2022 Charlotte 49ers Preview

by Matt Fargo

Charlotte 49ers

2021-22 Season Record 5-7 (3-5 C-USA East) - 5-6-1 ATS - 6-6-0 O/U

Returning Starters

Offense - 8
Defense - 6

Overview

This is the eighth season for Charlotte playing college football and while there has not been a ton of success, it has been relatively competitive. The 49ers went to their first bowl game in 2019 following a 7-5 regular season but it has had two straight losing seasons heading into a possible turnaround in 2022. Charlotte was on its way to its second ever bowl game last season, winning five of its first nine games but closed the season with three straight blowout losses to finish 5-7. Head coach Will Healey enters his fourth season and will likely need a winning campaign and a trip to a bowl game to save his job. The 49ers bring back one of the most experienced offenses in the country so the potential is there on that side and they will have to outscore opponents because of a questionable defense. The schedule is on their side to get it done with three winnable conference road games.

Offense

Eight starters return on an offense that finished No. 66 in the country, averaging 404.3 ypg, and the unit comes into the season ranked No. 8 in returning production. Quarterback Chris Reynolds enters his fourth season as the full time starter and he was excellent last year, throwing for 2,684 yards with 26 touchdowns and only nine interceptions. The passing game can be even better as he has his top three weapons back led by Grant Dubose and Victor Tucker who combined for close to 60 percent of the receiving yards. The offensive line was decent with protection as it allowed 25 sacks and should cut that down as four starters are back. The running game lacks a go to star but it is a two-headed attack of Calvin Camp and Shadrick Byrd that combined for 1,218 yards on 5.0 ypc last season so the spread offense is balanced enough to keep defenses on their toes.

Defense

This is where the 49ers season will likely be decided. The defense was awful last season as Charlotte allowed 465.3 ypg which was No. 120 in the nation and each unit was bad as it finished No. 112 in passing defense and No. 116 in rushing defense. After allowing 38 points or more in half of their games, the 49ers have to improve in a hurry. There is experience coming back as they do return six starters but the players gone were some of the best. Charlotte lost three of its top four tacklers as the linebacking corps is the biggest work in progress. It will hope to apply more pressure to the quarterback as the 49ers had only 16 sacks last season which was tied for No. 118 in the nation and while the defensive line is small, it is quick to get into the backfield. The secondary is experienced and deep led by safeties Solomon Rogers and Marcus Robitaille but more takeaways are needed. 

2022 Season Outlook

It is a make or break season for Healey who has a career 15-17 record in Charlotte and while he has not had any disastrous seasons, his teams have put up some individual game clunkers with 16 of the 17 losses coming by double-digits and by an average of 21.3 ppg. Not ideal. He has to take advantage of the offense he has in place and hope the defense can at least do an average job. The 49ers start conference play right out of the gate as they travel to face Florida Atlantic and then plays four straight non-conference games, three of which are likely losses. Two of the three remaining C-USA road games are winnable at Rice and Middle Tennessee St. and they should take three of the four conference games at home. The O/U win total is 5.5 so win the games it should and Charlotte will finish at least 6-6 and can be better if it can pull an upset or two along the way. 

All photographic images used for editorial content have been licensed from the Associated Press.

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