2020 Season Preview

Charlotte

Head coach: Will Healy (7-6, second year)
2019: 7-6 (5-3) 95th in SP+
2020 projection: 6-6 (4-4), 107th
Five best returning players: QB Chris Reynolds, WR Victor Tucker, LB Henry Segura, DE Markees Watts, WR Tyler Ringwood

The tl;dr version, in case you’re late to the Will Healy Chronicles:

Healy snared the Austin Peay head-coaching job at the age of 30, in part because no one else wanted it. The Governors were in the middle of what would become a 29-game losing streak, but they went 8-4 in his second season and nearly made the FCS playoffs.

He provided another energy boost at Charlotte. Through four years in FBS, the 49ers were averaging just three wins per season with an average SP+ ranking of 124.8, but after a 2-5 start in his debut campaign, they rode five straight wins to their first bowl bid. And oh, did they celebrate.

Still only 35, Healy is a rising star, a Dabo Swinney-style delegator, motivator, recruiter and brand-builder. His career trajectory is an upward slope, and it seems likely that if or when he leaves Charlotte, he’ll leave a better program than the one he found.

Healy did lose offensive coordinator and line coach Alex Atkins, another potential rising star, to Florida State. Atkins was at the helm of a ground-heavy attack that surged to 55th in offensive SP+ thanks to the tandem of quarterback Chris Reynolds, thousand-yard rusher Benny LeMay and a line that included all-conference left tackle Cameron Clark.

LeMay, Clark and two other starting linemen are gone, though Healy brought in NIU transfer Tre Harbison (1,021 yards in 2019), and the line does still feature five players with starting experience. Reynolds himself is perfect for the Healy offense, and he’s got a couple of big-play wideouts in Victor Tucker and Cameron Dollar. Still, it’s hard to sustain your gains after a huge surge like this.

The bar is a lot lower for a defense that ranked 107th in defensive SP+ last season. The 49ers defended the pass more aggressively than most of their C-USA peers – ninth in sack rate, 41st in passing success rate allowed – but the risks were sometimes punished with big plays, and a solid pass defense makes more of a difference when the run D isn’t a total sieve.

Both end Tyriq Harris and safety Ben DeLuca missed most or all of 2019 due to injury, and both are scheduled to return for second-takes at their senior seasons. They could be key to replacing two valuable contributors: end Alex Harrington (12 sacks) and safety Marquavis Gibbs.

Healy signed a few JUCO defenders, and there are seniors at each level of the defense. But improvement in 2020 could be driven by youngsters like linebacker Prince Bemah, safety Jonnie Pitman or lineman Bryan Wallace, all of whom did quite a bit of damage in backup roles. Also: redshirt freshman corner Trey Bly is the son of legendary corner Dre’ Bly, which, enough said.

SP+ gives the 49ers a 58% chance of reaching bowl eligibility again, but that’s with the D projected to fall to 123rd. Make that defense 90th or 100th, and they become dark-horse East contenders.

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clt says good ol Alex Harrington

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Link to entire piece:

Plus C-USA West preview:

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3. Charlotte: For the record, I believe Charlotte’s Victor Tucker is the top receiver in Conference USA, and the duo of he and quarterback Chris Reynolds are the best QB-WR tandem.

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8. Charlotte: In terms of OL coaching hires, Charlotte’s addition of Lee Grimes to lead this unit could’ve been one of the best in all of college football, not just Conference USA.

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If Grimes abilities on the field are anywhere near as good as his recruiting they are correct.

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It feels good for all these CUSA articles to be hot on us! Nothing like coming into the new year with the expectation to be good in both football and basketball. It’s been a long time coming that’s for sure.

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let’s just hope that it gets better from here. my hopes for charlotte are extremely high. i feel so proud to call myself a charlotte fan, we have brilliant head coaches in will healy and ron sanchez and we have a fantastic AD in mike hill. we can only go up from here!

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After seeing the staff bolster the OL a bit, I’ll be a bit disappointed if we aren’t competing for the East title.

It feels good to have some expectations for the first time in our short history.

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“We can get Charlotte jumping, we sure can.”

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That would be ideal. We would have a huge turn out. And I could bring the ambulance!!

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Yea this would be one we’d need to pack out. Everyone that missed The Bahamas Bowl can get to have the incredible experience of going to a bowl. It’s so much fun being around all that Green.

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5. Will Healy, Charlotte

At age 35, Healy is one of college football’s youngest coaches and also a coach on the rise for 2020 season.

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Sporting News has Miami Ohio v Troy in the Myrtle Beach Bowl.

CUSA RB preview:

@UT - I just don’t think we have enough, and UT will not sleep on us having lost to Ga State last year. 0-1

Norfolk - We need to win big. 1-1

@Duke - Cutcliffe doesn’t lose down often. 1-2

GaSt - They were good last year, but lost a lot. We need to start beating sun belt teams. 2-2

@Fau - They have a lot of talent and return a really talented QB. I think they beat us. 2-3

@NT They lost the programs best player, and I really wasn’t impressed with their roster a year ago. 3-3

FIU - This is a statement game for our program. IF we are really turning the corner, this is one we need to win. They lost a ton from a year ago, including a QB who torched us. I think we get it done. 4-3 .

UTEP - We need to beat them like a drum. Program just isn’t in good shape. 5-3

@MTSU - I think we lose. We get them on the road, and I was really impressed with the Ohara kid. 5-4

ODU - Similar to UTEP. program is not in a good spot. We need to beat them pretty good. 6-4

@Marshal - They owe us one. Road games are tough late in the year. Similar to FIU I think this is a program defining type of game. If we are really turning the corner, this one’s a W. If we aren’t it’s an L. I’ll take the optimistic route. 7-4

WKU - Statement game. Fists up, we finish. 8-4. They have a good roster, but it’s not about them at this point.

8-4 guys. take it to vegas.

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