2. KEYS TO THE SEASON
Biggest Key To The Charlotte Offense
The offensive line has to be a whole lot stronger. That might be a bit of an issue with three starters gone and C Jaelin Fisher a bit undersized. It did a nice job last year paving the way for Benny LeMay’s big rushing season, but it struggled way too much in pass protection and didn’t do enough to keep defenses out of the backfield. Opponents came up with 92 tackles for loss and 38 sacks last season – that’s way too much. And on the flip side …
Biggest Key To The Charlotte Defense
Hit a quarterback now and then. The 49ers have the pass rushers in Alex Highsmith and Tyriq Harris, and the linebackers have the quickness to get into the backfield on a regular basis. Now it all has to all work after coming up with just 19 sacks and 63 tackles for loss. It was a big improvement from 2017, but it still wasn’t enough.
How did new head coach Will Healy’s Austin Peay defense do last year? It was great at getting behind the line, but there weren’t enough sacks.
Key Player To A Successful Season
QB Chris Reynolds, Soph.
Or senior Evan Shirreffs. The running game will be okay with Benny LeMay, but the passing attack has to be sharper and more consistent after failing to complete 60% of its passes with 2,166 yards and ten touchdowns with eight picks. The downfield throws weren’t there, and the offense sputtered too much after Reynolds was knocked out with an ankle injury.
When he was healthy, he hit 63% or more of his passes in five of his size games, threw six touchdowns and was picked off twice. If he adds a real, live passing dimension to the attack, or if Shirreffs can rise up and rock, the 49ers should have a winning season.
Key Game To The Charlotte Season
Florida Atlantic, Sept. 28
Charlotte should be 2-2 – at worst – going into the Conference USA season. It managed to beat Florida Atlantic to close out last season – keeping the Owls from becoming bowl eligible – and now it’s a chance to make a big early statement.
With a week off to follow, and with a brutal run coming up, beating FAU could be a must to get to six wins and a bowl game.
– Charlotte Schedule Breakdown & Analysis
2018 Charlotte Fun Stats
– Time of Possession: Charlotte 34:59 – Opponents 25:01
– Sacks: Opponents 38 for 276 yards – Charlotte 19 for 135 yards
– Rushing Yards Per Game: Charlotte 162.6 – Opponents 105.7