Citadel QB a target for opposing defenses
Nothing will grab the attention of opposing defensive coordinators like the stat line Citadel quarterback Ben Dupree put up against Appalachian State a couple of weeks ago.
Dupree broke loose for 180 yards and two touchdowns in that 52-28 victory, scampering for scores of 57 and 46 yards.
The junior from Harrisburg, Pa., has found much less room to run in the last two games, as opposing defenses have focused first on stopping the QB in the Bulldogs’ triple option.
North Carolina State held Dupree to one yard on eight carries. Chattanooga’s defense was nearly as effective last week, keeping Dupree to 26 yards on 14 tries.
Not surprisingly, the 22nd-ranked Bulldogs lost both games to drop to 3-2 overall and 2-1 in the Southern Conference. Opeing some space for Dupree and backup Aaron Miller will be key this week at Samford (4-1, 2-1).
“For sure, teams have tried to take some things away over the last couple games,” coach Kevin Higgins said at his weekly news conference Monday. “The key in the triple-option is to get your fullback going, and your quarterbacks. Those are our big-play guys, and we’ve got to get them going.”
N.C. State clogged the middle against Dupree and backup QB Aaron Miller with physical defensive tackles, and overwhelmed the Bulldogs on the perimeter with superior speed.
The Mocs were likewise strong up the middle with 6-4, 303-pound nose tackle Derrick Lott, a transfer from Georgia who had six tackles. Ends Josh Williams and Davis Tull combined for 2½ tackles for loss.
“Chattanooga did a couple of things with their defensive ends that took some things away from our quarterbacks,” Higgins said. “And we missed a couple of reads, which you can say after every game. If we had handed the ball off a couple of times, our fullback could have had a couple of more nice runs. But that’s part of it. You have to make those reads.”
Miller was able to get around the end for a 32-yard TD run, and fullback Darien Robinson finished with a career-high 132 yards against the Mocs. Also, Miller and Dupree combined to hit 8 of 13 passes for 125 yards against Chattanooga, which could help against Samford.
“The better we can throw the ball,” said Miller, who was 6 for 10 with one interception, “the better we will be able to run the ball, too.”
Samford uses what Higgins called a “Bear front,” with linemen over the Bulldogs’ center and guards, and outside linebackers over the tackles. Samford ranks fourth in the SoCon in total defense (345.4 ypg) and fifth in rush defense (161.8 ypg).
In a 35-16 loss at Georgia Southern last week, Samford gave up 360 rushing yards against the Eagles’ option. GSU quarterback/slotback Jerick McKinnon went for 162 yards and two touchdowns, and fullback Dominique Swope had 133 yards and two scores.
But it’s not all on the Bulldogs’ offense. In wins over Georgia Southern and App State, The Citadel forced a combined four turnovers and blocked a punt. Chattanooga had no turnovers against The Citadel.
“We’ve got to make those kind of big plays to have a chance,” Higgins said.
Linebacker Carl Robinson, the Bulldogs’ leading tackler with 54 stops, will miss this week’s game with a knee injury suffered against Chattanooga. He will undergo an MRI today to learn the extent of the injury.
The Citadel fell seven spots in the FCS coaches’ poll to No. 22, and went down eight spots in The Sports Network poll to No. 19.