bother him. I was encouraged by that."
The injury should not keep Jones from catching passes, either.
"He does have good hands, and guys we've liked in the past, like Tory Cooper, can catch it out of the backfield," Higgins said. "He can do that and looked pretty good at the end of last week catching the ball."
--Offensive lineman Jameson Bryant, out since the first week of preseason camp with mono, is back and will practice for the first time in pads today.
--Linebacker Mel Capers will see a neurosurgeon from Clemson as he seeks a second opinion about a congential narrowing of the spine that could keep him from playing.
--Higgins said it's not likely that Biakabutuka or Kennedy would be able to take a redshirt season after playing against North Carolina. Either one would have to suffer an injury that keeps him from playing or practicing, Higgins said.