Game 9: What I’ll be looking for

by Nov 3, 2023Football

Photo credit: Charlotte Athletics

Charlotte (2-6, (1-3)) and Biff Poggi’s group of misfit toys heads into the matchup at Tulsa (3-5, (1-3)) looking for their 2nd AAC and FBS win of the season. The Golden Hurricanes have dropped three conference games in a row, allowing 43.7 points per contest over that stretch (40ppg for the season). This will likely be the worst defense Charlotte faces all year, but USF is currently allowing almost 36 points per contest. With Ivey and Jones both hurt and their availability unknown, the weekly press conference made it sound like Dom Shoffner will get the starting nod, but it sounds like Micah Bowens will be prepared for snaps as well.

Injuries to note for Charlotte

Dontae Balfour and Prince Bemah will be back, and it sounds positive regarding Wayne Jones coming back for this as well, but Poggi mentioned finding out more later in the week (after his weekly press conference). Shad Byrd will be out for this game, and Jonny King will be done for the rest of the season due to an injury sustained versus FAU.

What I’ll be looking for from Charlotte

Both teams feature head coaches that are in their first season, and both are clearly in rebuilding mode given the in-season performance. The struggles exuded by each team are contrasting, Charlotte is 131st in offensive output, while their defense is 130th in points allowed. Even with backup Quarterbacks in the fold for Charlotte, this is a favorable matchup to align to the “run the damn ball” philosophy.

Who’s out?

Suspensions were a big talking point due to how some players handled themselves during the FAU game. It’ll be interesting to see who all is not dressed out for this.

Quarterback play

How do Shoffner and Bowens look? I think Dom is more like Jones, a run-first type of QB. Bowens is more of a passer, but still an athletic QB with the ability to do damage with his legs. Conversely, Tulsa’s QB’s are solid on the ground and have the ability to cause issues there, especially on third down. How well does Charlotte slow them down?

Penalties

Does Charlotte clean them up? Charlotte’s averaging almost 8 penalties per game, 123rd in the country. I’ve talked about it for weeks; this team isn’t built to overcome those kinds of setbacks due to the offensive struggles so far this year.

Win the turnover battle

While Tulsa’s defense has been porous, Charlotte’s offense hasn’t shown the ability to consistently score points. Tulsa has thrown 15 interceptions, almost 2 per game, tied for last in the nation. Add in to this that Tulsa gives almost 3 sacks per games, Charlotte should have opportunities for the defense to help the offense in this one.

Given the noise around Charlotte’s program due to the suspensions and performance on national TV, they couldn’t ask for a better matchup. What remains to be seen is, are they healthy enough and prepared to respond with a win? We’ll find out tomorrow evening, 4pm ET kickoff, airing on ESPN+.

Projections from around the internet

via @statsowar on Twitter

Stop me if you’ve heard this before, but Charlotte is an underdog heading into this matchup. The line opened with Charlotte +2.5, but now has moved up and you can get them at +4. ESPN’s SP+ predicts Tulsa will win 30-20 and gives Charlotte a 28% chance to win.

Charlotte Football: Week 10 Tulsa Press Conference

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