The Charlotte 49ers had another convincing win as they defeated Massachusetts 52-17. The momentum they built up in the game will be much needed as the Niners face their toughest opponent in school history. Charlotte will be traveling on the road to take on the defending national champions and top-ranked Clemson Tigers this weekend. The high powered offense of the Charlotte 49ers led by Chris Reynolds and Benny LeMay will look to pull off a shocking upset against the dominant Clemson defense.
Charlotte 49ers players to watch
The Doak Walker Award nominee has been one of Charlotte’s strongest aspects of the team. His power and speed have helped build a strong running game this season. LeMay has averaged just over 7.6 yards per rush and has scored four rushing touchdowns on 46 carries this season. The power and speed combination that LeMay has can pose a threat to the Clemson defense that is loaded with talent. LeMay looks to repeat what he has done the past three weeks against the Clemson Tigers this weekend.
Highsmith has wreaked havoc on the defensive line this season. So far this season, Highsmith has recorded 16 total tackles (eight solos and eight assisted) and four sacks in three games. Highsmith, along with the rest of the defensive line, will look to put pressure on Trevor Lawerence as well as lockdown Travis Etienne.
Clemson Tigers players to watch
Higgins will pose a major threat to the Charlotte defense this weekend. His size can be an issue for defenders because he can win jump balls like he already has this season. Combine that with his speed and catching ability, then you have a receiver who can be extremely difficult to cover. The numbers definitely show. So far, Higgins has 318 yards and one touchdown on just 15 receptions
Simmons has been everywhere at the linebacker position. His quickness has made him a very important piece to the linebacker core as well as the defense as a whole. His ability to get to the quarterback has helped the pass rush as well. His presence could be an issue for the Charlotte 49er offense.
Keys to the Game
Get in tempo early
If the Charlotte offense can find a way to get in tempo early and get Chris Reynolds comfortable, they could give the Clemson defense some issues. When the 49ers run the quick tempo that they have ran previously, the offense could run much smoother. This tempo also tends to lead the points at the end of the drive. If the Niners can establish this quick tempo early, they could tire out this Clemson defense and keep the game close throughout.
Limit special teams mistakes
One of the issues in the Appalachian State game was special teams. They allowed a blocked punt and a kickoff return for a touchdown. This was still an issue last weekend against Massachusetts. Last weekend, the 49ers allowed a punt return for a touchdown. This is an aspect of the game that Charlotte needs to improve upon. If they can limit those mistakes, the Niners could have a chance in this game.
Pressure Trevor Lawerence
Up to this point, Trevor Lawerence has had a worse year statistically compared to last season. His accuracy has dropped and has been more turnover prone than the previous year. If Charlotte can get pressure on Lawerence and force some turnovers, the Niners could have a shot at pulling off the upset.
The 49ers and the Tigers face off this Saturday at 7:30 p.m. on the ACC Network.