Jeff Gemmell celebrates after a turnover. Photo credit: Chris Crews

After losing last week to Western Kentucky 45-14, the Niners are back home in Charlotte to take on the UAB Blazers. For Charlotte, it’s Homecoming Weekend, and they would love nothing more than to score their first win of the season. This game will give Charlotte one more chance to gain some momentum before their bye week next Saturday.

Scouting the Blazers

The high-scoring Blazers come into Saturday’s matchup with a record of 4-2, and they’re coming off two straight wins. Their conference record stands at 2-1, as they beat Louisiana Tech and Middle Tennessee after losing to North Texas in their conference opener. UAB comes into the contest averaging 31.7 points, and that’s largely due to the play of quarterback AJ Erdely.

Erdely, a redshirt junior, is a dual threat quarterback like Charlotte’s Hasaan Klugh. Erdely has gone 87-157 for 1,105 yards and seven passing touchdowns this season, and he’s also rushed for 201 yards and seven touchdowns. Meanwhile, receiver Andre Wilson has been his favorite target. Wilson has 24 receptions for 402 yards and four touchdowns this year, while Collin Lisa follows with 15 receptions for 265 yards. Ronnie Turner Jr has 16 catches for 138 yards, while Sederian Copeland has nine receptions for 111 yards and two scores. Tailback Spencer Brown is the other big playmaker for UAB, as the true freshman has 629 yards and six touchdowns so far this season.

UAB’s defense has made its presence felt on the field as well. Despite the team surrendering an average of 28.7 points a game, the defense has come up with timely stops when needed. Against LA Tech, defensive lineman Stacy Keely blocked a field goal that sealed the game for the Blazers. Numbers-wise, Broderick Thomas leads the squad with 51 total tackles, followed by Tevin Crews’ 48 tackles. Crews also has seven tackles for loss, which is second on the team. Fitzgerald Moror has 36 tackles, and Shaq Jones has 33 total tackles. Expect these playmakers to be flying around to the ball on Saturday.

Niner Needs

What Charlotte needs most is a win. The team is now 0-7, and now would be the perfect time to score a win. Last week, the team lost 45-14 to WKU as injuries to key players continued to mount. Leading tackler Karrington King was hurt in the second quarter to a leg injury, Klugh sat out due to an illness, and tailback Benny LeMay also sat out due to concussion protocol. Other players stepped into the forefront, but their youthfulness showed as the team struggled in the second half.

Despite sitting out last week, Klugh and LeMay have been the bright spots in a tough season for Charlotte. Klugh has passed for 788 yards and five touchdowns while also rushing for 301 yards and five more scores. LeMay has 488 rushing yards and one touchdown reception thus far; he has 625 yards for his career and only needs 375 more to reach 1,000. Barring injury, he should be able to eclipse the 1,000 yard mark if he continues at his current pace.

Ben DeLuca and the linebackers have stepped up for the Niners. After recording a school-FBS record 17 tackles against Marshall, DeLuca had 10 more tackles last game. Meanwhile, Juwan Foggie (47 tackles), Jeff Gemmell (47) and Harris (28) have continued to pace the tackling for Charlotte. DeLuca, Gemmell and Harris have all forced at least one fumble and increased the turnover margin.

For the receivers, Workpeh Kofa continues to impress and will look to add onto his totals. The redshirt junior has 19 catches for 265 yards and a score, and Mark Quattlebaum has 17 catches for 167 yards. Those two, along with Trent Bostick (12 receptions, 128 yards) have been Klugh’s top targets this year and will need to have big games in order for Charlotte to have a chance. Senior TL Ford II is only three reception yards shy of 1,000 for his career as well, so the offense should look to get all four playmakers involved.

Overall, the defense must have a big game and outperform the UAB defense. UAB scores early and often, so it will be paramount for the linebackers to continue leading this young core. Kofa said it best: “We need to attack [teams] more, definitely.” The team is desperate for a win, and is hoping that the homecoming spirit will stir up the fans to cheer on behind them. The stage is set, and the game versus the Blazers will kickoff at 6:30 p.m. and can be seen on beIN Sports TV.

Zach Timmons, better known as ZT, is a junior at UNC Charlotte. He is an English major and is also minoring in journalism. In his free time, ZT enjoys writing spoken word poetry, drawing, and making beats.