Schedule Preview: The Citadel

North Carolina will open the 2009 football season by hosting The Citadel on Sept. 5 for a 6 p.m. kickoff under the lights at Kenan Stadium. The Football Championship Subdivision Bulldogs will arrive in Chapel Hill as heavy underdogs against the Tar Heels.

Overview: The Citadel enters the 2009 season hoping to avoid a repeat of last fall (4-8, 2-6 SoCon) and post a record north of the .500 mark. Fifth-year head coach Kevin Higgins returns crucial ingredients on the offensive side of the ball in quarterback Bart Blanchard (205-of-345 passing, 2436 yards, 19 TD, 11 INT), wide receiver Andre Roberts and First Team All-Southern Conference left tackle Daniel DeHaven – a trio that helped the military academy finish '08 ranked 44th nationally in the FCS division in scoring offense (27.3) and 49th in total offense (364.3 ypg) using a spread-option scheme. However, the Bulldogs must replace four of their top five receiving threats, as well as three offensive linemen and running back Asheton Jordan (711 yards, 5.0 yards per carry).

Higgins' defensive unit ranked 103rd in scoring defense (32.8) and 90th in total defense (389.4 ypg) last fall, but a portion of those numbers are due to youth, inexperience and a rough stretch of injuries. The Bulldogs return 10 starters, including All-SoCon performers Terrence Reese and Dewitt Jones on the defensive line. Where The Citadel will struggle against its FBS opponents is in the size department – Reese is the only lineman expected to start that checks in above 260 pounds and weakside linebacker Mel Capers boasts a 5-foot-9, 175-pound frame. The Bulldogs were unable to create many turnovers last season (15, 102nd nationally), partly due to an inability to pressure the quarterback (93rd in sacks, 111th in tackles for loss).

Player Most Likely To Make the Headlines: Andre Roberts If you're looking for a burner to excel in a spread offense, Roberts is your guy. The 5-foot-11, 185-pound senior wideout earned 2008 first-team All All-American honors after totaling 95 receptions for 1,334 yards and 14 touchdowns, and also led the nation in punt returns (19.2 ypr, 3 TD). The Columbia, S.C. native caught a school record 14 passes for 190 yards and three touchdowns against Wofford, but also showcased his talent against Clemson, grabbing nine catches for 153 yards and a touchdown at Death Valley.

Newcomer to Watch: Remember the name B.J. Phillips? The 6-foot-5, 260-pound Bulldog tight end opted to graduate early from North Carolina last fall, and will have two years of eligibility remaining. Former UNC head coach John Bunting recruited Phillips as a quarterback prospect, but Butch Davis moved the Columbia, S.C. native to tight end shortly after his arrival to Chapel Hill following the 2006 season.

Interesting Fact, Part I: The Citadel played two FBS opponents in 2008 (Clemson and Florida) and lost by a combined score of 115-36.

Interesting Fact, Part II: The Bulldogs have reached the FCS playoffs only three times in the program's history, and not since 1992.

Key Game: Furman on Oct. 24. The Citadel has lost five straight and eight of the last 10 contests in the Southern Conference's longest-running rivalry, including last season's 34-20 defeat. Furman leads the series, 55-30-3.

2009 Schedule
Sept. 6    @ North Carolina 
Sept. 19   @ Princeton
Sept. 26   Presbyterian
Oct. 3     Appalachian State
Oct. 10    @ Elon
Oct. 17    @ Western Carolina
Oct. 24    Furman
Oct. 31    Samford
Nov. 7     Wofford
Nov. 14    @ Chattanooga
Nov. 21    @ Georgia Southern  

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