Matchup against The Citadel won’t be a cakewalk

Hayden Boudreaux

Eagle fans are undoubtedly riding the high of last week’s staggering victory over Western Michigan and many are already looking past The Citadel and thinking of them as a “cupcake” opponent. While the odds are in favor for the Eagles, they will not be able to win by just showing up.

Only two years ago both teams played in the same conference and even shared a bit of a rivalry at times. The older players for The Citadel will be chomping at the bit to get a chance to see how much the Eagles have actually improved since their last contest. The Bulldogs enter the game with an undefeated record, something they have over the Eagles. Their first game against Davidson was a runaway 69-0 win and was followed by a 28-10 win over Western Carolina. Because of these lopsided victories, The Citadel will come into the game with the belief that they can compete and possibly upset their former conference opponents.

Up front on the defensive line the Bulldogs are similar to West Virginia. They like to use their defensive linemen to clog gaps and force runners to go around the outside and into the arms of their linebackers. Senior defensive lineman Mitchell Jeter has been living in the backfields this season with two sacks and three total tackles for loss. The defense has allowed only 204 rushing yards through the first two games but Georgia Southern may very easily trounce that number if their offensive lineman are able to effectively make their blocks and not allow themselves to be stood up by the smaller defensive line.

The Citadel line backing core returns all three of their starters from last season, including leading tackler Tevin Floyd who amassed 80 total tackles and 3.5 sacks. Floyd has continued to be a force this season with 14 tackles and an interception through two games. The Eagles will also have to keep an eye out for senior linebacker James Riley who currently leads the team with 15 tackles and is certainly the dominant performer against the run. The misdirection used by the Eagle offense will confuse and exploit that confusion in the linebackers.

While Eagle quarterback Favian Upshaw only threw four passes last week, fans should expect more through the air. This is not only because of the return of suspended quarterback Kevin Ellison but also it is an excellent opportunity against a non-conference opponent to improve weaker areas of the offense. One of the professed leaders of the Bulldog defense is junior corner Malik Diggs and he plans to exploit the weaknesses of the Eagle passing attack. Diggs was ranked third on the team last season in tackles and is currently fourth with 12 total. Diggs has yet to pick up an interception but his defensive backfield has not allowed one passing touchdown through the first two games.

Their defense has had a lot of success this year and the Eagles should expect no less than the best effort the Bulldogs can put forward. This game is not a must-win but a must-dominate in order to further distance themselves from their Southern Conference past. An early lead coupled with another bruising effort from the offensive line will take The Citadel out of the competition and force them to give up early.