Midseason assessment time for Charlotte 49ers Football

by Oct 6, 2021Football

Let’s see what the numbers tell us

This post is going to provide some information from Pro Football Focus (www.pff.com)—I have a media subscription with them which enables me to share this information. Agent 49 annual subscribers get regular PFF-driven updates, and have access to the our PFF Insights channel on Discord where where we talk things over. It allows for subscribers to ask more specific questions that may not be covered in pre/post game content. Every wanted to know how a specific player graded out? Or how many snaps someone played, and at what position/s? We cover all that and more on Discord. Don’t have a plan yet?

Charlotte is hitting the midpoint of the 2021 campaign with a 3-2 overall record, while sitting at 1-0 in C-USA play. Charlotte has been great at home (3-0) and just hasn’t been able to string 4 quality quarters together on the road (0-2). As of right the Niners sit atop C-USA East with FAU. All other teams, except WKU who has not yet played a C-USA game, have at least 1 loss, MTSU has 2 but did upend Marshall at home on Saturday night in Murfreesboro.

When assessing the program, I think everyone has concerns about the defense, primarily around the inability to stop the run, so lets jump in on the defensive side of the ball first…

Defensive grades per PFF College

Defense: 123rd overall (54.5)

Run Defense: 126 (44.1)

Tackling: 103 (54.7)

Pass Rush: 122 (61.4)

Coverage: 75 (67.8)

Photo creditCharlotte 49ers

I think it’s safe to say by this juncture in the season that the defense has some serious flaws and could ultimately hold this team from reaching their potential. There has been no slowing down the run this year.

Rushing yards allowed by game

Game 1

Result: 31-28 win over Duke
Rush yards allowed: 352
Carries: 44
YPC: 8.0

Game 2

Result: 38-10 win over GW
Rush yards allowed: 164
Carries: 40
YPC: 4.1

Game 3

Result: 20-9 loss to Georgia State
Rush yards allowed: 284
Carries: 50
YPC: 5.7

Game 4

Result: 42-39 win over MTSU
Rush yards allowed: 123
Carries: 23
YPC: 5.3

Game 5

Result: 24-14 loss to Illinois
Rush yards allowed: 336
Carries: 50
YPC: 6.7

Per teamrankings.com stats, Charlotte is allowing the 5th most rushing yards per game (all teamranking stats are vs FBS opponents) at 277.5. They are yielding 6.8 yards per carry, which is 128th in the nation. This data pretty much corroborates what PFF is telling us, the run defense has been horrid to date, no way to sugarcoat this side of things. And not surprising, but almost 61% of plays from our opponents have been rush plays, that puts us at 117th overall in this category. I can only image that percentage inches up as we go further into the year.

Passing yards allowed by game

Game 1

Passing yards allowed: 228
Att/Comp: 20-29
YPP: 7.9

Game 2

Passing yards allowed: 50
Att/Comp: 6-22
YPP: 2.3

Game 3

Passing yards allowed: 139
Att/Comp: 6-12
YPP: 11.6

Game 4

Passing yards allowed: 379
Att/Comp: 28-40
YPP: 9.5

Game 5

Passing yards allowed: 78
Att/Comp: 10-19
YPP: 4.1

Per teamrankings.com stats, Charlotte is 41st in the nation, allowing only 206 passing yards per game, 8.2 yards per attempt (100th), and 12.9 yards per completion(86th). The numbers for our passing defense can be looked at several ways. I’m not surprised we are limiting passing yards, as opponents gnashing us on the ground at-will. It does show that even though our coverage defense is rated at 75th overall per PFF, we’re worse than that when you look at the per attempt or per completion data.

That said, if we can improve at stopping the run—even moderately— the overall performance of the defense could see a noticeable improvement. The problem is I’m not sure there is a magic elixir to fix these woes midyear. We’re not adding in new pieces to help, so realistically all you can do is tweak the scheme, hope for increased performance from individual players, or hand the play calling responsibilities to someone else. Best case scenario is our guys gel and the performance sees a nice uptick as we head into the 2nd half of the season.

Offensive grades per PFF College

Offense: 55th overall (75.2)


Pass: 43rd (74.0)

Pass Block: 94th (52.4)

Receiving: 12th (77.9)

Run: 78th (75.9)

Run Block: 82nd (61.6)

Photo creditCharlotte 49ers

While we’ve had some issues at times offensively, you can see here that the offense has performed well overall this far into the season. That receiving grade tells you how, dare I say, elite our wide receiving corps is: Victor Tucker, Grand Dubose and the emerging Elijah Spencer are a hell of a trio. Behind those guys you have solid depth as well, including a solid weapon that in Taylor Thompson at tight end, who just hasn’t seemed to get on track yet.

Rushing yards by game

Game 1

Rush yards: 154
Carries: 40
YPC: 3.9

Game 2

Rush yards allowed: 306
Carries: 46
YPC: 6.7

Game 3

Rush yards allowed: 118
Carries: 39
YPC: 3.0

Game 4

Rush yards allowed: 220
Carries: 40
YPC: 5.5

Game 5

Rush yards allowed: 81
Carries: 27
YPC: 3.0

Per teamrankings.com stats, Charlotte is 71st in the country in rushing yards per game vs FBS at 144.2 at 4.0 yards per carry (68th). Healy wants to be a run-first team and has stated his preferred balance as 40 runs to 25 passes a game. As of right now Charlotte is rushing the ball 53.76% of the time, which is 55th in the nation, so I feel we’ve adapted a bit to be mroe pass-centric this year.

Passing yards by game

Game 1

Passing yards: 324
Att/Comp: 19-30
YPP: 10.8

Game 2

Passing yards: 168
Att/Comp: 15-25
YPP: 6.7

Game 3

Passing yards: 158
Att/Comp: 13-28
YPP: 5.6

Game 4

Passing yards: 339
Att/Comp: 25-36
YPP: 9.4

Game 5

Passing yards: 191
Att/Comp: 17-23
YPP: 8.3

Per teamrankings.com stats, Charlotte is averaging 253 yards per game through the air, which puts them at 45th in the country. With an average of 8.6 yards per pass attempt, that puts Charlotte at 25th in the country, while their average of 13.7 yards per completion is good enough for 31st. Again, these stats are for FBS vs FBS competition. Charlotte’s attempting a pass on 46.24% of their offensive plays.

Personally with the production we’ve had via the air, I feel we may be better suited to be a 60/40 pass-to-run team this season. That said, our offensive line is not grading out very well in run or pass blocking. I’d love to see more of Chris Reynolds rolling out in the pass game to force defenses to respect his scrambling even more. Just feels he hasn’t used his legs as much as he did in 2019.

Random nuggets

I feel that Charlotte’s defense continues to be highly opportunistic, which is how the team has stayed competitive in all games, even with such porous defense. On the season Charlotte has a positive turnover margin, at +1. They are in a tie for 48th at +0.2 turnover margin per game.

Charlotte is in a tie for 60th (1 being least) in the country for penalties per game, not great but not bad either.

Charlotte’s time of possession percentage per game this year is at 53.83%, which is good for 24th in the country. Seems that right now our best defense is our offense, so controlling the ball is the best case scenario until the defense gets more traction.

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