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UMass Minutemen vs. Charlotte 49ers: Preview & Prediction

Matching up are two of college football’s youngest coaches in Walt Bell (35) and Will Healy (33).

Alex Highsmith making the tackle. Highsmith is second in the nation with 4 sacks through two weeks of action.
Sam Roberts/FreezeFrame

Records: Charlotte (1-1, 0-0 C-USA) vs. UMass (0-2, Independent)

Date & Time: Saturday, September 14th, 6:00 PM

TV: ESPN+

Location: Jerry Richardson Stadium, Charlotte, NC

Betting Line: Charlotte -19.5, O/U: 66.5

All-Time Series Record: UMass leads 1-0

Previous Matchup: UMass 49, Charlotte 31. UMass capitalized on a flurry of 49er mistakes to take an early 28-0 lead and didn’t look back in their 2018 matchup.


UMass outlook: With 13 starters to replace and first-year head coach Walt Bell, the Minutemen have had a tough start to the 2019 season. Their defense is giving up 46.5 points per game and has lost the time of possession battle in both weeks, something the 49ers have dominated dating back to the 2018 season.

Senior QB Randall West has had a tough season so far, completing 60% of his passes for only 231 yards, a touchdown and two interceptions. Getting the offense going will be top-priority for the Minutemen, as they must keep up with the 49ers who are leading C-USA in points per game (45), and yards per game (517).

Massachusetts v Rutgers
Randall West looking to pass against Rutgers.
Photo by Corey Perrine/Getty Images

UMASS will need to get their offense rolling while facing a defense that is giving up 42 points a game, but much of the damage done against the 49ers has been at the hands of the big play; something the Minutemen have struggled with tremendously, with their longest play of the season being a 39 yard catch by junior wideout Cam Roberson.

Keys to getting their first win under Walt Bell:

  • Capitalize on special teams’ miscues
  • Take deep shots against the 49er secondary
  • Protect the rock

Charlotte’s outlook: The 49ers lost a heart-breaker to in-state rival Appalachian State last weekend, but head coach Will Healy says he’s having no trouble getting this unit ready to play in front of their home crowd against UMass.

Benny LeMay has eclipsed the 100-yard rushing mark in both games this season, and I expect he will continue this trend as he faces a defense that has given up 200+ yards of rushing in every game of the 2019 campaign.

Benny LeMay on the run from the UMASS defense.
Sam Roberts/FreezeFrame

Will Healy’s offense has been on fire, putting up 49 and 41 points in the first two weeks of the season. From the one-minute remaining mark in the third quarter to the three-minute mark in the fourth against Appalachian State, sophomore QB Chris Reynolds completed 14 straight passes for over 200 yards, three touchdowns and seven first downs. Facing a defense that is giving up 528 yards a game, I expect the 49ers offense to have yet another strong showing Saturday night.

If the 49ers’ defense tightens up, this could be a long night for the visitors in the Queen City.

Keys to bouncing back in week 3:

  • Feed LeMay
  • Limit mental mistakes (penalties & assignments)
  • Tackle on special teams

Prediction: I believe Walt Bell’s Minutemen will have to take a plethora of chances and be successful in those to stay in this game, but UMass is just 1 of 5 on fourth down this season, and their offense has yet to show any signs of explosiveness. If Charlotte’s special teams can improve as we move into the third week of the season, I think this one could get away from the Minutemen quickly. Benny LeMay and Ishod Finger have the potential to run rampant against the UMass defense, opening the door for Chris Reynolds to continue his hot streak from last weekend in Boone. I believe Charlotte will avenge their loss from last season, beating UMass 42-27.