Photo credit: Sam Roberts, Freeze Frame
Charlotte found a way to overcome a bad start at Tulsa, Mike Miller righted the offense behind Trexler Ivey, and ultimately squeaked out a win over the Golden Hurricanes. Charlotte scored a total of 23 points over the course of 12 quarters in October, and managed to exceed that in 1 game, tallying 33-points. Charlotte did this with 2 explosive runs on the ground by Henry Rutledge, and a solid outing from Ivey. Ivey started 3-11, but he and Miller found a rhythm and proceeded to go 17-26 the rest of the way. Biff Poggi stated that Ivey was about 65% healthy in this one after being knocked out versus FAU in the previous contest.
Charlotte’s secondary posted an elite grade versus Tulsa, and their highest Coverage grade in its history from PFF College. This was culminated with Dontae Balfour called game and picked off the Golden Hurricanes to end overtime, right after Nikhai Hill-Green had almost done the same. Hill-Green has been solid for Charlotte, and the Michigan transfer was named the AAC Defensive Player of the Week for his performance, 11 tackles, 2 TFLs, and 1 pass defended.
The Niners limited penalties, just 4 for 35 yards, a very welcome change. Unfortunately, the Niners turned it over two times via fumbles, but also forced a fumble from Tulsa, in addition to the game ending interception from Balfour.
Charlotte was down multiple defensive starters due to suspensions: Eyabi Okie-Anoma, Stone Handy and Al-ma’hi Ali. The defensive started poorly, allowing 17 points on drives 2, 3 and 4 for Tulsa, but hit their groove after that, only allowing 9 points in the second half (Tulsa failed to convert on a 2-pt conversion attempt). In total, Charlotte allowed their most yards on the ground this season, 273 in total. The secondary stood tall, Tulsa went 13-31 for just 139 passing yards and the 1 interception. So far this season Charlotte’s revamped defense is allowing 27.5 points per game in FBS games, that’s almost 12 points less per game than last season and have only allowed 23.7ppg over their last 3.
Jairus Mack had a career day, reeling in 7 catches for 124 yards, with a long of 51. Charlotte desperately needed a wide receiver to step up and make some big plays. His play, along with Jack Hestera’s 2 big catches, can give Charlotte faithful some confidence heading into the final 3 games of the season.
Special Teams made some great things happen, but also had a headscratcher. Grant Gonya had a fantastic coffin corner punt, and another inside the 20. Kyle Cunanan shined, nailing 3 field goals, including one from 49 yards. Reid Williford blocked a punt, which went out of the endzone for a safety. Gonya had one subpar moment, where he somehow impeded Cunanan’s ability to kick the ball with full force and missed a 39-yard FG attempt. Henry Rutledge also sprung a 20-yard punt return, to go with his pair of explosive gains in the running game.