The Citadel began preparations for defending back-to-back Southern Conference championships opening camp on Thursday morning with the first practice of the 2017 season. The Bulldogs broke in the new turf on their practice field with a two-hour workout in unseasonably cool temperatures for August in the Lowcounty.
Second-year Head Coach Brent Thompson addressed the media before and assessed his team's opening practice effort immediately following camp's first repetitions.
"I thought we went out there and did what we had to do to start camp," Thompson said. "We have some young guys in certain spots, so they'll have to catch up on what we do and be ready to play come September. The weather cooperated and made things a little easier. All-in-all, it was a very productive first day, but it's just day one and we've got to get better, which we'll do through repetition.
The Bulldogs will practice Friday and Saturday morning, then again on Sunday night, before donning full pads for the first time on Monday. With right at a month left to go before the opener against Newberry on Sept. 2, the mode is mostly teaching for Thompson and staff before tackling becomes part of practice early next week.
"We've got to try and get as much of our playbook as possible," Thompson said. "Blocking schemes, defensive schemes, blitzes all before we start worrying about the contact and physical nature of the way we play."
The Bulldogs open the season on Sept. 2 against Newberry and, off a perfect 8-0 season in SoCon play and consecutive league titles, are one of the favorites in the league when conference play starts in mid-September. Senior quarterback Dominique Allenis ready to put all the preseason work behind him and begin honing in on what has made the Bulldogs so successful the last two seasons.
"It's been a great couple of years," Allen reflected briefly before practice. "Finally, it's around that time where everyone is focused on football now. The workouts have stopped, (summer) classes are over. We can get focused on our craft and it gives us the chance to perfect it."