Defense, defense, and more defense. Defensive Coordinator Ryan Osborn’s unit held the South Carolina State Bulldogs to 168 total yards. Quite the refreshing change of pace for 49er faithful. Clearly the opposition gets tougher next week, but the defense answered the bell in game one of the Biff Poggi era. Charlotte secured 3 sacks and 7 tackles for loss in this, along with an interception by true freshman Safety, Kameron Howard.
Now to the other side of the ball, things started out very slow on offense. After consecutive three-and-outs, their third possession resulted in an interception by the Bulldogs. On a third down play, Jalon Jones pitched it to an open Duane Thomas Jr., but the ball bounced of Thomas’ hands and into a SCSU player. The Niners defense would hold SCSU to a field goal, their only points of the game. The offense proceeded to get on track to for the next 3 possessions: touchdown (8 plays, 69 yards), touchdown (9 plays, 75 yards), and a field goal (11 plays, 55 yards).
The offense started slow again in the second half with 2 three-and-outs, before a 12 play drive that resulted in a missed 33-yard field goal. The next offensive possession gave Charlotte their only touchdown and points in the second half, with a 36-yard pass from Jalon Jones to tight end Bryce Kennon.
We heard a lot of talk about the defense, they shined. The 4th and goal in the third quarter was key, and they followed that up with another fourth down stop on the subsequent drive. Eyabi Okie looked dominant on the edge, the secondary had solid coverage all night, only allowing 1 explosive play.
The offense was a worrisome spot for many coming into tonight, and its fair to say, they didn’t dispel those fears. That said, Charlotte ran the ball extremely well, to the tune of 47 carries, 220 yards (4.7 yards per carry). That will be this teams style of play, but I feel that in the future we’re going to see the playbook open up a bit more than we saw tonight. I also expect to see more Jalon Jones on the ground. We saw glimpses of his explosiveness, it’s a dynamic component that Charlotte will undoubtedly lean on as the season goes on.
The game ball needs to go to Ryan Osborn. That was a defensive performance that Charlotte hasn’t experienced in quite some time.
Charlotte travels up to College Park, Maryland next week to take on the Terrapins on Saturday night in prime time on NBC (7:30pm ET kick). It’s a homecoming for Poggi and quite a few of the of his players, and a shot a redemption for returning players after the Terps handled Charlotte 56-21 at Jerry Richardson Stadium.