College Football Preview: The 2015 Charlotte 49ers
Charlotte 49ers Preview
2014 Record: 5-6 (FCS)
The CUSA welcomes Brad Lambert and the Charlotte 49ers who make the leap to the FBS in 2015.
Overview: The Charlotte 49ers are more of an unknown then anything but it’s accurate to say a team that finished 5-6 against FCS competition will struggle in the CUSA. The 49ers had scoring ability but opponents did as well so the goal is to be competitive as possible.
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Offense: Matt Johnson is healthy and penciled in as the starting quarterback after injuries derailed him in 2014. Johnson threw for 1,941 yards but was just at 52% on the year with 13 TD’s and eight INT’s. He finished as the second leading rusher with 411 yards and seven yard average with Kalif Phillips doing most of the heavy lifting on the ground (229-1436) with 6.3 yards per touch and 20 scores. Austin Duke caught 79 balls for 1,373 yards with Trent Bostick (33-365) checking in as the number two option so the receiving corps could use a few more targets. Five return on the offensive line so the 49ers have potential offensively.
Defense: The top six on the defensive line are back including Larry Ogunjobi, Mark Pettit and Tanner Fleming who combined for 25.5 TFL with the first two logging eight sacks between them. Of the 13 linebackers on the roster a season ago, eleven return with Dustin Crouser and Karrington King giving the team 5.5 TFL each. Nine players saw the field in at least ten games for the secondary and eight are back so the good news is there is experience in this group. The bad news is opponents passed the ball with ease and the defense never got off the field.
Special Teams: Hayden Pezzoni is penciled in for punting chores while Blake Brewer connected on 18-25 field goal attempts. Damarrell Alexander and Corey Nesmith are back to handle return duties with Charlotte sometimes splitting the return game chances with Chris Montgomery (KR) and Ardy Holmes (PR).
Outlook: Many compare Charlotte to Georgia State when the Panthers joined the FBS but the 49ers look like a better squad. Having said that anything more then a few wins would be a very good start to their FBS journey.