After a surprise 2016 season Charlotte has regressed
In front of a sold out Jerry Richardson Stadium for the home opener, Charlotte lost 35-31 to North Carolina A&T. Against his former team, Hasaan Klugh struggled passing the ball once again as he was 13-of-29 for 170 yards with three touchdowns and two interceptions. His offensive line did him no favors as Klugh was sacked seven times.
Charlotte’s rushing attack was great as Benny LeMay rushed for a career best 158 yards but the lack of consistency on offense against an FCS team is extremely concerning as the 49ers only had 17 points after the third quarter.
Without Larry Ogunjobi it was expected that the defense would regress but allowing an FCS team to score 35 points is unacceptable. I thought 2015 Charlotte was a thing of the past but the 49ers might finish with a worse record than their inaugural FBS 2-10 season.
Brad Lambert surprised everyone when they went 4-8 last season with road wins over Conference USA’s flagship schools Marshall and Southern Miss. Although picked to finish last in C-USA East, many figured if Lambert could tread water this season the 49ers might be setup for a breakthrough 2018 season but that doesn’t seem to be the case. Looking at the schedule, if Charlotte doesn’t beat Georgia State next week the 49ers could go winless as they will be an underdog in every conference game.
WKU is officially no longer the juggernaut of year’s past
In Conference USA’s Game of the Week, WKU hosted Louisiana Tech in their conference opener and for a little bit, they looked like the Hilltoppers we’re accustomed to seeing.
Explosive plays from the passing offense, a little bit of trickeration on special teams, and a solid defense. Leading 22-13 halfway through the fourth quarter with the ball, we usually see the Tops rip off a touchdown drive to put the game away. What we saw instead was a six-play drive resulting in a punt, and in that moment is when La Tech seized the moment and started their comeback.
The loss is a deflating one for Mike Sanford. WKU outplayed Tech for the majority of the game but lacked the killer instinct to put the Bulldogs away. The offense just doesn’t look as potent as years past and to not see WKU score points in bunches at home was strange.
In three years under Jeff Brohm Western Kentucky averaged 48.2 points per game at home while compiling a 17-2 record. Their last home loss in conference play was in 2014 against UAB, Brohm’s first year. WKU scored just 22 points last night. It took the first conference game in the Mike Sanford era to reveal to us that the aura of WKU football is no longer the same.
Conference USA West might be better than Conference USA East
Since the current configuration of Conference USA, C-USA East has dominated C-USA West. The last three conference champions have come from C-USA East (Marshall 2014, WKU 2015 and 2016).
The worst teams in the conference have generally been from C-USA West too. But after preseason favorite Louisiana Tech defeated preseason favorite WKU things might change this season.
CUSA West > CUSA East— Javi (@RivalsJavi) September 17, 2017
Out of the six teams in C-USA who have a winning record, four reside in C-USA West (La Tech, Southern Miss, UAB, UTSA). The last undefeated team in C-USA resides in C-USA West (UTSA).
With conference play yet to begin in earnest for all 14 teams we’ll see if the early trend holds up with C-USA West winning the head-to-head matchups over C-USA East but right now it’s fair to give C-USA West the nod.