Eagles look to put first blemish on Charlotte’s mark
N.C. Central gets a crack at becoming the first team ever to beat Charlotte in football.
It should be noted that this is the inaugural football season for Charlotte, which is undefeated in two games at Jerry Richardson Stadium where the Eagles (1-1) visit today (noon, NCCUEaglePride.com).
The Eagles at least got to see the 49ers on videotape, and NCCU interim coach Dwayne Foster has seen a team with good size and speed on both sides of the ball that scored in bunches against less-talented Campbell and Chowan.
Charlotte spreads the field on offense and keeps the scheme up-tempo with redshirt-freshman quarterback Matt Johnson tossing the ball around the field, completing 71.2 percent of his passes for 538 yards, eight touchdowns and no interceptions.
NCCU’s youthful secondary will be tasked with locking up Charlotte’s receivers.
“They’re going to make some mistakes,” Foster said.
In the first overtime against St. Augustine’s a week ago, NCCU freshman cornerback Hakiem Swann (5-8, 165) was manhandled by redshirt senior wide receiver Jermaine Jones (6-4, 195). Jones pushed Swann out of the way to position himself for a touchdown catch that gave the Falcons the lead.
But freshman cornerback Michael Jones was in the game during the second overtime and intercepted a pass that set up the Eagles’ winning field goal.
The 49ers’ defense has athletic guys who create havoc with their activity rather than waiting and reacting to what they read, Foster said. The 49ers force the issue, attacking with blitzes out of a 3-4 look.
NCCU will have to run the ball better than it’s done during the past two weekends, Foster said, as the Eagles have struggled to extend drives on both third and fourth down.
NCCU running back Idreis Augustus said the Eagles have to play with more discipline, not hurting themselves with penalties.
When Charlotte coach Brad Lambert pressed play to view NCCU’s coming attractions, he saw veteran signal caller Jordan Reid.
“The thing that jumps out is they’ve got a fifth-year quarterback,” Lambert said. “That’s a comforting thing as a coach to have a guy that’s played a lot of football, and he’s a talented guy and he can throw it and run it, so that’s a problem for us.”
Reid ran the ball 21 times against St. Augustine’s. Whatever his 45-yard yield lacked in quantity was offset by the short, tough gains that either extended drives or put the Eagles in position to do so.
“He creates so many problems for you when you get to rushing the passer, and (when) it wasn’t even a designed run and then he takes off on you,” Lambert said. “He’s got the ability to make guys miss in the open field, so he creates a lot of problems for you from that standpoint.
“Plus, he’s just played ball. He’s an old guy, so, yeah, it’s going to be a tough challenge for us, containing him. And all of a sudden, you put those weapons around him and it becomes a problem.”
Lambert was referring to NCCU wide receivers Lamar Scruggs, Marvin Poole and Adrian Wilkins.
“Their skill guys are — whew!” Lambert said. “They’re going to be better than anything we’ve seen so far. No question”
NCCU also has some youth up front on defense, but Lambert talks as if those guys play like grown men.
“I really like where they are defensive front-wise,” Lambert said. “You look at that defensive front. That’s going to be an issue for us.”
NCCU redshirt senior Aaron “Tank” Wallace (6-1, 315) has 15 tackles at nose guard in two games.