About a week ago, Citadel coach Mike Houston said that redshirt freshman Evan McField was slightly ahead of sophomore Isiaha Smith at the fullback position so crucial to the Bulldogs’ triple-option offense. This, even though Smith ran for 591 yards and five touchdowns a year ago while McField was on the scout team.
“But,” Houston said, “Isiaha is not going to just give it to him. It’s been a brutal competition.”
On the evidence of Saturday night’s 69-0 win over Davidson, the winner of that competition is the Bulldogs’ offense. Smith earned the start and ran for 109 yards and three touchdowns, while McField came off the bench and gained 132 yards with one score.
That’s 241 yards and four TDs on 37 carries from two players at one position. Smith chipped in a 24-yard catch to give the duo 265 total yards. That’s a big reason The Citadel piled up 535 rushing yards — third-most in school history — and 602 total yards (fifth-most).
Smith credited McField, from Goose Creek High School, with pushing him throughout the preseason.
“I feel like competition brings out the best in everyone,” Smith said. “It definitely helped me a lot. We worked together a lot, and I’m definitely happy for him that he’s playing this year, and I know he’s happy for me.”
Houston said McField, 6-0 and 221 pounds, has come a long way since he signed with The Citadel last year after originally committing to South Carolina State.
“We really challenged him last fall to change his body and really kind of develop himself,” Houston said. “He has bought in and had a great spring and summer, so we’re really glad to see him play the way he did tonight.”
Fifth-year senior Mariel Cooper, a transfer from South Carolina State, made an impact in his first Citadel game with an interception and a pass break-up. Tevin Floyd, Dee Delaney and Dondray Copeland also intercepted passes as the Bulldogs picked off four throws, more than they did all last season (three.)
The Citadel’s 69 points were its most ever in a season opener, and most in a game since a 70-28 win over VMI in 2007.
True freshmen who saw action for The Citadel included slotback Rod Johnson, defensive end Kevin Graham, defensive tackle Ken Allen, defensive back Aron Spann and center Tyler Davis, linebacker Phil Davis and defensive end Noah Dawkins.
Grant Drakeford, a redshirt freshman who transferred from Georgia State, played at slotback and on special teams.
Game captains for The Citadel were Joe Crochet, James Riley, Sam Frye and Alex Glover.