Archer: "The Down Guys Are Very Important"

RALEIGH, N.C. -- Defensive coordinator Mike Archer has coached a lot against the triple-option, wishbone attack that The Citadel is using to steamroll opponents this season.

Defensive coordinator Mike Archer has coached a lot against the triple-option, wishbone attack that The Citadel is using to steamroll opponents this season.

State has played Georgia Tech the past two seasons, and the Yellow Jackets, under head coach Paul Johnson, also run the triple-option on offense. The Pack has had mixed success against Tech, winning in Atlanta two years ago but losing last season by double-digits in Raleigh.

For Archer, it's simple. His defensive tackles will initiate everything defensively for the Wolfpack on Saturday.

"The down guys are very important," said Archer. "The linebackers should make a lot of tackles against the wishbone. Two years ago at Georgia Tech, Nate [Irving] had 20 tackles. Our tackles, J.R. Sweezy, Natanu [Mageo], and Markus Kuhn did a great job of protecting Nate. He flew around.

"Last year against Georgia Tech our safeties and our corners were our leading tacklers. It's an indication that we didn't do a great job. Saturday night the key is going to be if our linebackers are making tackles... [if so,] we will have a chance at success. If not, it could be a long night."

The Citadel hasn't just beat their first three opponents to rise up the FCS rankings, the Bulldogs have steamrolled them. The Citadel is averaging 463 yards of total offense and is coming off a 52-28 win at App. State where they rolled up 618 yards of total offense, including 463 on the ground.

State is going to counter with an active defensive front that has used multiple combinations in the first three wins. Extremely deep, the Pack has played 10+ linemen in games this year and added another recently in defensive tackle A.J. Ferguson to the mix who played 19 snaps against South Alabama, totaling two tackles and a sack. Ferguson didn't play in the first two games of the season. "We'll continue to do the same thing," Archer said, in terms of rotating linemen. "Getting A.J. back last week was important. He brings another body in there.

"You've got T.Y. [McGill], you've got Thomas [Teal]... we work McKay [Frandsen] in there because McKay can play both end and tackle. We'll play both five tackles and five ends as the season goes on."

What makes State even deeper up front is the versatility of their defensive linemen. Ends Darryl Cato-Bishop, McKay Frandsen, Forrest West, and Brian Slay can all play both on the edge or inside at tackle. That versatility might not be a factor against a team like The Citadel who runs the ball so much, but when the Pack squares off against high-powered passing attacks like Clemson, Florida State, and North Carolina it will be critical.

As Archer points out, it's all about creating mismatches and one-on-one opportunities up front and so far six defensive linemen have already recorded sacks for State this season.

"With football like it is now, everything is spread, everything is throw the football so you've got to get your best one-on-one pass rushers in there," said Archer. "What we've tried to do in some of our sub packages is get Brian Slay and Forrest [West] inside with Art [Norman] and [Darryl] Cato-Bishop outside.

"Now [the other teams] have to make a decision. Who are they going to slide to? Who are they going to double? We're forcing one-on-ones. We're going to force the backs to block somebody."

"By having Forrest and Brian in there, we feel like they are two pretty good pass rushers," he added. "Nothing against Thomas or T.Y., but they are more push guys. They are going to push the pocket. We're just trying to get our best guys on the field."

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