After what was an unpleasant road trip to Atlanta for the 49ers, the team heads back home to face the Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders. Charlotte comes into the game with a 2-1 record, and hopes to be 3-1 before they hit the road again for two straight weeks.

“I think there was plenty of things for everybody to correct starting with me,” head coach Will Healy said in the team’s mid-week press conference in reference to the loss to Georgia State. “If I don’t do a great job myself, how can I expect our players to do it?”

The story around the Middle Tennesse program currently is the sudden loss of quarterback Bailey Hockman. He was benched at halftime of their last matchup against UTSA, and informed the team he would not be playing for them anymore. However, Healy says they have been preparing for Chase Cunnigham (Blue Raiders second-string QB).

“We thought Chase (Cunningham) was going to play the entire time,” Healy said. “When they moved on from Bailey (Hockman) in the first half against UTSA, they have done that before this year, so it is not a surprise.”

It does not take a genius to realize the team did not play to their capabilities last game against Georgia State. However, at the end of the day, the team is still 2-1 with a lot of talent. As Healy said after the game against Georgia State; it is all about how the team responds.

Players to watch

Chris Reynolds, Quarterback: This game will show how much of a fighter Chris Reynolds is. After what was a game played not to his standards, he will look to bounce back against Middle Tennessee. He had 158 yards passing on 13 completions. He finished with a 51.6 QBR in that game whereas he had a 66.3 QBR against Gardner-Webb and a 75.3 QBR against Duke.

Reynolds just may be poised for a big bounce-back game against Middle Tennessee. Safeties Reed Blankenship and Gregory Grate Jr. lead the Blue Raiders in tackles, which does not boast well for a team’s defense when your safties are racking up the most tackles. This is a Middle Tennessee team that can give up a handful of passing yards. They allowed 277 passing yards against UTSA last week in the loss. There are areas where Reynolds will have the opportunity to exploit the Blue Raiders defense, and it will be all about if he can find those opportunities.

Photo creditJaylynn Nash, USA Today

Taylor Thompson, Tight End: Thompson led the 49ers in receiving yards against Gardner-Webb a few weeks ago with three receptions for 50 yards. He had two grabs for 17 yards against Georgia State in a game where not much was happening through the air most of the game. He had his best reception of that game called back due to a holding penalty which would have been a big gain.

Maybe the team can incorporate Thompson in the offense a little more this week. Thompson has good quickness and size, and he is poised for a big game. Be on the lookout for number 11 come Friday night.

Prediction

The 49ers will shake off the rust they displayed against Georgia State and bounce back with a 35-21 win against the Blue Raiders. Chris Reynolds will get back to good form and have a great game, and the 49ers will pull away in the fourth quarter with a late touchdown reception by Taylor Thompson.

How to catch the action

Tune in this Friday, Sep. 24 at 6:30 p.m. on the CBS Sports Network to watch the game. It will be a fair-weathered night, so bring the family out to Jerry Richardson stadium to catch the game in person.

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