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Citadel-Army Preview

By Southern Pigskin Staff
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Manning Snyder previews The Citadel at Army West Point.

By Manning Snyder

Overview
The Citadel Bulldogs will face the Army Black Knights at Mickie Stadium in West Point, New York. The game will be televised Saturday on CBS Sports Network at 1:30pm. It has been a stark contrast of seasons for Army and The Citadel. The Black Knights are 3-1 on the season, their only loss against then 14th-ranked Cincinnati on the road. The Bulldogs, on the other hand, are winless (0-3) in 2020.  The Citadel lost their lone home game two weeks ago against Eastern Kentucky, while Army defeated FCS opponent Abilene Christian 55-23 in their last contest. Army and The Citadel both run the triple-option offense, an advantage they use to confuse their spread-running opponents.  Army runs the triple-option very efficiently, averaging 350.5 rushing yards per game. By contrast, The Citadel has only struggled offensively,  averaging only 211.0 rushing yards per game. Defensively, The Citadel allows over 200 rushing yards per game, while Army only gives up 66.8 yards per game.

Why To Watch
Army is a heavy favorite (spread currently sitting at -31.5), and with so many other high-profile top-25 matchups Saturday, this matchup between the two military schools might not be high on the must-watch list. Yet there are some interesting storylines coming into the game that should garner the attention of both Army and Citadel fans, alike. For Bulldog fans, it might be the last time they see offensive duo of quarterback Brandon Rainey and wide receiver Raleigh Webb in uniform. Both players graduate in December, and unless they enroll in a masters degree program at The Citadel, they will be ineligible for Bulldog’s spring SoCon slate. For Army fans, their starting quarterback, Christian Anderson, is questionable to play on Saturday after sustaining a leg injury in their last game. If he is unable to play, backup Jemel Jones will most likely be his successor. In this case, it will be interesting to see how he performs in what would be his first career start. And if Anderson is out for an extended period of time, Army will have to rely on Jones for their remaining games.

The Citadel Players to Watch
Emeka Nwanze
The redshirt-sophomore running back is coming off a career game against Eastern Kentucky, rushing for 114 yards on 22 carries (both career highs). For a Bulldog team that has lacked offensive production, the performance was a positive sign for conference play. Nwaze is quick and extremely agile. Look for him to have another positive showing on Saturday.

Jaylan Adams
The 5’10, 165-pound backup quarterback is perhaps the future of The Citadel’s offensive scheme. With my aforementioned note on Saturday perhaps being Brandon Rainey’s last game, the offensive keys will be handed to Adams. If the game is a blowout, Adams should get some more reps at quarterback. But even if the game is close, Citadel coach Brent Thompson might utilize Adams to mix up the offensive strategy against an impressive Black Knight defense.

Army Players To Watch
Sandon McCoy
The Black Knight’s starting fullback is one of many Army offensive players that could give The Citadel defense problems. The 5’11, 230-pound senior ranks fifth in the country in rushing touchdowns with five on the season. For an Army offense that relies on productive fullback production, McCoy is a prototypical short yardage guy. He bounces off of hits and usually requires two or three opposing players to tackle him. McCoy was a Phil Steele Preseason All-Independent First-Team Selection and has lived up to the hype so far this season. 

Joe Rhattigan
The 6’1, 245-pound senior linebacker leads a defense that has held opponents to just 13.5 points per game, top-ten in the country. Rhattigan recorded nine tackles against Abilene Christian, including one tackle-for-a-loss. The Naperville, Illinois, native will be busy stopping the Bulldog rushing attack.

Keys To Game
In order for The Citadel to have any shot at winning, they must do a better job at maintaining time-of-possession, a difficult task against Army. The Black Knights operate one of the most efficient offenses in the country and, in doing so, typically dominate their opponent in time-of-possession. The Citadel will have to utilize all of their trick plays to try and fool Army that will likely know their playbook unlike any other opponent The Citadel has faced. As this is The Citadel’s last game of the fall, expect them to throw everything they have at Army.

Manning’s Fun Facts
⦁ The Citadel has never faced Army at home in Charleston, South Carolina. All nine previous matchups took place at Michie Stadium. The Black Knights’ hold a 7-2 all time advantage over the Bulldogs.

⦁ Citadel punter Matt Campbell launched a 54-yard punt against Eastern Kentucky. The boot was his longest of the season. Campbell would rank 36th among FBS punters if he was included in their punting statistics.

Conclusion
These two schools have an immense amount of respect for each other, moreso for their commitment to their country. Players from both teams understand the pillars of honor, duty, and respect. And while The Citadel is not a military academy, they go through many of the same daily routines as their Army counterparts.  But back to football: expect The Citadel to put up a fight early in this matchup, but be overmatched in the end by Army’s offensive and defensive weapons.