Photo Credit: Daniel A. Varela, Miami Herald
As the Charlotte 49ers sit alone at the bottom of the C-USA standings, there is a slight glimmer of hope for the team as it is now homecoming, and they get to face a struggling FIU Panthers squad who has, in large part, been banged up this season. The 49ers come into the game as 14.5-point favorites which might be a little generous given the 49ers’ recent defensive struggles, but nonetheless, it should be a winnable game for the homecoming crowd.
Keys to a 49er victory
Establish the run game
I had the chance to chat with Eric Henry, the FIU beat writer for Underdog Dynasty this week and discussed how both of these teams are pass dominant given that both teams only have approximately 600-650 yards rushing. If Charlotte can establish a strong running game, then it will not only eat up time on the clock, but it will also force FIU into passing situations later in the game. This is where they thrive, but if the 49ers can get them with their backs against the wall, it makes a lot of routine passes harder.
This starts with Shadrick Bryd. Byrd played well in his last outing against UAB a week ago, and Charlotte will need these types of performances to continue for their premiere back.
No big plays for the FIU offense
For those that care to take a trip down memory lane to a short year ago, when the 49ers faced the Panthers, yes it was a 49er victory, but the Panthers put up 20 points in the fourth quarter. They have quick strike ability. Maybe not so much being that they are playing with their back up quarterback, but with a wide receiver like Tyrese Chambers, they can move the ball quickly.
Chambers is a game-time decision coming off an injury, but everything points to him playing come Saturday.
Control the controllables
You obviously can’t control when refs miss calls, but what you can control are senseless penalties, late hits out of bounds, clock management, etc.
There really isn’t much to “dig into” on this topic. The 49ers have to limit their penalties and play a clean, crisp game if they want to have success. If they can put their best game on the field come Saturday it should be a great 49er homecoming, but if they start making mental mistakes it might just be another loss in the loss column.
Prediction and gameday outlook
As I mentioned in the lead of the article, the 14.5-point spread was rather generous in my opinion given the struggles on defense for Charlotte. I have FIU covering, but Charlotte winning 42-35. Another game similar to last year’s 45-33 marathon. Expect a long game due to the reality that both of these teams are pass-heavy.
The forecast looks great for Saturday. Bring a light jacket, or just come to the Normbulance and Delta Sig tailgate prior to the game, and be sure to get warmed up.