After a bye week, the Elon University football team is back on the gridiron for a homecoming tilt with The Citadel. Kickoff is set for 1:30 p.m. inside Rhodes Stadium Saturday, Nov. 9.
The Bulldogs will travel up from Charleston, S.C. with a chance to close their conference schedule at 4-4. Due to scheduling, this will be The Citadel’s final conference game, as they will face Virginia Military Institute (the battle of state military schools) and Clemson University to close the season.
A record of 4-4 is also an attainable goal for Elon. The Phoenix sits at 1-4 in league play with three contests to go, the first of which is against a Citadel team that has not won back-to-back games all year long. The Bulldogs defeated Samford 28-26 a week ago, so will the trend be bucked?
Elon Offensive X-factor: The second half
No key could be more glaring. On Sept. 21, Elon hosted Appalachian State University and scored two fourth-quarter touchdowns. Since that game, Elon has played five more games. Do you know how many second-half touchdowns have been scored in those five? None. That’s right. Elon has not found the end zone after the marching band’s performance since Sept. 21. Playing 30 minutes of quality offense will not win a 60-minute game. If Elon hopes to win Saturday, they must score in the second half.
The Citadel Offensive X-factor: QBs Ben Dupree and Aaron Miller and the passing game
Senior quarterback Ben Dupree is the anchor of The Citadel’s triple-option offense and has started every game this season. However, junior quarterback Aaron Miller is the Bulldogs’ leading passer, averaging 58.7 yards per game. Wofford College, the last triple-option team that Elon faced, used their almost nonexistent passing game to overcome a 17-point halftime deficit to bury the Phoenix. If The Citadel can exploit this weakness in Elon’s defense of the triple option, they can remain competitive and possibly pick up the win.
With The Citadel running a triple-option offense, it will be essential for the Phoenix’s linebacking corps to be able to shut down the multidirectional attack. All season long, Elon’s defense has been getting teams to third down, but has not been able to shut them down. A reason for this is that teams are getting a few yards at a time on Elon and subsequently controlling possession. If the middle of the Elon defense can effectively stop the Bulldogs, Elon will get The Citadel off the field and control the tempo themselves.
The Citadel Defensive X-factor: Defensive backs
The Bulldogs have allowed an average of exactly 200 yards per game through the air, which is not a huge number. Elon, on the other hand, passes for an average of 237.2 yards per game, so something has to give. The Citadel will need that strong play out of their defensive backs to dominate on defense and force Elon to run the ball, a concept the Phoenix has struggled with.
Two weeks ago, Elon was on the wrong side of history, losing to Western Carolina University and allowing the Catamounts to snap a 33-game losing streak against other Div. I schools. However, Elon has been on the cusp for the last several weeks. The Citadel is coming off of a big win and has not won back-to-back games all year. This one will be close, but the skid should end in front of a big homecoming crowd.
Elon 27, The Citadel 21