The Charlotte 49ers (2-2) will look to bounce back this Friday, Oct. 2, against the Temple Owls (3-0) under the lights. In front of a sold out Jerry Richardson Stadium, the 49ers defense rebounded against Florida Atlantic, forcing five turnovers. But Charlotte could not play a complete game as the offense turned the ball over seven times, and ultimately losing to Florida Atlantic 17-7.
The Charlotte defense lead the charge Saturday. After a rough showing against Middle Tennessee, the 49ers defense only gave up 205 total yards and scored the lone touchdown. Tank Norman’s pick-six nearly sparked a comeback, but offensive troubles plagued Charlotte all game. Head Coach Brad Lambert commented on the defensive effort.
“I was really proud of them because they bounced back after last week. I thought they refocused on what they had to do.”
Charlotte made another change at Quarterback last week, but the results were the same. Junior Lee McNeill made his first start, but finished with four interceptions. Charlotte gave fellow junior Matt Johnson an opportunity, but two of three passes were interceptions.
Coach Lambert commented on the recent performances from the Charlotte Quarterbacks.
“It’s not very good. We’ve got to continue to get better there and take care of the ball. Part of that was the weather, but we’ve got to value the ball better. It’s amazing we had a shot to win the game at the end.”
A bright spot for the 49ers offense would be the play of running back Kalif Phillips, finishing with 165 rushing yards. Phillips running would provide more than half of the total yards for Charlotte Saturday night.
Charlotte will have a lot to prepare for on a short week against a talented Temple squad. The Owls are undefeated this year, including wins against Penn State and Cincinnati. Phillips and the rest of the 49er squad will have less running room, as Temple ranks 12th in the nation against the run. As for the Temple offense, they are well-balanced, ranking in the middle of the pack in passing and rushing in the nation.
Some keys to the game for Charlotte would be protecting the ball and continuing the defensive momentum created from the Florida Atlantic game. If Charlotte continues to turn the ball over five times a game, then victories will be few and far in between. Charlotte currently has the third worst turnover margin in the nation. Perhaps keeping the ball on the ground would help the Charlotte offense maintain possession. Charlotte must rely on the defense to carry until the offense finds their rhythm. The Niners allowed a yard per rush attempt against Florida Atlantic last week. Also, the 49ers found success in Florida Atlantic’s backfield, generating three sacks and nine tackles for loss.
After a strong start to the season, Charlotte has hit a rough patch in their schedule, dropping the last two games. The 49ers must find stability at the Quarterback position if Coach Lambert wants to continue the progression of the young football program. Jerry Richardson Stadium is sure to repeat another great environment as Charlotte plays its first game under the lights on Friday.