The Lehigh Bowl is no more, but today's game between The Citadel and Elon will look awfully familiar -- from the Bulldogs' perspective, anyway.
Former Elon coach Pete Lembo, who worked for and succeeded Citadel coach Kevin Higgins at Lehigh, has moved on to Ball State, where he has the Cardinals off to a 2-1 start.
Lembo won three of five games against his former boss, and has been replaced at Elon by former North Carolina State assistant Jason Swepson.
But just as they did under Lembo, the Phoenix are relying this year on a pass-happy spread offense that features a quarterback and receiver with eye-popping numbers.
Under Lembo, those players were QB Scott Riddle and receiver Terrell Hudgins. In today's 1:30 p.m. game at Rhodes Stadium, the Bulldogs' defense must deal with a new combo -- QB Thomas Wilson, and 6-4 junior receiver Aaron Mellette, the top pass-catcher in FCS.
"They have a new staff on both sides of the ball," said Higgins, whose Bulldogs have lost three straight to Elon. "But they still want to spread you out. They love to get Mellette the ball,and he is explosive with the ball in his hands."
Mellette has 36 catches for 494 yards and three touchdowns in three games.
"Mellette probably has a little more speed than Hudgins," said Higgins, whose defense is No. 1 in the SoCon in scoring (12.5 ppg), total (228.5 ypg) and pass defense (132 ypg). "They can put him in any number of positions, and you have to know where he is."
Wilson, a 6-4 senior, has hit 71.6 percent of his passes for 850 yards and seven TDs, but also has five interceptions.
"Five turnovers in all, and it was amazing we were able to win," Swepson said. "The good thing is, we played for 60 minutes and found a way. We've got to clean up the turnovers, and we've got some guys injured. Some young guys will have to step up."
For Swepson, the game marks his SoCon debut and Elon's first shot at defending a triple-option team this season.
"I think we've got a good system in place," said Swepson, whose defense is No. 3 in the SoCon against the run, allowing 113 yards per game. "We've been working against the option for at least 10 minutes in practice each day since the spring, and I think we'll be prepared." You need four good days on defense to prepare."
Swepson said Citadel QB Ben Dupree, averaging 109.5 rushing yards per game, has made great strides since last year.
"I watched all the film over the summer, and you can tell the first two games this year he's really grown as a player," Swepson said. "He's playing with confidence. We'll have to contain him and (fullback) Darien Robinson to be successful."
(bullet) The Citadel got a verbal commitment this week from offensive lineman Sam Frye (5-11, 270) of Providence Day in Charlotte. Frye is the younger brother of former Citadel Chris Frye and current Appalchian State lineman Orry Frye.