Photo credit: Sam Roberts, Freeze Frame
Charlotte falls at home to Georgia State
First things first, let’s take a look at how Charlotte fared against what I said I’d be looking for in my pregame piece.
How’d Charlotte handle GSU’s rush attack?
The rush defense was great on Saturday night, holding the Panthers to 102 yards on 39 carries, good for a 2.6 yards per carry. The Panthers most explosive play on the ground was a 12-yard carry. Charlotte’s rush defense has graded out well, according to PFF. SCSU and GSU game grades for this rank better than any CLT defense performance since 2019.
Charlotte’s effectiveness on third downs?
The Niners went 3-14 on third down conversions against Georgia State. On average after the first 2 games, CLT was facing 7.875 yards to go on third down. Against Georgia State, the Niners saw this number increase to 9.3 yards. When looking at the average for the season, Charlotte is facing 8.4 yards to go on third down. That’s a big hill to climb, and a key indicator as to why the offense has struggled to consistently move the ball and create points.
Charlotte’s turnovers, do we have a trend?
Three games give you enough of a data set to create a trend, and unfortunately for Charlotte’s offense, that’s three-straight games with two turnovers. After 3 games, Charlotte is minus 3 in turnover differential.
While it’s easy to focus on the things that went wrong, here’s the good I saw on Saturday night at Jerry Richardson Stadium:
The potential is there for the redshirt sophomore, coming into this season he had thrown 19 passes at this level. He throws a solid ball and looks to be fairly accurate.
The 704-prospect returned a punt for a touchdown, the first ever in Charlotte’s history. He’s shifty and elusive, let’s see if he works his way into the RB rotation.
The graduate transfer from Maryland has stepped in and performed at a high-level on the defensive line, which is much needed with Jalar Holley’s season ending injury. Through three games, he’s Charlotte’s highest graded defender.
The Colorado transfer WR had a breakout performance, 7 catches for 109 yards and a TD. Let’s see if he emerges as WR1 option for the QBs.
Charlotte’s Student Section
The Goldmine is killing it, they’ve had fantastic turnouts for the first two homegames.
Watch Biff Poggi’s postgame presser in its entirety below
There are a ton of possible quotes to take away from this, pretty much everyone but the Special Teams unit gets called out during his opening remarks, but ultimately Biff says it’s on him. Here are a few highlights from his comments:
- The 4 sacks taken by Ivey are called out, but Biff mentions he makes better reads than Jones right now. Though Jones is more dynamic. The QB rotation is something I expect to see at Florida next weekend, there is no clear separation yet between the two.
- “I don’t know if I’m going to make changes to the offense, as far as the staff goes, I’m certainly going to look at it hard over the next two days”.
- Say’s we’ve morphed away from the style of offense he wants to see. Says if he has to go into the booth to call plays, he will.
- Defensively we were gashed, too many busted coverages. Backend played terrible.
- “I’m going to change my approach going forward, coaches are going to be graded much more strictly. And if you don’t like that, we’ll get you another home. But I’m not doing this anymore.”
- Laments offense for not being able to score 20 points.
- “I thought the offensive line was atrocious. I don’t know what techniques we’re teaching there, what I do know that we don’t come off the ball and knock people off the ball.” Highlights how tough Army and their personnel is in a win over UTSA.
- He’s going to tear it apart this week, come out with something that he likes. Will simplify scheme and playcalls moving forward.
- Charlotte’s defense was on the field for 70+ plays in each of the last 2 games. Biff states you can’t win with the defense on the field for that many snaps.
I’d rather go back to where everybody in the world knows what we’re going to run on offense and defense, but we can execute it, instead of trying to get too cute with so many shifts and motions and disguises on defense. We’re just not going to do that.Biff Poggi
Going into the Georgia State game, I felt it was our best opportunity, so far, at evaluating the new regime. The results were not there, and Coach Poggi postgame presser tells us he’s reassessing everything after the disappointing performance. Will it result in any actual staff changes? That remains to be seen, and truthfully, Charlotte we’ll be facing a much more talented team in the Florida Gators at almost every position. Billy Napier and his squad are fresh off of an upset victory over the #11 Tennessee Vols. I feel the best opportunity to fully evaluate the staff will be after the conference opener at SMU, which will be aired live on ESPNU with a 7:30pm ET kickoff on Saturday, September 30th.
Back to GSU, this game doesn’t fall into the “goofy plays” category (for those unaware, a prior head coach talked about losing because of those), but clearly you can isolate 2 plays that can easily change the overall dynamic of this game. The first being the 97-yard touchdown strike, Poggi stated we were in the correct defense after looking at the tape, but clearly the scheme was not executed on the backend. The second is the failed 4th and Goal conversion attempt from the 1-yard line with TE/FB Joey Bearns falling to the turf after catching the pass from Ivey. Replay shows that it looks like TE Jake Clemons was open in the endzone.
That’s a 14-point swing, and for an offense that has struggled thus far to create points, it puts immense pressure on both sides of the ball. Unfortunately, that pressure can have a butterfly effect, and players try to do too much, ultimately causing the team to appear out of sync, and I think that’s what happened on defense, and led to more explosive plays by Georgia State in the passing game.
There is clearly much to clean up, the looming trip to the swamp won’t make things easier on the Niners as they try to fix things on the fly. Charlotte’s currently 24-point underdogs and Florida’s confidence is sure to be at a high-level after last week.
A quick look ahead tells us Charlotte’s AAC opponents are a combined 11 (wins) and 13 (losses), certainly not a murders row of programs. While it will certainly be an uphill task, the stated goal from Biff Poggi is still out there, compete for AAC championships.
Listen to Niners Live on demand from yesterday now on The Varsity Network
We are not going to be a program that does not take advantage of a failure. So, there’s always something to learn out of a failure, and we’re going to learn this week what we failed on in the (last) game. Failure can do a couple of things, it can either break you or make you better. We’re working on it making us better.Biff Poggi