Photo credit: Sam Roberts, Freeze Frame
Charlotte comes away from College Park with a loss
This was not the homecoming Biff Poggi and his DMV-heavy roster wanted. After a hotter-than-the-sun start, leading 14-0 3:10 into contest, the Niners wouldn’t score again until 1:22 remaining in the 4th quarter. Charlotte’s offense struggled to string together much of anything after the initial drive, where they ran the ball well and proceeded to beat the Terps over the top on a busted coverage for a 48-yard TD pass to Jairus Mack. After this connection, Charlotte punted on 5 straight possessions, before throwing an interception and fumbling a snap.
After a lackluster offensive showing versus South Carolina State, this is now an area that has to raise concerns heading into a pivotal game 3 of the season. Why’s it pivotal? After Charlotte hosts Georgia State this weekend, they’ll head to the Swamp to face on the Florida Gators. While they Gators appear to be down, realistically their talent and depth will drastically exceed what Charlotte has. That said, games are played for a reason, the talk and analysis is ultimately just noise and fan fodder.
Head coach Biff Poggi thinks it’s a big one too:
Biff Poggi on Georgia State:— Hunter Bailey (@Hunter_Bailey45) September 10, 2023
"We are on the precipice of our season, I know it's crazy it's only Week 3. But we have to win this game."
Takeaways from Game 2
Charlotte had to win the turnover battle and create havoc in Maryland’s backfield. The turnover battle was a wash, thought Charlotte did land a pick-six when Demetrius Knight took one to the house on Taulia Tagovailoa’s first pass attempt of the game. Kam Howard recorded the 2nd pick, taking a touchdown away from Maryland. That marks his second interception in 2 games played for the true freshman safety from St. Frances Academy.
The Niners were down starters Dez Morgan and Jalar Holley in College Park, and their absence was especially felt in the second half when it was pretty evident the front-line guys wore down. Julius Welschof went out for the game in the first half and never returned. He appeared to hurt his right shoulder, so that’ll need monitoring. Charlotte has to get healthy, quickly, on the defensive front, Georgia State is going to look to go run heavy as always, and try to beat you with explosive plays over the top. Speaking of the defensive line, Austin Fontaine (Maryland transfer) is Charlotte’s top-graded performer on the defensive side after 2 games this season by PFF. Jonathan “Big Wall” Wallace jumped off the screen a few times early in the game, but with the depletion of the defensive line, I think his impact was due to needing to play too many snaps.
The offensive line for Charlotte was pushed around by the Terps front line, with both starting tackles yielding a sack, and as a unit surrendered too many pressures. This unit has to give Jalon Jones more time if they are looking to improve this area of the game. And frankly, it has to get better. You can only run so much; the defense has to be kept honest.
When it comes to the passing game, Charlotte’s wideouts and tight ends have to be able to create some more separation. Jalon Jones did complete several passing into tight windows, and I’m still perplexed about Jack Hestera’s catch being overturned in the first half. That stalled what could have been another scoring drive, and sucked the life out to the Terps. Jaden Bradely, Pitt transfer, finally saw the field, but it was late in the second half and I don’t believe he was targeted. He provides a target with size and athleticism, and Charlotte needs all the help it can get in this phase of the game.
I was hoping to see more of Durell Robinson in this one, but it seems as he may be dinged up as well. Multiple folks have discussed him limping off the field. Perhaps that’s why he only had 7 carries on Saturday night. Charlotte needs him healthy, if not, I expect more touches for Terron Kellman and Shad Byrd versus Georgia State.
There are absolutely no moral victories with Biff Poggi and this regime. They expect to win, so I know they were disappointed with the result. From a fan’s perspective, you can clearly see an improved defensive unit for Charlotte, especially when looking at the coverage in the secondary. It’s a night-and-day difference, but I think we’re all waiting to see how they stack up versus Georgia State.
Heading into game 3, I ultimately think there are more questions than answers at this point, with most of those concentrating around the lack of offensive production and injuries. This will be the best game to evaluate Charlotte Football so far in the Biff Poggi era. Kinks should all be ironed out (that means no more illegal formation penalties, please) and we’re set to face off against a fellow group of five opponent in Georgia State (2-0) Saturday at 6pm ET at Jerry Richardson Stadium.