Charlotte faces FAU for commanding control of the East
It feels like it has been a month since Charlotte has gotten to play in front of their home crowd and rowdy student section. Well, it has in fact been a month since that with their last home game coming against Middle Tennessee on September 24th.
As a quick recap, the 49ers have been on the road twice since they last played at home. One loss came against Illinois and a victory against Florida International. They are home this week against the Florida Atlantic Owls in a matchup that will play a big role in deciding the winner of the east side of C-USA.
Here are three keys to defeating the Owls
Contain the run
While this might not be the 49ers’ strong suit on the defensive side of the ball, it will need to be if they want to stifle the Owls offense. FAU has four running backs who average over 4.5 yards per carry and this could spell disaster for Charlotte if they do not get penetration and get to their backs quickly.
The defense showed improvements in their last contest against FIU on the ground but gave up more than wanted through the air. This team has the potential to be very good defensively with a lot of talent, but they have to work together as a unit and run to the football.
Get off the field on third-down
This FAU team is fifth in the nation in third-down conversions converting 51.7% of all third-downs. This is efficient, to say the least, and a team like Charlotte who ranks sixth in C-USA in getting off the field on third down could struggle with a team like FAU. Head Coach Will Healy and linebacker Tyler Murray believe they are up for the challenge.
“We need to just be expecting what we should be on third downs,” Murray said. “Doing what we know how to do should help us on every third-down.”
“I think it is important to make sure those are third and seven pluses and not third and one’s and two’s,” Healy said. “We have to get them behind schedule on defense.”
Get the offense rolling early
When it comes to how the offense performs, look no further than the man under center, not physically but figuratively. Chris Reynolds will look to get his troops going early and hit FAU with some knock-out punches early. Not always by play hero ball, but taking it one play at a time.
“They have a great defense and a great secondary,” Reynolds said. “I think it is a matter of starting off doing your job. Just take it one play at a time and don’t feel like you have to win the Superbowl in one play.”
Looking to gameday
If the 49ers can get these things done, they have a really good shot to take a commanding lead in the C-USA East race. Gametime is set for 7:30pm on Thursday night on the CBS Sports Network.