I wrote yesterday about the issues at quarterback for the Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns. They have significant issues, but they are nowhere near what the Charlotte 49ers are experiencing in disappointing quarterback play.
In their first year of FBS football, the 49ers went 2-10 with wins over Presbyterian and Georgia State. They were largely non-competitive throughout the season, facing a Conference USA schedule full of well established programs.
The one thing they could not afford was bad play from the quarterback position. Sadly, that is what they got with from the play of their three quarterbacks. The passing game ended the season with 2,089 total yards, only 163.1 yards per game. That number ranked Charlotte #114 nationally, just above some of the most run oriented offenses in the nation.
In addition, the 49ers threw 23 interceptions on the season, compared to only 12 touchdowns. The leading passer on the year, junior Lee McNeill, threw 10 interceptions and only one touchdown in 190 pass attempts. None of the three quarterbacks ended the season with more touchdown passes than interceptions.
Though they have all three quarterbacks coming back in 2016, the Charlotte coaching staff decided that they needed more help and signed JUCO standout Kevin Olsen. Olsen, younger brother of Carolina Panthers tight end Greg Olsen, was a former four-star quarterback that started his career with the Miami Hurricanes.
He then left after his redshirt freshman season, moving to FCS program Towson. After being dismissed from the program, Olsen went the JUCO route, ending up at Riverside City College.
With that said, let's take a look at the quarterback position moving forward for the 49ers.
On Roster (2016 classification):
Lee McNeill, R-Sr: McNeill was the leading passer for the 49ers in 2015. He was 100-190 passing for 878 yards and only one touchdown. He threw a team-high 10 interceptions on the season. McNeill is the only quarterback on the roster to play in all 12 games in 2015, starting games versus FAU, Temple, Old Dominion, Southern Miss, Marshall, and FIU.
Matt Johnson, R-Sr.: The rising senior was 47-86 for 771 yards and a team-high seven touchdowns. He had the longest pass of the season, the highest completion rate, and the most touchdown passes among Charlotte quarterbacks in 2015. Johnson played in 11 games, making his only start in the season opener versus Georgia State.
Brooks Barden, R-So.: The rising sophomore was 49-99 passing for 440 yards and four touchdowns. His completion rate, 49.5%, was the lowest among the three, but he also threw the fewest interceptions on the season. He only played in seven games in 2015, making starts versus Presbyterian, MTSU, UTSA, Kentucky, and Rice.
Hasaan Klugh, R-So.: The rising sophomore did not see the field in 2015. He does not look to be in the discussion heading into 2016.
Kevin Olsen, R-Jr.: Spent the 2015 season at Riverside City College, playing in nine games. He was 98/174 passing for 1,080 yards and 13 touchdowns. He had a completion percentage of 56.3%. Split time at quarterback with Iam Fieber.
Committed, But Not Enrolled:
Joe Thompson: The 6-1, 203 pound quarterback from Ashburn, Virginia is committed to the 49ers, but will have to wait until national signing day to officially join the program. He should add depth, but a redshirt is likely for him.
What it all boils down to is a free for all among McNeill, Johnson, Barden, and Olsen to earn the starting job for 2016. It is imperative for one of the four to stand out above the other three and win the job. There is talent at running back and on defense, but in today's college football, everything else is worthless without a solid quarterback.
If they have to spend another season playing musical chairs at quarterback, Charlotte will suffer through another 2-10 season like their inaugural FBS season of 2015.