Three points from Saturday’s 28-26 win over Samford:
1. Citadel coaches have taken their share of grief this season, rightly so in some instances and perhaps undeservedly in others. That will happen when you are 2-6 (now 3-6) in a season that began high hopes. But coach Kevin Higgins and staff deserve credit for holding their guys together, and for their game plans the last two weeks against Chattanooga and Samford.
Against Chattanooga, the Bulldogs jumped to leads of 17-7 and 24-14, but could not come up with the turnover or key first down to finish off the game. Against Samford, offensive coordinator Bob Bodine and staff tweaked the option with some speed sweeps on inside handoffs and shovel passes. The Citadel had three backs with at least 83 yards rushing and totaled 393 yards to Samford’s 353. And the Bulldogs forced two turnovers and got a key first down to run out the clock.
“When you are going against a defense that good, you’ve got to mix it up,” Higgins said. “With those three big linemen in the middle (of their defense), our goal was to stretch the field and get those big guys running. We did some things on the perimeter we had not done before, and we had a new trap play off the speed sweep, too.”
2. The Citadel’s win was greeted with huzzahs from at least three other teams around the league. Samford (6-3, 4-1) is now stuck in a traffic jam atop the league along with Chattanooga (7-2, 5-1) and Wofford (5-3, 4-1). Surprising Furman (4-5, 3-2) is just a game back after a 16-14 win over Georgia Southern (Eagles sure could use those 2 points now, eh?). The Mocs have it all in their hands with games against Wofford (Nov. 9) and at Samford (Nov. 16) still to play. Wofford has a tough row with at Chattanooga, App State and at Furman left. Samford finishes with at Furman, Chattanooga and Elon. Should be fun down the stretch.
3. A disappointing season that begins with high expectations can be rough on all involved — coaches, players, staffers — even reporters who have to follow the team’s ups and downs and examine the state and direction of the program. Alums get restless, message boards start to buzz, brass starts to feel the heat. This season has been no exception, made even more difficult by the fact that a proven coach (Kevin Higgins was 56-25-1 at Lehigh) is headed for his seventh losing season in nine at The Citadel, barring an epic upset of Clemson. But I have to say that Kevin Higgins has handled it all with equanimity, at least with me, never expressing frustration over anything written or said. Classy guy.