Charlotte seems like a school with high potential given the recruiting base, but since the 49ers began a program in 2013, they have yet to secure a winning record.
Will Healy is the new coach after engineering one of the most incredible turnarounds I’ve ever seen at FCS Austin Peay, which went 1-45 from 2013 to 2016. After just two years on the job Healy engineered an 8-1 record against FCS opponents in 2017, and he is looking to spurn the same sort of turnaround here at Charlotte.
A lot returns on both sides of the ball, and a 5-7 record last year, their best season at the FBS level, shows this team has some potential
RB Benny Lemay (5.4 YPA) was the motor of this offense last year. He returns along with his 1,243 yards and 11 touchdowns on the ground.
Charlotte has never been a pass-first team but they did throw a little more last year, and the top two QBs are back, most importantly Chris Reynolds (65%, six touchdowns, two interceptions). They also add a USF grad transfer in Brett Kean, who is the most mobile of the three and probably fits best with new OC Alex Atkins’ style.
Two of the top three receivers are back, Victor Tucker and Rico Arnold combined for over 1,000 yards last year and each brought in more than 13 yards per catch.
The offensive line is a little worrisome as there will be three new starters there, but I think this offense improves.
The new co-DCs are Brandon Cooper, who was the DC at Austin Peay under Healy, and Marcus West, formerly DL coach for Minnesota.
Some talent returns but the 49ers are switching to a 4-2-5 which could be a tough transition. DE Alex Highsmith (three sacks, 14.5! TFL), MLB Jeff Gemmell, and FS Ben DeLuca are the top returners at each level.
CB Nafees Lyon, who led the team in PBUs last year, also returns, and his dancing partner will be Tennessee grad tranfer Marquil Osborne. The 49ers will also add a former star recruit in former Penn State LB Brelin Faison-Walden.
I feel really good about this defense from a talent perspective but the change in scheme could be tough to deal with. Nonetheless, this should at the least be a good C-USA defense.
The schedule isn’t ideal, the 49ers get their three toughest opponents in conference play at home, meaning most of their winnable games will be on the road. They do get five sub-100/FCS teams, and there is enough talent on this team that, if the scheme change goes well, bowl eligibility is not out of the question.
|Date||Opponent||OPP. RANK||Proj. Margin|
|7-Sep||at Appalachian State||52||-16.6|
|19-Oct||at Western Kentucky||105||-7.5|
|30-Nov||at Old Dominion||115||-2.4|
Average Projected Record: 4.5 wins, 7.6 losses (2.6 wins, 5.4 losses)