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Citadel Searching for First Win

By Manning Snyder
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Manning Snyder previews The Citadel's contest with Samford.

The Citadel will play at home Saturday as they face Samford in Charleston, South Carolina. The Bulldogs (0-8, 0-4) are still winless on the year. Samford (2-3, 2-3), the other Bulldogs, were defeated at home by VMI last weekend. The Citadel was beaten by ETSU, 28-21. The biggest storyline coming out of last week’s contest for The Citadel was the injury to quarterback Jaylan Adams. His backup,  5’10, 162-pound redshirt sophomore Darique Hampton, came into the game in the third quarter and performed well. Adams is questionable for Saturday’s game as he is in the concussion protocol. Samford is the more confident team in this matchup, with two of their three losses coming against ranked SoCon teams. The Citadel will have nothing to lose, though, and will look to snap a losing streak that dates back to November 2019. Samford is a ten-and-a-half point favorite heading into the weekend.

Why To Watch
Although The Citadel is a team with not a lot of motivation to play for, Bulldog fans should watch to see how Hampton performs. He has a similar build to Adams and is just as explosive as a runner. One could argue that he might even have a better arm than Adams. For Samford, they are still very much in the hunt for the FCS playoffs. After The Citadel, they play Chattanooga and Mercer––two very winnable games. If Samford finishes out the year undefeated (at 5-3, 5-3), they might sneak their way into the playoff conversation.

The Citadel Player To Watch
B-Back Nathan Storch
I have already highlighted the 6’0, 195-pound redshirt freshman in a previous article, but he is my Citadel player to watch this week. Last week against ETSU, the Spartanburg, South Carolina, native carried the ball 19 times for 54 yards. Coach Brent Thompson has been complimentary of Storch, admiring his toughness and consistency. In order for The Citadel to upset Samford on Saturday, Storch must force the Samford defense to defend the middle of the line of scrimmage. By grinding out yards on the fullback dive play, Storch opens up The Citadel playbook to outside runs and fakes.

Samford Players To Watch
QB Liam Welch
Samford’s quarterback and offensive leader was given SoCon Offensive Player of the Week honors on Monday. The Augusta, Georgia, native had a monster performance last weekend, throwing for a single-game passing record 570 yards against VMI. The 6’2, 205-pound graduate-student is leading the SoCon in passing yards per game (373.3) and total offense yards per game  (413.8 yards). If Welch has a big day Saturday, the home Bulldogs are going to be in big trouble.

S Chris Edmonds
The sophomore safety is emerging as the defensive leader for the Samford squad. Through five games, he has totaled 31 tackles, forced two fumbles, and intercepted four passes. The Columbus, Georgia, native will lead a Samford defense that has allowed at least 24 points in all of their games this season.

Keys to Game
Samford has a very strong offense, averaging 36.6 points per game (good for 7th in the NCAA FCS). While The Citadel has struggled defensive this season, I think that they will be prepared for Welch’s air attack. Instead, the key to a Citadel victory  is the turnover margin. On the season, Samford has a +2 turnover margin; The Citadel is at -6. Samford also has the advantage in almost all of the other statistical categories (including first downs, points per game, and rushing yards per game). Samford can give up some points of their own, so look to The Citadel to finally develop some sort of rhythm offensively.

Manning’s Fun Fact
Citadel cornerback Javonte Middleton, the Military Captain of the Bulldog squad, is listed as the backup quarterback for Saturday’s game. The redshirt-sophomore, Savannah, Georgia, native played some quarterback in high school, so fans needn’t worry about his experience under center should he be forced into the role.

While The Citadel’s slow starts are well-documented by local media (and by me),  I think that Citadel will defy all odds and start the game without allowing a touchdown or committing a turnover! Shocking, I know. I’m also going to be bold and predict The Citadel to upset the other rival Bulldogs and finally win a game to hang their hat on. The win will give the home Citadel crowd some optimism heading into the fall season.

Manning Snyder - A Charleston, South Carolina-native, Manning Snyder covers The Citadel and Southern Conference football.