Behind Enemy Lines: Charlotte 49ers

After caging up the Towson Tigers 38-6 in week one, the Terps will host the Charlotte 49ers in the second leg of their home and home series. Last season on the road, the Terps beat Charlotte 56-21 in a game where the Terps offense simply could not be stopped. This season however, Charlotte will be bringing a completely new team into the game this Saturday in large part due to them having a new head coach in Biff Poggi who just happens to be a former high school coach in Maryland at Gilman and St. Frances. This week, I talked with Agent 49 who is close with the Charlotte program to help give Terps fans some insight on the Terps opponent this upcoming weekend.

John Gugs: The 49ers hired Biff Poggi this past off-season, how much of an impact do you expect him to have on the program?

Agent 49: Immediate response from pretty much everyone was, “Who is this guy?”, then you learn his background, his connections to his former players and how well thought of he is at Michigan. That gave folks hope, then you get to see his staff’s efforts on the recruiting
trail, and the optimism soars.

JG: With the hiring of Coach Poggi as well as all the incoming transfers, how big of a change do you
expect to see in the philosophy and style of play from last season to this season?

A49: More than half our roster is new to Charlotte. This isn’t the same team, there is nothing
similar in terms of philosophy. We’re going to run the Michigan scheme, power football, gritty
and try to wear down opponents. Question is, can that work against Maryland with where our
roster stands today? We’ll find out on Saturday night.

JG: Out of all of the incoming transfers, which two transfers do you believe will have the biggest
impact on Saturday?

A49: Our offense is really going to ride on the arm/legs of Quarterback Jalon Jones. He’s a
collegiate journeyman, stops at Florida, Jackson State, JUCO, Bethune Cookman, and now
Charlotte. He’s a tremendous athlete, and he’s going to be a key piece in Charlotte’s run game
approach all year long. On the defensive side, Eyabi Okie (Michigan transfer and a former 5-
star from St. Frances Academy), is who I expect to have the most impact for Ryan Osborn’s

JG: Of the players that returned from last season, which two returners do you expect to have the
biggest impact on Saturday?

A49: Safety Wayne Jones is a key piece for Charlotte’s secondary. When facing a high-powered
offense like Maryland’s, you must be on sound to limit explosive plays. Last year Maryland
had at least 10 explosive plays in the passing game. He’s a leader back there and has to have a
good game for Charlotte. I’m going to use fuzzy math here and go with 2 returning defensive
linemen, Dez Morgan and Jalar Holley. The Terps ran for almost 200 yards last year at
Charlotte, 6.9 yards per carry. Both will need to play well to help clog up the running lanes.

JG: Last season, the 49ers gave up 484 yards per game. What does the defense need to do
differently this season and do you think they can slow down a high powered offense like the

A49: Everything, seriously. Charlotte had one of the worst defenses in the country last year, and a
bottom 10 defense the season before (which we incorrectly assumed couldn’t get worse). The
scheme is different, the personnel is different for the most part.
While it was an FCS opponent, Charlotte stifled the SC State Bulldogs, allowing just 3 points on
just 168 total yards. We certainly don’t expect the same level of dominance at Maryland, but I
don’t expect to give up 56 points and over 600 yards of total offense either.
From what I’ve read regarding this year’s Maryland squad, it sounds like the offensive line is a
worrisome spot. That can be an area for Charlotte to make an impact up in College Park and
look like the drastically different team they are. The front 7 of the defense is undoubtedly this
team’s strong suit.

JG: Last season, the 49ers’ offense lost the ball nearly two times per game last season. What will
they need to do better to take care of the ball and do you think they will be able to against a
Terps defense that’s coming into the game with a lot of confidence?

A49: Like with the defense, everything about the offense is net-new. Coach Locksley said as much
in his weekly press conference, but Charlotte didn’t show a whole lot during our opener. The
playcalling was extremely vanilla. Jalon Jones did throw two interceptions, one in the end
zone on a poorly thrown ball. The other was a third down early in the game, Jones needed
more touch and the ball was slightly behind the WR, but still could have been caught. Instead,
it ricocheted off his hands and into at Bulldogs hands for an easy takeaway.
Charlotte will come out with heavy formations — including a fullback — and are going to be a
run-first team. Former four-star prospect from St. Frances Academy and true freshman
running back Durell Robinson likely sees more touches in this one than in the opener (7 for 71
yards and a TD).
As far as the playcalling, I expect to see Charlotte look for more explosive plays in the passing
game, and for Jalon Jones to use his legs often.

JG: What is your score prediction for the game this Saturday and why?

A49: Maryland 31, Charlotte 17. If Charlotte wants to flip the script from last year and turn this into
a winnable game, they will need to create pressure on Tagovailoa and be +2 in turnover
margin, while finding a way to make some explosive plays in the passing game.

Both teams are coming off of wins against FCS opponents and will be looking to build on those wins against an FBS opponent. Charlotte attacked the transfer portal very hard in the off-season including grabbing a plethora of for Terps to build their roster for coach Poggi’s first season. With a completely new roster and a team looking to prove they belong, it could be a very hungry team out there for Charlotte on Saturday so do not take them lightly. The game is set to kick off at 7:30PM EST and will be airing on NBC.

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