Last run for Citadel football’s Ben and Aaron show
Odds are, neither Ben Dupree nor Aaron Miller will make the all-Southern Conference team at quarterback this season.
Who: Charleston Southern at The Citadel
When: 6 p.m. Saturday
Where: Johnson Hagood Stadium
Radio: 1450 AM
No matter how many games the Bulldogs win, starting Saturday with the season opener against Charleston Southern, neither QB is likely to get enough snaps to rack up all-league numbers.
Citadel coach Kevin Higgins said he’ll employ the same QB system he did last year, with the senior Dupree starting and the junior Miller playing regularly off the bench.
That rotation led to both quarterbacks playing in all 11 games last season, as the Bulldogs went 7-4 with upset wins over FCS powers Georgia Southern and Appalachian State.
Dupree ended up with roughly twice as many carries as Miller in the triple-option offense, while the backup Miller threw about 60 percent of the passes
“I never thought you could do a dual-quarterback system like this and be as successful as we have been,” said Higgins, starting his ninth year at The Citadel. “And by that I mean guys getting along and being competitors, being leaders and not disrupting the team by having two guys.
“This has been an incredible situation, as I’ve watched these two guys emerge and handle the role of not playing every play, but taking advantage of every opportunity that they get.”
Dupree, a 5-9, 185-pounder from Harrisburg, Pa., ran for 839 yards and nine touchdowns on 161 carries last season, averaging 76.3 yards per game and 5.2 yards per carry. Miller, a 6-0, 220-pounder from Clover, ran 81 times for 262 yards and five scores.
In the passing game, Dupree hit 25 of 42 passes for 387 yards and three touchdowns, while Miller was 34 of 69 for 513 yards and one score.
Combine their efforts last season, and you have the No. 2 rushing QB in the league (behind Georgia Southern’s Jerick McKinnon) and the top triple-option passer in the SoCon.
“These are unique guys, intense competitors who want to be on the field,” Higgins said. “But they both respect the abilities of the other guy. And they both understand that, in this offense, it’s hard to go every single play.”
Dupree showed his game-breaking ability in last year’s 52-28 shocker over App State, when he scored on runs of 56 and 47 yards and totaled 180 yards.
Miller staked his claim to a regular role in the offense as a freshman in 2011, when he came off the bench to rally the Bulldogs from a 27-0 deficit to a 28-27 victory at Chattanooga.
Ever since then, Higgins’ usual strategy has been to start Dupree and play him for the first two or three series, then give Miller a chance, playing the hot hand or game situation from there.
It’s a partnership that both players say they’ve benefited from.
“It works pretty well,” Miller said. “We’ve become good friends, hang around off campus. We compete at everything and push each other to be our best.”
Dupree is more outwardly confident, but Miller — soft-spoken with the media — is the superior trash-talker, teammates say.
“Ben likes to laugh, but you know he’ll compete every single time,” said senior tackle Cullen Brown. “Aaron doesn’t laugh as much, but he talks a lot more smack. And he brings it just as much. Ben is quicker and he’ll juke people; Aaron, he’ll lower his shoulder and run right through you.”
With the departure of redshirt freshman QB Trey White from the team this week, it’s not clear if Miller will be a one-man show next year after Dupree graduates, or if he will have his own junior partner.
But he’s not worried about that now.
“I’m just focused on this season,” he said, “and waiting for my name to be called.”
While the Bulldogs play Saturday night, the Charleston RiverDogs will be in action at nearby Riley Park.
Public parking for The Citadel game will be at the large MUSC lot on Fishburne Street, the two lots at the corner of Hagood Avenue and Fishburne Street. Parking with appropriate passes from The Citadel Brigadier Foundation will be free, while others in the MUSC lot on Fishburne Street will be $10.
Public parking for the RiverDogs game will be in the first two MUSC lots on Lockwood Boulevard, at Brittlebank Park, the Charleston Police Station lot and the lot adjacent to Riley Park. Parking for the RiverDogs game will be $5, and signs will be posted accordingly. Fans may find updates and additional information on the RiverDogs website.