Photo credit: Charlotte Football
Niners look to rein in the Pony Express
In October 2021 Charlotte, along with UAB, North Texas, FAU, UTSA, and Rice, were announced to be joining the American Athletic Conference. Fast-forward almost two years, a coaching change for the program, and a program-wide athletics facilities master vision, and Charlotte is finally stepping on the field for their first AAC football contest.
Gerald J. Ford Stadium (Dallas, TX)
Saturday, September 30th at 7:30pm ET
Play-by-play: John Schriffen
Analyst: Rocky Boiman
Sideline: Dawn Davenport
Learfield/Charlotte Sports Network
Play-by-play: Matt Swierad
Analyst: Al Wallace
Sideline: Bobby Rosinski
Charlotte concluded non-conference play with a 1-3 record, winning their first contest over South Carolina State University, then losing to Maryland, Georgia State, and Florida. SMU has won both home games so far, versus Louisiana Tech and Prairie View A&M. Their two losses have been at Oklahoma and at TCU.
Projections from the Internet
via @statsowar on Twitter
The oddsmakers again have Charlotte as a heavy road underdog, with most books having Charlotte at +22.5. The current O/U is 53.5, with a +1000 moneyline for Charlotte.
What I’ll be looking for from Charlotte
Offensive line performance
After Trexler Ivey struggled in Gainsville and Jones took over all the reps, will that continue in Dallas? Coach Poggi addressed that in the weekly presser linked below. Most will look at the QB spot as the biggest spot to see what happens, and I get that, it’s the most prominent position. That said, I’m more interested, and concerned, about Charlotte’s offensive line at this point into the season. They’ve struggled to generate a consistent push off the ball in the run game (3.7 yards per carry this year) or hold up in pass protection, allowing 13 sacks to-date.
Signs of life from the offense, and ultimately, points. Biff Poggi stated that touted freshman running back Durell Robinson did not make the trip to Florida to let him get healthy. Does he get a heavy dose of carries? Do we continue to see more of Henry Rutledge? He’s provided explosive plays on offense and via special teams over the past two games. Is Jairius Mack healthy now and back? What about a full dose of Jaden Bradely? Unfortunately, after four games, there are many unknowns on this side of the ball.
Mining for Greatness, Charlotte Football’s series on ESPN+, this week had a clip from Eyabi Okie-Anoma where he comments that Coaches Poggi and Osborn challenged him. He matched that challenge in Gainesville, and for Charlotte’s defense to sustain the level of play they showcased in the Sunshine State, he’ll need to be a consistent force off the edge.
Charlotte’s defense created two turnovers versus the Gators, a fumble forced on a sack by Eyabi Okie-Anoma, and Dontae Balfour striped a Gator wide receiver after a completion over the middle. SMU’s QB, Preston Stone has a 58.4% completion rate, lower than both Jones and Ivey, though the Mustangs has attempted almost 40 more passes. Stone has thrown 4 interceptions and has been sacked 13 times. Charlotte will need the defense to help shorten the field and create turnovers while the offense works to get on track.
Charlotte Football: Week 5 SMU Press Conference
- SMU one of the favorites to win the league.
- Didn’t like the slow start at Florida, and mentions they have a habit of doing that. The team was down 10-0, quickly. Working to start practices “fast”.
- “What I’m happy about, we never quit, we do not quit at anything” – Biff Poggi.
- mentions the redzone stands, and 4th down stops.
- Wants to incorporate tight ends in downfield passing more.
- We have to stop making mistakes, they took away 2 opportunities for us. Stressed they were the correct calls by the officials.
- Special teams have been great to date, we’ve faced some elite returners and limited them.
- No starter cemented at Quarterback, both guys (Jones and Ivey) are going to play.
- “The depth chart is agnostic, there is no favoritism.” – Talks about how Clowney will now be starting opposite of Eyabi Okie-Anoma. Biff mentioned that both played the best games of their career.
- Coach reiterated that there are no moral victories.
- 24-hour rule to think about the game that just happened, then you have to move on, regardless of the outcome.
- “What we did at Florida is something to build on, but that’s over” – Biff Poggi
- Terron Kellman and Durell Robinson are healthy.
- Jalar Holley and Panda Askew are having surgery and done for the season.
You can also listen to Niners Live on demand here: The Varsity Network where Coach Poggi, Al Wallace and Matt Swierad get you ready for SMU after recapping the Florida game.