When looking at this game on the schedule back before the Covid-19 pandemic hit there may have been a little more excitement surrounding it. No, not because the Bulldogs were that much more of a threat then but because this was originally scheduled to be Clemson’s matchup for their annual Military Appreciation Day game.
Like Tiger fans, The Citadel fans weren’t even sure whether they would have a season about a month ago after the Southern Conference announced that they would push their football season to the spring. This left the Bulldogs without a fall schedule and little time to attempt to put one together.
The Citadel athletic department found a way to arrange a four-game fall schedule though. This schedule includes the maximum number of non conference games allowed under SoCon guidelines and it all started when they were able to secure this game against Clemson this Saturday, a game that was originally scheduled for November 14.
The Bulldogs will make $450,000 for their three and a half hour trip up to Tigertown for the 4pm game in Death Valley that will be televised on the ACC Network..
Things To Look For:
First, will be how the Tiger defense handles The Citadel’s flexbone, or triple option offense. This offense is not one that is seen every week and can trip up even the best up when it is run well. This offense will require the Clemson defensive players to play very disciplined football.
Especially since the Bulldogs are a veteran team led by fifth year senior quarterback Brandon Rainey, who led the Citadel offense with 900 yards on the ground last year and 17 scores. He also threw for 1,114 yards and another 13 touchdowns through the air. This past Saturday Rainey went 4 of 18 for 84 yards with one interception in the loss to South Florida, while carrying it 20 times for 65 yards on the ground.
Clemson used to spend a little time every camp working on the option since Georgia Tech was on the schedule every year. With them having scrapped the option, that probably isn’t the case anymore.
Another thing to watch for in this matchup will be the young offensive line. This should be a chance for them to get some more work on the running side of things. The Bulldogs 3-4 defense was able to get better as last season went along and actually held two of the top rushing offenses in the country below their averages. The Citadel also led the Southern Conference in rushing yards allowed per game last year.
That in no way means that the Citadel defense is ready to compete with a team the caliber of even a young Clemson offensive line at this point. USF ran all over them last weekend. At the same time though, this is a line that can use the snaps in live-game action to continue to become more and more in sync, to grow as a unit, and add more depth.
This is also one of those games that should give the Tiger coaching staff a chance to get a lot of backups in and get them experience on both insides of the ball. This is no knock on the Bulldogs, but head coach Dabo Swinney and crew will want to get every backup in that they can during this game and get them some game time.
The Bulldogs have had upset wins in the past, and Clemson is not immune to that possibility. The Tigers opened as 44 point favorites though and should take care of business early, getting the starters out as soon as possible to keep them healthy and develop depth.