The standout offensive performer at The Citadel's spring football game Saturday was backup quarterback Cam Jackson, who led both touchdown drives in the two-hour scrimmage at Johnson Hagood Stadium.
But that might have been because Jackson and the No. 2 offense did not have to block Bulldogs defensive tackle Mitchell Jeter.
Though no official statistics were kept, Jeter wreaked havoc on the No. 1 offense, racking up a sack and two tackles for loss in the early going. The 6-foot, 280-pounder, a rising junior from Rock Hill, lived up to the praise new coach Mike Houston heaped on him earlier in spring practice.
"What you saw today from Mitchell Jeter is what we've seen all spring," Houston said of Jeter.
"He's a really good football player and I think he's poised to have a great season this fall. You saw more offensive productivity today when I pulled Mitchell out than anything."
Jeter started five of 12 games for the 5-7 Bulldogs last season, making 37 tackles, including 3.5 for loss and 1.5 sacks.
"Spring practice went pretty good, but I feel like I can do way better," Jeter said. "My plan is just to keep improving each and every day, and work on my fundamentals my most."
Jeter and his defensive mates made things difficult for starting QB Aaron Miller and the first-team offense, which punted twice and lost a fumble on its first three possessions. Aaron Miller did not play in the second half and finished with 18 yards on nine carries, hitting just 1 of 4 passes.
"The nerves or whatever you want to call it, we had a few bobbles early and we've got to sharpen that up," Houston said. "To be honest, we haven't looked like that a whole lot in the last week and a half. Aaron Miller has had an outstanding spring and we think he'll have a great fall."
Jackson, a 6-2, 195-pounder who redshirted last season, showed that he should be ready to play as Miller's backup this fall. He ran 14 times for 86 yards, including a 1-yard TD plunge, and hit 7 of 9 passes for 52 yards. Jackson also had a 55-yard TD run called back on a chop block.
"He's got to sharpen up mechanically and fundamentally," Houston said. "But when he gets going, he's got tremendous God-given ability."
Most of the best rushing numbers also came from the second-team offense. Slotback DeAndre Schoultz, 5-9 and 185 pounds, ran five times for 33 yards, including a 21-yard TD run. Slotback Craig Miller had six carries for 33 yards, and third-team QB Dane Anderson ran five times for 50 yards.
Kickers Austin Jordan and Eric Goins, battling for the first-team job, both had a good day. Jordan hit field goals of 36 and 42 yards, and Goins made a 45-yarder at the end of the first half. One of the best plays was turned in by defensive back DeVonta Delaney, who made a one-handed interception of a deep pass late in the game.
All in all, Citadel players said their first spring under their new coaches was different.
"It's a lot more intense," Jeter said. "Everybody's coming with a lot more passion."
Cornerback Walker Smith hobbled off the field after recovering a fumble early in the scrimmage, but Houston said the injury was not serious. "He just rolled his ankle," he said.
Defensive end Mark Thomas and tackle Cam Mobley also had sacks, and defensive back Ben Roberts recovered a fumble ... Defensive end Nick Jeffreys, converted from tight end, had two tackles for loss in the second half.
Among those who did not play Saturday due to injury or illness were linebacker Carl Robinson, safety Nick Willis, defensive back Dondray Copeland, slotback Dalton Trevino and offensive lineman Jeremiah Cotton.
Aaron Miller, blue, looks for running room during the spring game Saturday, March 15, 2014 at Johnson Hagood Stadium. Paul Zoeller/Staff×
Cam jackson, blue, runs with the ball as Ben Roberts, white, defends during the spring game Saturday, March 15, 2014 at Johnson Hagood Stadium. Paul Zoeller/Staff×