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UNC vs The Citadel: Players to Watch

The Citadel’s triple option will test the Tar Heels

Georgia Tech v North Carolina
Cole Holcomb #36 and Andre Smith #10
Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images

The North Carolina Tar Heels had extra time to prepare for The Citadel after last week’s Thursday night loss to Duke. This game has all the makings for a “trap game,” as the FCS Citadel Bulldogs are sandwiched between two rivalry games. UNC cannot take this undefeated team lightly this Saturday in Chapel Hill. After last week’s performance, both the offense and defense need to make adjustments to return to a competitive level. Without doing so, the Tar Heels could see a major surprise Saturday at Kenan, and will be limping into a matchup against NC State.

The Citadel Player to Watch: Quarterback Dominique Allen

The Citadel makes its living by rushing the ball, and this does not bode well for the worst rushing defense in the ACC. Duke quarterback Daniel Jones sliced up the Carolina defense last week through the air and on the ground. This week, another dual-threat quarterback will be under center for the Bulldogs.

The Citadel leads the FCS in rushing offense. The team has rushed for 3,599 yards in ten games and has scored 31 rushing touchdowns. Citadel quarterback Dominique Allen has rushed for 558 yards this year and leads the team with seven rushing touchdowns. He is second on the team in rushing attempts, so he gets plenty of opportunities to run the ball in their triple option offense. But do not over look his arm. Last week against VMI, Allen threw for a career high 133 yards.

Georgia Tech’s triple option offense ran for 374 yards against the Tar Heels a couple weeks ago in Kenan. That week, the defense and special teams came up with timely plays while the offense took care of business on their side of the ball. The Citadel’s triple option will be another challenge for UNC, especially after a week where the quarterback containment was nonexistent.

North Carolina Player to Watch: Linebacker Andre Smith

As mentioned in the positional grades from the Duke game, Andre Smith did not have his typical game against the Blue Devils. Smith will need to be a leader on defense against the run-heavy Citadel offense.

Positional discipline is vital against a triple option offense. The front seven on defense must be cognizant of their assignments and must not overreact. With the Bulldogs, Allen is more than just the manager of the offense; he is a dangerous weapon that will burn the defense if they focus too much on B-back Tyler Renew.

The defensive line must stay in their gaps and not get pushed off the ball. The corners must keep the ball from going outside. If these occur, then containment of the quarterback and reacting to the ball, rather than player movements, falls with the linebacker corps. This Citadel offense is the test that the UNC defense needs right now. If they are up to the challenge, Smith and the defense will gain valuable experience in their weakest area before another rivalry game and any postseason action.

Tar Heel fans: Let us know who you will be watching this Saturday.