football Edit

Analyzing the Enemy: Charlotte 49ers (10/19/19)

Day: Saturday, October 19

Time: 3:00 PM CST

Location: Houchens Industries–L. T. Smith Stadium

Network: ESPN+

Betting line: WKU -9.0 | O/U: 48.0

History: The Hilltoppers and 49ers are tied 1-1. Last year, Charlotte decisively defeated WKU 40-14.

Position Breakdown

Quarterback Comparison
Ty Storey Chris Reynolds

Pass attempts per game

27.3

19.5

Completions per game

19.0

11.8

Completion %

69.5%

60.7%

Passing yards per game

174.0

158.6

Yards per pass attempt

6.4

8.1

Adjusted yards per attempt

6.5

8.1

Passing TDs per game

1.0

1.8

INT per game

0.33

0.83

Quarterback

In last week's win over Army, Ty Storey went 21-of-30 (70.0%) for 140 yards. Additionally, Storey was responsible for 62 rushing yards and 2 rushing touchdowns. After 3 games as the starting quarterback, Storey is 57-of-82 (69.5%) for 522 passing yards, 6.4 yards per pass attempt, has posted 3 passing touchdowns, and has thrown 1 interception. On the ground, Storey has 39 carries for 100 yards, 2.6 yards per carry, and 2 quarterback keeps for touchdowns. The graduate transfer continually proves that he is more than a game manager: extending plays and executing both in the air and on the ground. The Tops are 3-0 with Storey at starter.

Charlotte's Chris Reynolds is 71-of-117 (60.7%) for 952 passing yards, 8.1 yards per pass, has posted 11 touchdowns, and has thrown for 5 interceptions. On the ground, Reynolds has 47 carries for 189 rushing yards and 3 rushing touchdowns. In last week's loss to FIU, Reynolds went 6-of-10 for 114 yards, 11.4 yards per pass, and 1 touchdown. He carried the ball 9 times for 41 yards.

Both Storey and Reynolds are efficient and mobile quarterbacks, but WKU's stout pass rush and passing defense could prove to be an uphill battle for Reynolds.

Advantage: WKU

Receivers

The 49ers receiving corps is led by three 200+ yard receivers: Cameron Dollar, Victor Tucker, and Micaleous Elder. Seven different receivers have at least one score. However, for the second time this season (FIU and Clemson), Tucker was not in the box score. He is a difference-maker; if utilized, he gives Charlotte an edge in the passing attack and opens up the field. If Reynolds spreads the ball out, WKU's passing defense will be busy.

Jahcour Pearson and Lucky Jackson lead the Hilltoppers as the only two receivers with 200+ yards. Pearson has 33 receptions for 316 yards, 9.6 yards per reception, and 3 touchdowns. Jackson has 25 receptions for 263 yards and 10.5 yards per reception. There was not a lot of action - in terms of yardage - from the passing attack against Army, but there was not an inherent need. Given what we know regarding Charlotte's rushing defense [discussed later in this piece], video game stats from the passing attack are likely not necessary.

Advantage: WKU

Running Back

WKU's ground game is led by Geaj Walker. Through six games, Walker has 122 carries for 558 yards, 4.6 yards per carry, and 4 touchdowns. He has posted four 100+ yard games against the likes of Central Arkansas, FIU, ODU, and Army. Walker could have a big game Saturday against Charlotte as the 49ers' rushing defense ranks among one of the nation's worst: allowing 231.8 yards per game, 5.5 yards per carry, and an average of 3.0 rushing touchdowns per game.

Charlotte's Benny LeMay is the offense's workhorse. LeMay is responsible for 96 carries, 622 rushing yards, 6.5 yards per carry, and 5 rushing touchdowns (as well as 14 receptions, 152 receiving yards, 10.9 yards per reception, and 2 touchdowns). He is the 49ers utility man and they will lean heavily on him during the game. He's ranked first in the league in rushing yards and rushing yards per game. This season, LeMay has posted runs of 65, 58 and 48 yards. However, last week, WKU's rushing defense held Army's stout ground game to their lowest total rushing yardage of the season.

Advantage: Even

Offensive Line

Behind LeMay's success is an offensive line that ranks #41 in line yards, #28 in standard downs line yards, #13 in opportunity rate, #33 in power success rate, and #23 in stuff rate. They have been paving the way for LeMay's production. However, they have not been as stout in pass blocking: ranking #82 in sack rate and #110 in passing downs sack rate.

The Hilltoppers' o-line is statistically opposite of Charlotte's line: good at pass blocking (sack rate, standard downs sack rate, passing downs sack rate) and [statistically] below the national average in line yards, standard downs line yards opportunity rate, etc.

Advantage: Even

Secondary

Last week, WKU's secondary mainly defended against Army's ground attack as the Black Knights ran the ball 75.0% of the game. Army's triple option offense did not give WKU's secondary many chances to accumulate any picks or pass deflections. However, heading into the Army game, WKU appeared to be improving and sits atop the league leaderboard just behind UAB. Charlotte has passed as few as 13 times and as many as 38 times. If the 49ers opt to pass a bit more, WKU has to avoid getting burned by any early strike. Devon Key, Antwon Kincade, and Ta'Corian Darden lead the secondary with a combined 99 total tackles, 6 TFL, 1 INT, 7 pass breakups, 1 quarterback hurry, and 1 fumble recovery.

Charlotte's passing defense, although allowing an average of 180.2 passing yards per game, has allowed the fifth-most passing touchdowns, the third-most yards per pass, and the highest completion percentage in the league. Teams have not had to open up their passing game as they were winning on the ground. Marquavis Gibbs and Jacione Fugate have combined for 87 total tackles, 5.5 TFL, 2.5 sacks, 6 pass breakups, and 1 quarterback hurry.

Advantage: WKU

Linebackers

WKU's linebacking corps is led by Kyle Bailey, who has become a steady and reliable force in the pass rush as well as in the passing defense. He has 49 total tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss, 2 interceptions, and 3 quarterback hurries. Against Army's triple option offense - which can be incredibly difficult for defenses to read and defend against - Bailey had 7 total tackles and 1 quarterback hurry. His efforts will be key against Charlotte's mobile quarterback and LeMay.

Henry Segura, Markees Watts, and Jeff Gemmell lead the 49ers linebacking corps. Combined, the three have 91 total tackles, 8.5 tackles for loss, 4.5 sacks, 2 interceptions, 3 quarterback hurries, and 2 forced fumbles. Charlotte's linebackers are responsible for 12-of-19 total sacks. The 49ers are the second-leading team in total sacks.

Advantage: Charlotte

Defensive Line

The Hilltoppers' defensive front will be without defensive tackle Jeremy Darvin due to a high ankle sprain sustained during the Army game. Darvin had 19 total tackles, 3.5 TFL, 2 sacks, 1 interception, and 3 quarterback hurries. However, defensive tackles coach Kenny Martin has consistently rotated guys and the line still has a lot of depth with Jaylon George, Rick Barber, and Jalen Madden. Defensive ends DeAngelo Malone and Juwuan Jones continue to be a major strength of the team and spearhead the defense. Malone leads the defense with 53 total tackles, 14.0 TFL, 7 sacks, and 7 quarterback hurries. He leads the league in tackles for loss and sacks. Malone is equal parts speedy, elusive, and versatile: able to make tackles all over the field. Teams have to prepare for him. Jones is responsible for 24 total tackles, 5.0 TFL, 3.5 sacks, and 4 quarterback hurries. The two are undeniably consistent and disruptive.

Defensive end Alex Highsmith and tackles Timmy Horne and Tommy Doctor lead Charlotte's defensive front. Highsmith has 27 total tackles, 7.5 TFL, 6.0 sacks, 2 pass breakups, and 3 quarterback hurries. Horne is responsible for 19 total tackles, 2.0 TFL, 0.5 sacks, and 2 quarterback hurries. Doctor has 17 total tackles, 2.0 TFL, and 0.5 sacks.

Advantage: WKU

Special Teams

WKU placekicker Cory Munson is 15-of-15 on extra points and 7-of-11 on field goals. Punter John Haggerty averages 45.4 yards per punt with 7 inside of the 20 yard line. Kick return man Garland LaFrance is averaging 19.5 yards per kick return off of 14 returns.

Charlotte placekicker is 23-of-26 on extra points and 3-of-3 on field goals. Punter Connor Bowler averages 41.93 yards per punt with 5 inside of the 20 yard line. Kick returner Micaleous Elder is averaging 18.44 yards per kick return off of 9 returns. The 49ers coverage has allowed 2 punt return touchdowns and 2 kick return touchdowns from its opponent.

Advantage: WKU

Summary and Prediction

If overlooked, Charlotte could be a trap game. Although the 49ers do not have a prolific offense, they can get the ball in the right hands and score. On the season, Charlotte has averaged 33.0 points per game and 25.0 in conference. However, they have allowed an average 41.0 points per game and 46.5 in conference. If Charlotte strikes early and WKU is not able to convert and score in the redzone, it could spell trouble.

WKU's defense has had a hot start to the first half of the season. They may be one of the best defenses that Charlotte has faced, thus far. With that, WKU's offense has not had to put up video game numbers.

Prediction

WKU 27, Charlotte 20

1st Half: 14 - 10

2nd Half: 13 - 10