Charlotte 49ers (1-4, 0-1 Conference USA) vs UTEP (2-3, 0-1 Conference USA)
Date/Time: Saturday, October 1, 6:00 PM ET
TV: ESPN3 (Play-By-Play: Bobby Rosinski/Analyst: Reginald Walker Jr./Sideline: Hannah Bradey)
Radio: Learfield/Charlotte Sports Network (Play-By-Play: Matt Swierad/Analyst: Al Wallace)
Location: Jerry Richardson Stadium, Charlotte, NC
Betting Line: UTEP -3 O/U 53*
All-Time Series Record: Charlotte leads 2-0 (Charlotte won last matchup 38-28 in 2020)
*Odds/lines subject to change. T&C’s apply. See draftkings.com/sportsbook for details
The Charlotte 49ers are a team with tremendous upside. The Niners fatal flaw is consistency, as they repeatedly lose steam in the second half of games. “I thought we played about as well as we could possibly play in the first half offensively, just weren’t able to carry it over”, said Head Coach Will Healy following the loss to South Carolina.
Before the Niners collapsed, they were 7 for 7 on 3rd downs. Ball control plays hand in hand with time of possession, as Charlotte led in that statistic at the half (17:17 to 12:56). The Niners lack of an elite rushing attack becomes more apparent as a game goes on, allowing opponents to switch up their defensive schemes.
In the second half of last week’s matchup, South Carolina began turning up the heat on Charlotte QB Chris Reynolds. “They did a good job of putting pressure on Chris. Batted balls equals picks…”, said Head Coach Will Healy.
South Carolina did not try to match Charlotte’s passing attack. Instead, the Gamecocks dominated the game by relentlessly running the ball. It is no secret that the Niners lack the ability to stop the run. The best defense against Chris Reynolds is keeping him off the field.
Injuries on the defensive side of the ball have become an issue for Charlotte. The Niners were down nine defensive backs in last weeks game against South Carolina after Prince Bemah, Solomon Rogers and Valerian Agbaw left the game.
After a full week of recovery, Charlotte looks to get back in the win column this week, as they host 2-3 UTEP. If the Niners can string together drives throughout the entirety of the game, they’ll have a good chance of going 3-0 in the All-Time Series record versus the Miners.
The Miners look to continue their win streak (W1) against Charlotte in Jerry Richardson Stadium. UTEP has excelled at limiting turnovers this season. They did not concede the ball once in last week’s matchup to Boise State. This may spell trouble for Charlotte, as the Niners game plan is centered around Chris Reynolds and their aerial attack.
UTEP is not a team that likes to get into offensive shootouts. Although the Miners rank 68th in defense, giving up 25.2 points per game, they underwhelm on the offensive side of the ball, scoring only 16.6 points per game.
So far this season, UTEP has had more success in non-conference games. The Miners starting quarterback Gavin Hardison’s conference splits are intriguing, completing only 43.8% of his passing attempts in conference matchups, compared to 52.3% when facing non-conference opponents. To the Miners credit, they don’t need superhuman performances from their offense to win games. UTEP takes pride in having a balanced team, choosing to beat teams by a thousand paper cuts, rather than big splash plays that keep them afloat.
This matchup will be the closest spread for the Niners this season (+3). Charlotte looks to clean up their mistakes, as they try to keep the ball moving consistently in both halves of play.
UTEP will look to control the ball and time of possession. The Miners’ offense is not known for engaging in high scoring affairs. However, Charlotte’s injuries on defense might allow UTEP to roll out a more liberal approach.
Final Score: UTEP 24, Charlotte 31