No secret here, Charlotte front 7 have to stop/limit Duke running back Mataeo Durant. Last season Durant tallied 817 yards, with 104 of those coming versus CLT on just 12 carries (2 for TDs). Durant was named to the 2021 preseason ALL-ACC football team. I’ll be keeping an eye on the interior defensive line to see how transfer Joshua Bailey (Iowa State) helps, as well as Jalar Holley (University of Miami transfer that is still waiting to be cleared), perform help here.
Special teams. Charlotte would not have won last years contest if special teams were cleaned up, but it would have seemed much more competitive. We’ll see what new Special Teams Coordinator Nick Hancock has done with this group. This is always an area that Duke does well in. Worth monitoring, Charlotte has a true freshman punter in Bailey Rice, who has never played in a American football game. Rice does have 4 years of experience in Austrailian League Football.
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Chris Reynolds has quite a bit of talent on perimeter to get the ball to, but the offensive line has to give him some time. Last year Duke tallied 5 sacks in Durham, can Charlotte keep Reynolds upright in this one? I’ll specifically be keeping an eye how Reynolds is used, with him being at full-strength now, will Offensive Coordinator Mark Carney leverage his legs more via rollouts and RPO’s? When Reynolds is at his best, he’s a threat on the ground.
Charlotte’s defense last year recorded 1 sack and 2 tackles for loss, but no additional QB hurries. The defense will have to find a way to get into the backfield and keep Duke QB Gunnar Holmberg from staying in rhythm. We know when healthy, Markees Watts is skilled at bringing down the QB, but who else is going to help establish the rush?