They still call themselves a triple-option football team, but The Citadel Bulldogs showed off a newly diverse offense in Saturday’s scrimmage.
The Bulldogs lined up in I-formation and shotgun sets as well as their standard triple-option look, giving opponents -- starting with the Aug. 31 opener against Charleston Southern -- some new sets to prepare for.
“We purposely put in a lot of new stuff for camp, and our veteran guys have done a good job of picking it up,” said coach Kevin Higgins. “Now, as we get closer to Charleston Southern, we have to determine what we really want to major in and go after that. We’ll start that process this coming week.”
Higgins estimated that The Citadel ran out of shotgun sets about 20 percent of the time during last year’s 7-4 season. He expects that number to be closer to 25 percent this year. Add in the I formation, with a fullback and tailback behind the QB, and the Bulldogs might be in the standard triple-option set even less this season.
“It has evolved,” said senior quarterback Ben Dupree. “Coach (Bob) Bodine has confidence we can pick things up and evolve the offense. We can always revert back to our old ways if things go wrong. But this keeps teams off balance, and that’s a positive.”
The shotgun set, with one one back and four receivers, opened up some big holes on the read option for Dupree, who ran 15 times for 106 yards and a touchdown in the scrimmage.
“That’s a situation where I can improvise, and I like that,” Dupree said.
Backup QB Aaron Miller was just as comfortable, running 11 times for 122 yards and two touchdowns. The 6-0, 220-pound junior trucked a defender on a 7-yard score, and hit 7 of 11 passes for 99 yards and a TD, on a 3-yard fade to freshman receiver Jorian Jordan.
The Bulldogs found a backup for all-SoCon fullback Darien Robinson in Tyler Renew, a 5-11, 205-pound freshman who ran eight times for 105 yards. Other freshmen who showed they will help this year included speedy slotback Devan Robbins, who broke a long kickoff return, turned dump-off pass into a 42-yard gain and gained 29 yards on two carries; Jordan, who caught three passes for 19 yards; and slotback DeAndre Schoultz, who broke a 19-yard run.
On defense, cornerback Cody Richardson wrestled an interception from receiver Matt Thompson, and cornerback Brandon McCladdie scooped and scored on a bad pitch. Defensive back Dondray Copeland picked off third-team QB Trey White and ran it in for a score.
“We got some turnovers, and I thought our defensive line put good pressure on our quarterbacks in passing situations,” Higgins said.
Tackle Devin Bice (knee) and linebacker Trevin Floyd (shoulder stinger) did not practice. The scrimmage had been set for Johnson Hagood Stadium, but was switched to the practice field due to recent heavy rain.