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The Citadel offers potent rushing attack

Jeff Birchfield • Oct 10, 2018 at 6:53 PM

JOHNSON CITY — The term run-heavy certainly applies when it comes to The Citadel football offense.

Through four games, the Bulldogs (1-3 overall, 1-2 Southern Conference) have 255 rushing attempts to just 47 passes. Not surprising, other statistics are skewed heavily toward the run as well as the Bulldogs routinely operate out of a triple-option offense.

Sixty-two of the team's 76 first downs have come on running plays, and there have been 11 rushing touchdowns to just two in the passing game.

So the first key for No. 23 East Tennessee State (5-1, 3-0) during Saturday's 2 p.m. game at Johnson Hagood Stadium in Charleston, South Carolina, is to slow down the run. It’s made more challenging with The Citadel's option offense.

"I think they have a good attack," ETSU coach Randy Sanders said. "In a lot of ways, it's almost a battle of wills. Defensively, you have to maintain your eye discipline. You cannot get outside the discipline of the defense because every piece has to fit together. Somebody has to take the dive, somebody has to take the quarterback, somebody has to take the pitch. To do it over and over and over takes a lot of mental toughness."

ETSU showed toughness in stopping the run against Gardner-Webb, ironically nicknamed the Running Bulldogs, in a 45-0 win last Saturday. Gardner-Webb had 29 rushes for 59 yards after being minus-five yards at the end of the first quarter.

As for this version of the Bulldogs, the rushing game truly defines their success. Not surprising, they lead the Southern Conference in time of possession at over 33 minutes per game.

They are led by Lorenzo Ward, who leads the Southern Conference in 99.8 rushing yards per game.

Through four games, Ward has totaled 399 rushing yards, including a pair of 100-plus yards games. Grant Drakeford adds another dimension, a dual-threat back. He has 29 carries for 259 yards, an average of 8.9 yards per carry. He is also the team's leading receiver with six catches for 142 yards.

Other leading rushers include quarterback Jordan Black, who has 195 yards, and Clay Harris with 129 yards. As a team, the Bulldogs have run for 1,204 yards, nearly 300 more yards than their opponents.

So far, the Bulldogs haven't shown to be much of a threat through the air. Black has completed just 15 of 47 pass attempts (31.3 percent) for 343 yards. 

NO ADAMS ON THE FIELD

Jaylan Adams, the 2017 Johnson City Press Elite 11 Player of the Year from Science Hill High School, has been redshirted by The Citadel this season. Adams, who was a record-setting quarterback for the Hilltoppers, is now listed as a defensive back on the Bulldogs' website.

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