Early Look at The Citadel

Coming off an emotional setback to Alabama, the Tigers have to pick up the pieces and move on.

HEAD COACH: Kevin Higgins (17-17 at The Citadel, 73-42-1 overall)

STARTERS RETURNING: 11 (5- offense, 6- defense)

LAST WEEK: The Citadel 54 Weber International 7

LAST MEETING WITH CLEMSON: Clemson 38 The Citadel 0 (Sept. 2, 2000)

KEY PLAYERS RETURNING: QB Bart Blanchard (6-2,185), WR Andre Roberts (5-11,170), S Jonathan Vest (5-10,185), CB Cortez Allen (6-2,175), LB Jordan Gilmore (5-11,215)

The Citadel travels to Death Valley Saturday for the first time since 2000. It will be the first in-state FBS opponent for the Bulldogs in eight years and just the second time since 1990 the Bulldogs have faced either the Tigers or Gamecocks.

While the Bulldogs are an FCS (formerly D-IAA) team, don't be fooled. This team was tied on the road 21-21 at No. 7 Wisconsin at halftime last season and everyone remembers what Southern Conference power Appalachian State did at Michigan earlier in the year as well.

With head coach Kevin Higgins now in his fourth season, this game could be more difficult than most fans realize- especially with Clemson coming off an emotional loss to Alabama.

Making matters more complicated is the fact the Bulldogs are inching closer towards becoming one of the top teams in the Southern Conference. Last year, Higgins led his team to a 7-4 overall record and 4-3 in the league; marking the first time since 1992 the Cadets recorded seven wins in a season.

In fact, just five points separated the Bulldogs from winning a share of the Southern Conference championship with Appalachian State and Wofford last season. A 21-17 loss to Georgia Southern on Oct. 27, after The Citadel was leading 17-6 going into the fourth quarter proved to be the difference in competing for a national championship in the playoffs and sitting at home waiting for next season to start.

Offensively, the Bulldogs run the spread option and are led by All-American wide out Andre Roberts and QB Bart Blanchard.

Blanchard ended the 2007 season by completing 58-of-91 passes (64 percent) for 824 yards and seven touchdowns to go along with just one interception.

Meanwhile Roberts is one of the top returning receivers in the FCS this year after bringing in 78 catches for 1,060 yards and 10 touchdowns.

Defensively expect to see multiple looks, including a base 4-3 scheme but also some 3-4 which was instituted on the practices fields in Charleston this spring to help limit some of the explosive option offenses in the Southern Conference.

While a handful of last year's key players for the Bulldogs have moved on, enough experienced talent remains to make this team as dangerous as ever.

The Citadel opened its 2008 season by defeating Weber International, 54-7 this past Saturday at Johnson Hagood Stadium in Charleston. Blanchard completed 12-of-14 passes for 137 yards and two touchdowns while Roberts led the way receiving with three catches for 91 yards and two scores and also added another 64-yard touchdown on a punt return.

Defensively The Citadel held Webber International to 199 yards total yards, including 121 passing and 78 on the ground.

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