Duke was historic, but it's in the rear-view now.

Beating Duke this past Friday night was a pivotal moment in the building of our program, however if we come out vs Gardner-Webb (GW) and lay an egg, we erase the growth. Charlotte needs to come out with the same sense of urgency and establish things early, and often. GW comes into this 0-1 after dropping a close one in Statesboro, GA to Georgia Southern (GSU). GW had the ball in GSU territory with less than 1 minute today before turning it over on downs and losing 30-25.

Charlotte is 2-1 all-time versus GW, including a 2-0 mark at Jerry Richardson Stadium. In fact, Will Healy’s debut game against GW on August 29th, 2019 in a 49-28 win.

If you have free time on your hands...

You can watch Gardner-Webb’s opener on ESPN3 at the link below.

What I’ll be looking for on Saturday

Key 1

Duke gashed us on the ground with Mateo Durant and company to the tune of 352 yards on 44 attempts (8 yards per attempt). GW struggled on the ground vs GSU, netting 62 yards on 19 attempts. Something here will have to give. Charlotte will not have Jalar Holley for this one, according to Coach Healy on today’s press conference. Will Charlotte’s front 7 better manage the line of scrimmage and do a better job limiting the Running Bulldogs on the ground?

Key 2

Charlotte carried the ball 40 times against Duke for a total of 154 yards, with 40 of those coming from a single Calvin Camp carry. It’s no secret that under Will Healy the team wants to establish the run and feed off of that. GW gave up 365 yards to GSU’s triple-option attack on 65 carries. Will Charlotte’s offensive line establish a consistent push and allow the offense to dominate on the ground in this one like GSU did? I’ll also keep an eye on who is getting the carries for CLT, for the Duke game the were pretty event distributed between Camp, Byrd and Mceachern. It’ll likely remain that way until someone starts outperforming the others in the room.

Key 3

GW put the ball in the air 45 times against GSU, and they aren’t afraid of tempo. As we saw on Friday night, when Duke went with tempo, it hurt our defense. That, coupled with some injuries in our secondary, could give GW a soft-spot to attack. Healy did mention that better on-field communication was an area that the defense needs to work on to help perform better. Speaking of injuries, we had 3 starters in the secondary get dinged up: Geo Howard is questionable, Tank Robinson is doubtful, and we haven’t heard any update on Trey Creamer. Next man up in the secondary for this one.

Key 4

Generally a separator in the FCS/FBS matchups can be special teams. Charlotte did not return a punt vs Duke and only averaged 16.5 yards per kickoff returns (both by Shadrick Byrd). I’d love to see Charlotte exert their depth and team speed in the return game to spring a big play or 2 in this one. On the otherhand, GW did a great job limiting GSU in the return game. Let’s see what Tyler Hancock’s group can do in this one. Worth noting Geo Howard was back to return punts, so in all probability we will have someone else back there handling that responsibility for this one.

Not so much a key, but…

Grant DuBose EXPLODED onto the scene vs Duke. I’ll be honest here, when we took a guy from Miles College (who? where?) that only had 8 catches there in 2019 (10 games), I scratched my head a bit. Then you see him getting hyped up some in the preseason and I was still:

Now I’m here to say this to Grant DuBose: I was wrong. Congratulations on a hell of a night, now lets go make some more of them! ??

Come get ready for the Gardner-Webb game with your fellow Niners on Discord