2019 season: 7-6, 5-3 in the C-USA (4th in C-USA East)
Head coach: Will Healy (2nd Season)
Head coach Will Healy and the 49ers will seek to continue the impressive regular season form they exhibited at the end of last season. After a rough 2-5 start, Charlotte managed to rattle off five straight wins to conclude its 2019 campaign, resulting in the first bowl in appearance in school history.
Chris Reynolds truly emerged as the bonafide leader in his first full year as the team’s starting quarterback. The then-sophomore tossed 22 touchdowns (the most in school history) along with only 11 interceptions, demonstrating his ability to carefully manage games and avoid unnecessary errors. However, the real driving force behind the offense continued to be the rushing attack led by Benny LeMay, who achieved his second consecutive 1,000 yard season en route to signing with the Cleveland Browns as an undrafted free agent this year. It's unclear if another back will be able to duplicate LeMay’s production in 2020, providing uncertainty over the type of production this offense will have as a whole.
Early last season, the 49ers struggled on defense, failing to limit their opponents to 40 points or less in four of their first six games. Most notably, they gave up 52 to Trevor Lawrence and the Clemson Tigers. However, the defensive unit started to jell as the year progressed, allowing a maximum of 22 points in the final four games of the regular season. With the departure of star linebacker Alex Highsmith to the Pittsburgh Steelers, Healy will need to find some way to replace 14 sacks and 75 tackles on the defensive side of the ball.
Charlotte lost a lot of quality talent following last season, and it remains to be seen whether or not it has the requisite personnel to replicate the newfound success. Yet, fans have to be excited about the direction in which their team is heading. The university’s football program only began in 2013, and to reach bowl eligibility after only seven seasons is no small feat. In only his second season as head coach, Will Healy looks forward with optimism as he seeks to lead his squad to another landmark year.