SoCon Notebook: A Look At Furman vs. The Citadel
Furman (4-2, 2-0 SoCon) at The Citadel (2-4, 0-3 SoCon)
Furman and The Citadel will be meeting for the 89th time on Saturday in the league’s oldest rivalry. The Paladins hold a 55-30-3 all-time series edge. Furman was fortunate in its last outing on Saturday, as the Paladins were able to get their 11th-straight Homecoming victory in dramatic fashion, as Furman defensive end Kyle McKinney blocked Cameron Yaw’s 39-yard, game-winning field goal attempt, delivering the Paladins a 26-24 victory and keeping their hopes alive for a Southern Conference championship and FCS postseason invitation.
The Citadel on the other hand, dropped their third-straight contest on Saturday, with a 14-10, come-from-behind win by the Western Carolina Catamounts. The Bulldogs limped away from Cullowhee, with injuries to both first string quarterback Bart Blanchard and Miguel Starks. Blanchard is questionable for Saturday’s contest between the Paladins and Bulldogs. Blanchard injured his left foot on The Citadel’s opening possession against Western. Blanchard finished the contest, connecting on 9-of-11 passes for 94 yards and a TD, while Starks was 12-of-19 passing for 71 yards and was sacked twice. All-American wide receiver Andre Roberts finished with 78 yards receiving on nine receptions.
The Paladins come into Saturday’s contest, sporting one of the premier offenses in the SoCon. Furman ranks third in the league in scoring offense (27.7 PPG.), fourth in rushing offense (149.5 YPG.), third in passing offense (229.7 YPG.) and third in total offense (379.2 YPG.).
The Paladins are led by senior signal-caller Jordan Sorrells, who is coming off a strong performance in last week’s 26-24 win over Samford. Sorrells finished that contest by connecting on 21-of-28 passes for 205 yards and three TDs. For the season, Sorrells has connected on 123-of-192 passes for 1,323 yards, with nine TD passes and three interceptions.
Sorrells has had some solid performances against The Citadel during his illustrious Paladin career. In last season’s 34-20 win over the Bulldogs at Paladin Stadium, Sorrells completed 21-of-29 passes for 253 yards and three TD passes. As a freshman against the Bulldogs in 2006, Sorrells made his first collegiate start against the Bulldogs and made the most of that start, as he connected on 20-of-31 passes for 215 yards in a 23-17 victory over the Bulldogs. Sorrells, who has 5,264 career passing yards, needs just 488 yards to surpass Ingle Martin as the school’s all-time leading passer.
Sorrells’ favorite target in the passing game over the past couple of season’s has been Adam Mims. Mims, who’s not as heralded a receiver as The Citadel’s Andre Roberts, is currently leading Roberts in just about every statistical category. Mims comes into Saturday’s contest as the league’s second-leading receiver, having caught 42 passes for 444 yards and a TD in ‘09.
Mims had trouble finding any gaps in the Samford defense last Saturday, as he had only six catches for 13 yards. Mims is averaging 10.6 yards-per-reception and 74.0 yards receiving per game. In last year’s 14-point victory over the Bulldogs, Mims led the Paladins with seven catches for 89 yards and a couple of TD receptions.
R.J. Webb and David Hendrix are two other significant factors in the Furman passing game. Webb, who has missed the past two seasons with a injuries to each knee. Webb has had a decent season thus far and caught a TD in last week’s win over Samford. Webb is the team’s second-leading wide receiver this season, having hauled in 16 passes for 137 yards and a couple of TDs.
Hendrix has been looked to as more of a possession receiver, although he had a career-best 48-yard reception on a deep ball last Saturday and leads the team in average per reception, with an 18.5-yard clip. In all in ‘09, Hendrix has caught 13 passes for 241 yards. Hendrix had a solid game against the Bulldogs last season, hauling in five passes for 63 yards.
Though he hasn’t been as productive a receiver as he was last fall to this point, tight end Chris Truss has only six catches for 42 yards, however, half of those receptions have been for TDs, which is a team standard for scoring catches.
Furman has again used the running-back-by-committee approach this season, with Tersoo Uhaa and Jerodis Williams. Now a third is added to that mix, as Mike Brown made his return last week against Samford after suffering a severely sprained ankle in preseason camp that kept him out of the first five games of the ‘09 season.
In his absence, the sophomore Uhaa has been the go-to running back and has made the most of those leading responsibilities. Uhaa is leading the Furman running game this season, having gained 325 yards and has matched last season’s eight rushing TDs through six games this season on 83 rush attempts. He’s averaging 3.9 YPC. and 54.2 rushing yards per outing.
Jerodis Williams, a 5'11", 185-pound native of Prattville, AL., has been maybe the best Paladin freshman running back since Louis Ivory. This season, Williams has excelled both running the football and catching the ball out of the backfield.
The multi-threat Williams has rushed for 276 yards and a TD on 57 rush attempts. He’s averaging 4.8 yards per tote and 46 yards rushing per game. As a receiving threat coming out of the backfield, Williams has caught 11 passes for 117 yards and a TD, averaging 10.6 yards-per-catch. Williams caught his first TD on Saturday on an eight-yard strike from Sorrells in the first quarter.
Mike Brown was a Second-Team All-SoCon selection last season and made an impact in his return to the lineup last Saturday, thanks to his efforts as a part of the kick return team, setting up Furman in great field position time after time on against Samford. Brown had five kick returns for 126 yards on Saturday, averaging 25.2 YPR.
His presence as a kick return threat adds another dimension to the special teams department for the Paladins. As a running threat on Saturday, Brown had 10 rushes for 35 yards. Two years ago against the Bulldogs, Brown took a kickoff back 76 yards for a score against the Bulldogs to help force overtime. In last year’s win over The Citadel, Brown rushed for 72 yards on 16 carries, while catching three passes for 45 yards.
Furman’s offensive line has played about as well as it has since 2005. The Paladins’ offensive front is anchored by Tyler Haynes (LG) and Heath Cockburn (RG). Haynes and Cockburn have combined to start 55-consecutive contests, with Cockburn sporting 30-straight starts and Haynes having logged 25-straight assignments.
Both are part of an offensive line that has fielded one of the SoCon’s elite offensive units this season. Teaming with Haynes and Cockburn are center Daniel Spisak, Antonio Frazier at right tackle and Ryan Lee at left tackle. The Paladins have yielded a league-low four sacks.
The Furman defense has seen improvement with each week. The Paladins enter Saturday afternoon’s contest with the Bulldogs, ranking ninth in total defense (400.5 YPG.), ninth in passing defense (274.8 YPG.), third in rushing defense (125.7 YPG.), and fourth in scoring defense (25.0 YPG.).
Furman has a veteran defensive line, anchored by senior nose tackle Justin Brown. The 5'11", 265-pound senior from Warner Robins, GA., is a two-time All-SoCon college and is the emotional leader of the Furman defense. Brown has had a solid senior season thus far, racking up 22 tackles and two tackles-for-loss. He had one of his best games of the 2008 season against The Citadel, totaling five tackles, two tackles-for-loss and had a sack.
Lining up alongside Brown on the defensive interior on Saturday afternoon for the Paladins on Saturday afternoon will be sophomore Bryan Poole. The 6'3", 277-pound native of Marietta, GA., is one of the unsung heroes of the Furman defensive line and has fit in nicely along the defensive interior in his first season as a starter after the graduation of Ricky Jones. Poole has started all six games for the Paladins, recording 12 tackles, 1.5 tackles-for-loss and a sack in ‘09.
Manning the respective bookend positions for Saturday afternoon’s contest with The Citadel will be a pair of seniors, in Kyle McKinney and Shaun Van Rensburg. McKinney was the hero of last week’s victory over Samford with his block of a 39-yard field goal attempt by Samford’s Cameron Yaw.
McKinney, a 6'1", 257-pound senior from Atlanta, made his much awaited return to the Furman defensive line three weeks ago against Western Carolina, after suffering a broken foot prior to fall camp. McKinney is the most athletic performer along the Furman defensive line and is the best pass-rusher of the Paladins’ down lineman. In three games this season, McKinney has 10 tackles, a pass break-up and a blocked kick. After making the transition from linebacker to defensive end last season, he had 24 tackles and 2.5 tackles-for-loss.
Shaun Van Rensburg, another veteran defensive end, has battled everything from injuries to size issues in his career to mold himself into an impressive presence at the left defensive end position.
The 6'4", 250-pound senior from Jacksonville, FL., boasts quality experience in his career, but has yet to assert himself as a pass-rushing threat in ‘09. He needs to step up his play and help provide McKinney with assistance in the pass-rushing responsibilities.
Van Rensburg has 21 tackles, two tackles-for-loss and half-a-sack so far in ‘09. Van Rensburg has managed to fashion some of his best performances in games against the Bulldogs. Last season, Van Rensburg had four tackles and a pair of sacks in the the 34-20 win. Two years ago in Furman’s 54-51 overtime loss, Van Rensburg had four tackles and a sack.
Furman has two of the most athletically-gifted linebackers heading into Saturday’s Palmetto State clash with arch-rival The Citadel. One of those linebackers is a player worthy of being recognized as a candidate for the Buck Buchanan Award—an annual award given to the top FCS defensive player-in middle linebacker Kadarron Anderson.
The 6'1", 235-pound native of Greenwood, S.C., currently leads the Southern Conference and ranks fourth nationally in total tackles. He’s a vicious, sure-tackler and enters Saturday’s clash with the Bulldogs averaging 13.0 tackles-per-game.
The sophomore is on pace to challenge Frank Moses’ (1974-77) 523 career tackles before his career is finished. He’s recorded 50 of his total 78 tackles in the past three weeks, including a career-high 19-tackle performance in last week’s win over Samford. In addition to his 78 stops, he has four tackles-for-loss, two pass break-ups and a fumble recovery.
Set to start at the other linebacker spot in Furman’s 4-2-5 defensive alignment is another talented, athletic sophomore, Chris Wiley. Wiley, a 5'9", 209-pound native of Anderson, S.C., is virtually cast in the same mold as his partner Anderson.
Wiley is extremely active and has a nose for the football and a knack for making big plays. In his first season as a starter, Wiley has 50 tackles, a team-leading 6.5 tackles-for-loss, two sacks, two pass break-ups, one interception, one fumble recovery and a forced fumble. Wiley is one of the faster players on the Furman defense.
The ringleaders of the Furman defense this season have been junior ‘rover’ Max Lerner and senior ‘bandit’ Julian Hicks. Lerner, a 5'11", 192-pound native of Birmingham, AL., is an incredibly smart player, with great instincts and loves to make the big hit.
In the 4-2-5, Lerner is free to roam and make plays, but excels the most in reading passing lanes. In many ways, Lerner resembles former Appalachian State All-American Corey Lynch, with his ability to provide momentum-changing plays for the Furman defense. This season, Lerner 32 tackles, two tackles-for-loss, two interceptions, including one returned for a TD against UTC, and a pass break-up.
Julian Hicks, a 5'9", 192-pound senior from College Park, GA., will start at the ‘bandit’ position for the Paladins and, like Lerner, is free to roam and use his athleticism to make plays and is used in a number of blitz packages off the edge.
Hicks is one of the surest tacklers on the Furman defense and possesses a propensity for making big hits. Looked to as one of the defensive leaders, Hicks exemplified his athleticism a couple of years ago in Statesboro, as he was used to spy eventual Walter Payton Award-winning quarterback, Jayson Foster, for Georgia Southern.
From that point forward, he became a key component of Furman’s 4-2-5 defensive formation, designed to stop spreads like the one The Citadel brings into Saturday’s matchup. So far this season, Hicks has 26 tackles and 1.5 tackles-for-loss.
Furman has two of the most underrated cornerbacks in the league. Though both are young, Ryan Steed and Jordan Griffin have continued to gain experience and shown glimpses of an exciting future for the Paladins at cornerback, as the two have the potential to be the best tandem of cornerbacks to ever don the Purple and White.
Steed, a 5'11", 185-pound native of Mt. Pleasant, S.C., has alread been called by some as having the potential to be the best ever to play cornerback for the Paladins. He’ll have some extra incentive on Saturday, playing in his hometown and in front of plenty of family and friends.
Steed has put up some numbers worthy of all-conference consideration this season. He has 36 tackles, a team-leading tying two interceptions, a team-leading eight pass break-ups, a tackle-for-loss, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery. He had three tackles in last year’s contest against the Bulldogs and picked off a pass last Saturday against Samford.
Jordan Griffin has seen more throws to his side of the field this season, and in some cases, has had to learn the hard way. However, Griffin continues to improve and is slowly emerging into a solid cornerback.
The 5'10", 167-pound sophomore from Fairburn, GA., has seen a majority of the action on his side of the field mainly due to the fact that teams are staying away from the ball-hawking Steed. Griffin has good speed and isn’t afraid to mix things up in terms of being physical against receivers. Griffin is third on the team in tackles, having recorded 38 tackles, five pass break-ups and a tackle-for-loss.
Rouding out the starters on the Furman defense is free safety Nathan Wade. The 6'0", 188-pound native of Antioch, TN., has progressively gotten better each week and is always looking to make the big hit.
In many ways, he resembles former Furman strong safety John Keith, who went on to be one of the best defensive backs to ever play at Furman and was drafted by the San Francisco 49ERS. He came into the season with some pretty large shoes to fill, having to replace All-SoCon safety Thomas Twitty. So far this season, Wade has 30 tackles and three pass break-ups.
The Citadel has some pretty big question marks at the quarterback position entering Saturday afternoon’s contest against Furman. Bart Blanchard injured his left toe on the Bulldogs’ first drive of Saturday’s 14-10 loss to Western Carolina and is questionable for Saturday afternoon’s game with Furman. To make matters worse, backup signal-caller Miguel Starks injured his right ankle, meaning the Bulldogs might be forced to resort to third-string quarterback Cam Turner
Though he might not be 100-percent on Saturday, Blanchard will probably start Saturday, with Starks and possibly Turner seeing action on Saturday. Blanchard, a 6'2", 200-pound product of Rock Hill, S.C., is a strong-armed, accurate passer that was forced into action back in 2007 as a freshman, when starting quarterback Duran Lawson suffered a career-ending knee injury late in the 2007 season.
To this point in Blanchard’s career, he has completed 354-of-585 passes for 4,147 yards. Blanchard needs just 1,230 yards passing over his final year-and-a-half to surpass Duran Lawson as the school’s all-time leading passer.
This season, Blanchard has struggled a bit and that could because his toe has bothered him most of the season. In total this season, Blanchard has connected on 91-of-149 passes for 887 yards, 11 TDs and seven interceptions. In last season’s 34-20 loss at Furman, Blanchard connected on 20-of-37 throws for 196 yards, with two TDs and an interception.
Miguel Starks, who has seen some playing time in a dual quarterback role with Blanchard in some situations this season, might see increased snaps on Saturday if his ankle is good to go.
The 6'2", 219-pound product of Atlanta, GA., is a talented athlete and gives the Bulldogs and head coach Kevin Higgins another dimension to their spread, which is something they haven’t had since Duran Lawson had healthy knees.
He gives the Bulldogs’ offense the ability to run some zone read option, similar to Appalachian State’s spread, while Starks also possesses a strong arm. However, that dimension might be limited on Saturday depending upon the status of Starks’ ankle.
So far this season, Starks has connected on 17-of-28 passes for 121 yards, while leading the team in rushing, with 217 yards and a TD on 55 rush attempts (3.9 YPC.). If the game started today, Starks is further along than Blanchard and would draw the start.
Coming into Saturday’s game, The Citadel’s offense ranks fifth in scoring offense (22.3 PPG.), sixth in rushing offense (112.8 YPG.), seventh in passing offense (170.0 YPG.), and seventh in total offense (282.8 YPG.).
The Citadel has had trouble running the football this season, but have two capable running backs to handle the load coming into Saturday’s contest against the Paladins.
Leading the charge in the backfield so far this season is true freshman running back Van Dyke Jones. The 5'10", 180-pound native of Norfolk, VA., is a good combo back, in that he can catch the ball out of the backfield.
He has tremendous speed and he showed that speed when he ran away from the Appalachian State defense for a 69-yard TD scamper in the 30-27 double-overtime loss to the Mountaineers three weeks ago.
Van Dyke Jones has asserted himself as a freshman in much the same fashion that Asheton Jordan was last season. In total this season, Van Dyke Jones has 199 yards and two TDs on 33 carries (5.7 YPC.) in ‘09. Jones also has seven catches for 68 yards.
Terrell Dallas has been looked to as the veteran of the running game, however, he hasn’t appeared to be the same player he was since he tore his ACL in the final game of the 2008 season against Florida.
The 6'0", 218-pound native of Fernandina, FL., is a good compliment to Jones’ speed, as Dallas is more of a power back and is good in short-yardage situations. Dallas has decent speed, but has lost a step or two since the injury against Florida last season. Dallas has rushed for 150 yards and two TDs on 39 attempts (3.9 YPC.). Dallas has caught seven passes for 45 yards this season.
Walter Payton Award candidate Andre Roberts has found the treading especially tough this season and the Bulldogs’ offense has relied heavily on him this season and that’s been a big problem, as team’s have figured out how to limit Roberts’ effectiveness.
Roberts was effective in last Saturday’s loss to Western Carolina, as he caught nine passes for 78 yards and a TD, while adding 16 yards rushing in the contest. Roberts as given the Paladins problems in the past, as he caught nine passes for 122 yards, which included a 62-yard reception a couple of years ago in The Citadel’s, 54-51, overtime win.
In last season’s 34-20 loss to the Paladins, Roberts caught 10 passes for 87 yards and a score. In total this season, Roberts has hauled in 41 passes for 408 yards and five TDs. He’s averaging 10.0 YPR. and is averaging 68.0 receiving yards per game.
As a punt return threat this season, Roberts has returned five punts for 72 yards, averaging 14.4 yards-per-return. As a running threat this season, Roberts has gained 69 yards on nine rushing attempts this season for the Bulldogs. In total for his Citadel career, Roberts has caught 249 passes for 3,359 yards and 34 TDs.
Two other key options in the passing game for the Bulldogs entering Saturday afternoon’s contest with the Paladins are Scott Harward and Kevin Hardy. Harward has taken some of the pressure off of Roberts this season and has been a pretty reliable option in the passing game for the Bulldogs.
The 5'10", 190-pound native of Spartanburg, S.C., has had a breakout season this fall for the Bulldogs. Harward has decent speed and, other than Roberts, the best hands of any of the receivers on the roster for the Bulldogs.
Harward has been key in The Citadel’s offensive success this season and has stepped up to be Blanchard’s second option in the passing attack. In all this season, Harward has been able to haul in 22 passes for 221 yards, averaging 10.0 yards per reception.
Kevin Hardy, a 6'0", 184-pound native of Ocala, FL., is one of the fastest players on the offensive side of the football and is utilized mainly as a deep threat. Hardy hasn’t seen many passes come his way this season, however, he has managed to haul in eight passes for 63 yards and a TD in ‘09, averaging 7.9 yards per catch
Perhaps one of the best tight ends in the Southern Conference is The Citadel’s Alex Sellars. Sellers is one of the top pass-catching tight ends in the league, and the Bulldogs usually look for Sellars in the red zone.
The 6'1", 187-pound native of Mount Pleasant, S.C., is a veteran player, having played in all 11 contests last season for the Bulldogs last season, drawing a start against Furman.
In the game against the Paladins last season, he caught one pass for a three-yard TD. In fact, all three of Sellars’ receptions last season resulted in TDs. In much the same fashion this season, Sellars has hauled in nine passes for 86 yards and ranks second on the team with four TD receptions.
The most veteran unit on the offensive side of the football for the Bulldogs is the offensive line, where there are two fifth-year seniors, in left tackle Daniel DeHaven and center Thomas Suggs.
DeHaven, a 6'5", 290-pound First-Team All-SoCon selection a year ago, possesses tremendous strength, good feet and excellent technique. All three of those traits should help DeHaven challenge for All-America honors this season.
He has started 29-consecutive games for the Bulldogs. He is joined along the offensive front by the aforementioned Suggs, left guard Colton Clifton, right guard Cory Pope and right tackle Lincoln Kling.
Defensively, the Bulldogs returned eight starters from a year ago. Through six games this season, the Bulldogs rank eighth in total defense (399.3 YPG), seventh in passing defense (215.3 YPG), eighth in rushing defense (184.0 YPG.), and fifth in scoring defense (25.8 PPG.).
Anchoring the Bulldogs defense is an experienced defensive line. Terrence Reese, a 6-0, 286-pound native of North, S.C., might just be the best player on the defensive side of the football for the Bulldogs and could quite possibly be the top defensive tackle in the league.
Reese, a preseason First-Team All-SoCon selection, has tremendous strength and generates uncanny power. He has helped shore up Citadel’s run defense as well as being effective as a pass-rusher at nose tackle.
His experience and overall talent should again help him vie for all-league honors and perhaps All-America accolades. Through six games this season, Reese has managed to register 25 tackles, a team-leading five tackles-for-loss and a team standard two sacks.
Another key component of the defensive line for the Bulldogs coming into Saturday’s SoCon clash with arch-rival Furman is DeWitt Jones. Jones is another legitimate all-league candidate and garnered Second-Team All-SoCon honors for the Bulldogs last season.
Jones, a 6'3", 231-pound native of Fairhope, AL., is a player that has a motor that is always running. He has started 18-straight games at one of the defensive end positions for the Bulldogs. He didn’t put up huge numbers against the Paladins last season, but he did manage to record two solo tackles in the contest. This season, Jones has 29 tackles, 3.5 tackles-for-loss, two pass break-ups and a sack.
Set to start at the other defensive end position for the Bulldogs is redshirt freshman Chris Billingslea. The 6'5", 233-pound native of Fort Mill, S.C., has been one of the pleasant surprises on the defensive side of the football this season for the Bulldogs. Billingslea is a gifted athlete and has the potential to be an all-league type player in the future for the Bulldogs. In six starts this season for the Bulldogs, Billingslea has 17 tackles and half-a-tackle-for-loss.
Rounding out the starters along the defensive line for the Bulldogs is junior defensive tackle Kyle Anderson. The 6'4", 275-pound transfer from Western Kentucky has had an immediate impact as a member of the Bulldogs’ defense.
Anderson brings a physical tenacity to the defensive line that the Bulldogs possessed back in 2007. The Bloomington, MN., native is strong and quick, and has a nose for the football. He has started all six contests for the Bulldogs in his first season with the program, and has made the most of his new surroundings, recording 26 tackles, 4.5 tackles-for-loss and a sack.
The Bulldogs are led by veteran, junior linebacker Jordon Gilmore at middle linebacker. He’s the emotional leader of this Bulldogs defense and the 5'1"1, 220-pound product of Belmont, N.C., appears to be well on his way to earning all-league accolades in ‘09.
Gilmore is the most active player on the defensive side of the football for the Cadets, and is one of the team’s best athletes. For the second-straight season, Gilmore is leading the defense in tackles, having totaled 56 stops so far in ‘09. In addition to his tackles total, Gilmore has 1.5 tackles-for-loss, one sack, a pass break-up and a fumble recovery.
Flanking Gilmore on either side at the respective outside linebacker positions are Tolu Akindele at strong side linebacker and Jeremy Buncum at weakside linebacker.
Akindele, a 5'10", 211-pound native of Houston,TX., won the starting job in fall camp and has been a force at strong side linebacker this season ever since. Akindele is thought by many to be the most athletic player on the defensive side of the ball and is a player that’s motor is always running, playing from sideline-to-sideline. In six games this season as a starter, Akindele has 25 tackles.
Weakside linebacker Jeremy Buncum completes a young, talented and athletic linebacking corps for the Bulldogs. Buncum, a 6'0", 203-pound sophomore that the coaching staff feels has all the potential to be a great player in The Citadel Blue before his time is up in the Port City.
Buncum is a tremendous athlete and a versatile performer. He possesses the ability to make plays against the run as well as having the ability to drop into coverage and make plays against the pass. In six games this season, Buncum ranks second on the team in tackles, with 32 stops. In addition to his tackle total, Buncum has two tackles-for-loss, two pass break-ups, a sack and an interception.
Coming into the 2009 season, one of the concerns for head coach Kevin Higgins and staff was the secondary. Surprisingly, despite the youth, the Bulldogs have had some of their finest moments as a result of their playmaking secondary this season.
Anchoring the youthful unit has been junior ‘bandit’ safety Demetrius Jackson. Jackson, who has shared time with talented sophomore Rod Harland, is the vocal, emotional leader of the secondary.
The 5'10", 190-pound native of Columbus, GA., actually recording his best outing last season against Furman, leading the Bulldogs’ defense with 10 tackles. Jackson is a physical, tenacious hitter and will be a player to watch on Saturday afternoon against the Paladins. The ball-hawking safety has managed to rack up 30 tackles and a pass break-up.
Another contributor at ‘bandit’ safety this season has been sophomore Rod Harland. The 5-10, 203-pound native of Hartwell, GA., was one of the most impressive young players in fall camp, earning a place on the depth chart and has made his presence felt as one of the young leaders in the secondary this season, splitting time with Jackson.
Harland is one of the team’s hardest hitters and is a sure tackler. Harland was cited by coach Higgins for his impressive play in last week’s loss at Western Carolina. Harland has 27 tackles and a tackle-for-loss this season.
Redshirt freshman Joseph Boateng has been one of the stories of the 2009 edition of The Citadel defense. The 5'10", 180-pound walk-on has started all six games at the ‘rover’ safety position for the Bulldogs, and made his impact from the inception of the 2009 season.
In the opening week 40-6 loss to North Carolina, all Boateng did was garner SoCon Freshman of the Week honors by picking off two passes in his first collegiate game. Boateng is one of the hardest workers on the team and has been rewarded by earning the starting nod at the ‘rover’ safety position. In total this season, Boateng has also registered 23 tackles, two tackles-for-loss and has broken up four passes.
The two starting cornerbacks for Bulldogs on Saturday afternoon will be Cortez Allen and Ryan Jones. Allen, a 6'2", 185-pound native of Ocala, FL. has all-conference type talent and is player that can make game-changing plays for the Bulldogs. Allen is likely the best cover-corner that the Bulldogs have. So far this season, Allen has 26 tackles, four pass break-ups, a fumble recovery and an interception.
Senior Ryan Jones is the most- experienced player in the secondary for the Bulldogs and is one of the leaders on the defensive side of the football for the Bulldogs. Jones saw action in 11 games last season, logging eight starts and is poised to have another strong season for the Bulldogs. Jones has excellent athleticism and can make plays against the pass and against the run. In six games this fall, Jones has 17 tackles and a pass break-up.
The Citadel and Furman is the oldest rivalry in the Southern Conference and right now, it seems it is a matchup between two teams going in two different directions. Furman will be playing for their playoff lives on Saturday afternoon, while the Bulldogs will be playing for pride.
A once promising season has turned sour for the Bulldogs. The loss to Western Carolina last Saturday might be enough to have take the wind out of the proverbial sails. Furman hands The Citadel yet another setback on Saturday, although the Bulldogs keep it close in Charleston
Furman 38 The Citadel 31