Game 8: What I’ll be looking for

by Oct 27, 2023Football

Photo credit: Sam Roberts, Freeze Frame

Charlotte looks to secure back-to-back wins for the first time this season as they host the Florida Atlantic University (FAU) Owls on Friday night at Jerry Richardson Stadium, in a contest that will be broadcast nationally on ESPN2. Charlotte is now 2-5 (1-2) after a 10-7 win over the East Carolina Pirates last week in Greenville. FAU heads to Charlotte with a 3-4 (2-1) record, and are fresh off a 36-10 drubbing in Boca Raton from the Roadrunners of UTSA. This series hasn’t been favorable to Charlotte yet, with a 2-6 record all time, and CLT is 0-4 at home in this one.

TV: ESPN2
Play by play: Anish Shroff
Analyst: Andre Ware
Sideline: Paul Carcaterra

Radio: Learfield/Charlotte Sport Network
Play by play: Matt Swierad
Analyst: Al Wallace
Sideline: Bobby Rosinski

What I’ll be watching

Momentum

Can Charlotte build off their most complete performance of the season? Charlotte’s offense did some things well, but still created issues with penalties and a turnover. If those can be cleaned up, alongside a strong defensive unit from Ryan Osborn, Charlotte’s schedule is favorable and we could see a late-season surge. Speaking of Osborn’s unit, they will face an offense that’s thrown 11 interceptions and allowed 14 sacks on the season, so it could be an opportunity for the defensive line to standout.

Special Teams

This unit had been solid for most of the year, but really struggled at ECU. A botched punt gave the Pirates the ball at Charlotte’s 10-yard line, which lead to their only touchdown of the contest. There was also what I’d call a turnover worthy play on the first punt of the game, where a Niner ran into his fellow teammate waiting to field the punt, CLT was fortunate this didn’t hit one of the two players and get recovered by ECU. There were two missed field goals, both from 45-yards or so, but the wind conditions were not favorable for these, and one followed the end of a quarter where Charlotte could have called a timeout and kicked with the wind at their back. Poggi touched on that during his weekly presser below.

Stone Handy

Number 11 appears to be emerging as a legit edge rushing threat to flank Eyabi Okie-Anoma. His burst off the line of scrimmage looks elite, he just needs consistency. I’m curious to see how he grows and continues to create havoc for Charlotte opponents. FAU throws it nearly 58% of the time vs FBS competition, so Handy and company will have ample opportunity to get to Daniel Richardson

Al-Ma’Hi Ali

After missing the first five games, Ali finally was cleared and saw the field versus Navy. His snap count nearly doubled versus ECU, and he’s someone the staff was extremely high on in the preseason, he’s an incredible athlete, and Charlotte needs all those they can get.

LaJohntay Wester (FAU)

Wester is clearly the Owls go to target in the passing game, he has 66 receptions while the second leading receiver only has 25. So, let’s keep an eye on #1 for FAU, and for how Charlotte looks to try and minimize him.

CLT Running Backs

With Shad Byrd getting the majority of touches, followed by Terron Kellman, I’m looking to see if this unit can get on track and help create some explosive plays. Last week Byrd didn’t cleanly catch two pitches on option plays, so that’s something to keep an eye on as well. I’d love to see Henry Rutledge get some more touches, especially in space.

Jack Hestera

While he came back from injury and played at ECU, he didn’t appear himself. Curious to see if he’s able to create more separation and be more active in the passing game tonight.

Clean it up

FAU creates 2 turnovers per game from their opponents in FBS play. The margin for error with Charlotte due to the offensive limitations so far is razor thin. They were able to escape Greeneville with a win despite multiple turnovers and that’s not sustainable. In addition to turnovers, CLT had too many penalties, it has to be cleaned up if Charlotte is looking to have a second-half surge.

Projections from the internet

via @statowar on Twitter

Once again, the Niners head into a contest as the underdog, and you can currently find CLT at +4 at multiple books, which is down from the +6.5 opening line. The SP+ by Bill Connelly on ESPN has FAU favored by score of 26-20, and gives CLT a 37% win probability.

Charlotte Football: Week 9 FAU Press Conference

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