The college football regular season is coming to a close in 2017. Some teams will be continuing their season through bowl games or the College Football Playoffs. Teams that failed to win six or more games this year are officially done.
Charlotte football finished with a 1-11 record after a loss to Florida Atlantic University (9-3) to conclude their 2017 season. Although there were some bright spots, the program has their work cut out for them if they want to improve. The 49ers struggled on all sides of the ball which was the main factor for an underwhelming 2017 season.
The 49ers lone win this season came on Homecoming week against the bowl eligible UAB. After the Blazers went ahead 17-0 with 10:25 left in the third quarter, the 49ers scored 17 straight points to close out regulation.
Tied at 17, the game went into overtime and UAB was able to score the first touchdown and make the extra point. Charlotte then got the ball and Quarterback Hassan Klugh ran the ball in to the end zone to make the score 24-23. 49ers Head coach Brad Lambert opted to go for the two-point conversion for the final play of the game. Klugh caught a pass on a trick play in the end zone and the 49ers completed the comeback victory.
In terms of points for and points against, Charlotte ranked nearly dead last in the nation for both categories. The offense struggled due to a lack of identity. No true playmakers emerged and the team was unable to get points on the board.
Klugh struggled during his first full season as the starter. He posted 2,061 all purpose yards for the 49ers to go along with 19 total touchdowns. His problem was in the turnover area where he threw 13 interceptions.
Klugh was unable to develop chemistry with any of his receivers throughout the year. The 49ers top three receivers barely eclipsed 1,000 yards and only recorded 5 touchdowns. During the offseason, Klugh will need to work with his receivers for next season to develop rapport and be on the same page. This would likely increase the amount of touchdowns and decrease the amount of turnovers in 2018.
Sophomore running back Benny LeMay was a bright spot for the offense this season. LeMay finished with 820 all purpose yards and four total touchdowns in 2017. He was able to establish himself as the 49ers top option in the backfield and will look to improve on his solid performance from this season.
The 49ers defense was also a weak spot during 2017. The defense failed to perform at a high level, especially when playing without senior Karrington King towards the end of the year. The defensive stats this season showed that the need to force more turnovers and uncomfortable situations for opposing offenses is a must.
Charlotte was able to force only 11 sacks combined and record 11 takeaways. This allowed for opposing offenses to have more time with the ball throughout games and more opportunities to score. The 49ers will look to recruit some defensive playmakers for any position because they will need to record stats in order to be competitive in Conference USA.
King was the heart of the 49ers defense and after starting out his career as a walk on, he earned himself a scholarship. As a departing senior, Charlotte will need to find another player to emerge as a leader on the defense. King’s presence will be missed by the 49ers in the upcoming season.
Charlotte also had their struggles on special teams. The 49ers kicking unit comprised of Nigel Macauley, Jackson Vansickle, and Kyle Corbett had a poor season. Overall, the group finished with four field goals made out of 11 attempts. The need for a solid primary kicker is necessary for the 49ers going ahead in the future.
No kicker was able to make a field goal from 40 yards or farther on the season. This led to more 4th down attempts for the offense in situations they could have otherwise been able to record three points on. Kicker can sometimes be an under appreciated position in football but the 49ers were lacking in their kicking game in 2017.
To put it all in perspective, the 49ers football program is still in its infancy and has a long way to go. This was their third season competing in FBS of Division 1 football. As the program continues to develop, the team will start to click in the future and begin to build a name for itself. There were various low points to the 2017 season, but the 49ers can use these to their advantage to help prepare for success in the near future.