After watching his quarterbacks combine for six interceptions and at least five fumbled snaps in Saturday's scrimmage, Citadel football coach Kevin Higgins stated the obvious.
"Offensively, we have a lot of work to do," said Higgins, who is installing a new triple- option offense in his sixth season at The Citadel.
Two hundred or so fans turned out for Saturday's Meet the Bulldogs' scrimmage and got their first look at the Bulldogs' prospective starter at QB, freshman Ben Dupree.
The 5-9, 180-pounder from Harrisburg, Pa., showed flashes of the elusiveness that's made him the frontrunner for the starting job. But he also looked a bit overwhelmed at times. The Citadel did not keep statistics for the scrimmage, but unofficially, Dupree ran 20 times for 28 yards and hit 2 of 8 passes for 36 yards with two interceptions.
"He looked like a freshman," Higgins said. "He still has to feel comfortable under center with his checks at the line, he has to understand when to give it, when to keep it and when to pitch it. That comes with experience."
Two weeks away from what would be his first college start, against Chowan on Sept. 4, Dupree was not happy with his performance.
"Overall, I was disappointed in the way I personally played," Dupree said. "But you have to credit our starting defense -- they played well and we're going to need that. But as far as me being the quarterback of this team, I did not play to my potential. But this was definitely a building block for where we need to go."
The Bulldogs ran about 125 plays in the scrimmage with no major injuries. Freshman QB Matt Thompson scored the day's only touchdown, shedding a tackle to score on a 6-yard run to cap a seven-play, 65-yard drive for the second- team offense. That drive was keyed by a 46-yard run by slotback Christian Robertson on an option pitch from Thompson.
The second unit also provided the day's longest play from scrimmage, a 51-yard burst by freshman fullback Darien Robinson.
Dupree completed two passes as the first-team offense drove 59 yards to the defense's 11-yard line. Receiver Travis Ruff came back to snare a badly underthrown ball for a 22-yard gain, and Dupree rolled right for a nice throw to slotback Van Dyke Jones for a 14-yard pickup. But the drive stalled and kicker Ryan Sellers missed a 42-yard field goal wide left.
Among the other QBs, Thompson missed all three of his attempts and threw two interceptions, and Blane Woodfin and Steven Ballentine were each intercepted on their only tries. Only redshirt freshman Sam Martin avoided interception, and he was 1 of 5 for five yards.
In the battle for the kicking job, Sellers went 1 of 3 on field goals, hitting a 38-yarder and banging a 39-yarder off the left upright. Jordan Panter made his only try, a 37-yarder, and Sam Keeler missed his only attempt, a 35-yarder.
Players coming up with interceptions included defensive backs Brandon McCladdie, Akeem Garnett, Austin Crowe, Keith Gamble and Cortez Allen. McCladdie and safety Austin Boyle got some run with the first-team defense in place of Allen and Joseph Boateng.
--First-team offense on Saturday: LT Tyler Thornton, LG Jameson Bryant, C Bobby Jarvis, RG Jim Knowles, RT Lincoln Kling, QB Ben Dupree, FB Terrell Dallas, SB Rickey Anderson, SB Van Dyke Jones, TE Alex Sellars, WR Alex Carr.
First-team defense: DE Erik Clanton, DT Keith Carter, DT Demarrio Sims, DE Chris Billingslea, LB Rod Harland, LB Tolu Akindele, LB Jeremy Buncum, CB Keith Gamble, CB Brandon McCladdie, S Demetrius Jackson, S Austin Boyle.
--The Citadel will honor tickets for the 40th annual Sertoma Football Classic at the Bulldogs' season opener against Chowan on Sept. 4 at Johnson Hagood Stadium. Fans with Sertoma tickets can exchange them for general admission tickets in advance at the McAlister Field House ticket office, or on game day at the stadium.