Charlotte Football Season Has Been Hit Hard By COVID
2020 has not been easy for the Charlotte 49ers football team. Three of their six regular season games have been either canceled or postponed, including last weekend's home game against FIU. Despite losing to Appalachian State and FAU, the 49ers hammered North Texas 49-21 nearly two weeks ago. However, Charlotte will finally get the opportunity to play its first home game of the season, while El Pasoans will have that rare opportunity to wake up to breakfast with the Miners. UTEP and Charlotte will kick off Saturday at 10 a.m. with the game heard on 600 ESPN El Paso and televised on ESPN+. I strongly recommend you turn the sound down on the television broadcast and sync up Jon Teicher and Mike Perez to enjoy the best possible audio and video for the game.
When the 49ers have played, it has been a mixed bag. Appalachian State made life miserable for junior quarterback Chris Reynolds, who threw a pair of picks and he completed just 11-30 for 140 yards in that game. However, he bounced back for 314 yards against FAU and 290 yards and a pair of touchdown throws in the win over North Texas.
Reynolds spreads the ball around to five main targets (Victor Tucker, Micaleous Elder, Cameron Dollar, Tyler Ringwood, and Taylor Thompson), but none of them have stats that pop out at you. The 49ers offense also showcases a two-headed monster at running back with senior Tre Harbison III (46 carries, 187 yards, 3 TDs) and senior Aaron McAllister (22 carries, 171 yards, 1 TD).
The Miners defense will need to pic up where they left off to weeks ago in Ruston and pressure Reynolds while neutralizing the Charlotte run game. If you can believe it, UTEP is currently second in C-USA in yards allowed.
Defensively, Charlotte will line up in a 4-3 and UTEP head coach Dana Dimel told us on Thursday that they blitz 48% of the time. Junior linebacker Tyler Murray and senior defensive back Ben DeLuca are leading the team in tackles. The 49ers have not been able to get much of a pass rush through the first three games, with senior defensive end Romeo McKnight registering 1.5 of the team's 2 total sacks. Despite the lack of sacks, the 49ers have been successful putting their first three opponents in second and third and long situations.
The biggest issue defensively for Charlotte has been trying to replace linebacker Alex Highsmith, who was drafted by the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Miners will need a much better offensive showing than they had against Louisiana Tech if they will win their first conference game of the season. Charlotte is currently favored by 14.5 points over the Miners. Another fun subplot for this game will be that both teams will have pickaxes displayed on their helmets.
Will Healy is in his second season as head coach of Charlotte. The 35-year old was instrumental in turning around Austin Peay's football program and he 2017 Eddie Robinson National FCS Coach of the Year Award after breaking a 29-game losing streak at Peay and guiding them to an 8-4 season. In his first year in Charlotte, he led the 49ers to its first winning record and bowl bid.
On Monday, Coach Healy along with Reynolds and Murray met the media to talk about their preparation for the Miners.
The Charlotte video team put together a nice highlight package from their first win of the 2020 season.
If you have an extra 23-minutes of time, you can enjoy the condensed version of the most recent Charlotte game, a 49-21 win over North Texas. The Mean Green also happen to be UTEP's next opponent at the Sun Bowl on Halloween.