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2021 Charlotte football season preview

2020 season: 2-4, 2-2 in C-USA (4th in the East Division)

Head coach: Will Healy (3rd season)

Last season, Charlotte only played about half a season’s worth of games due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In conference play, the 49ers were mediocre at best, finishing with only a .500 record in C-USA.

Redshirt senior Chris Reynolds will notch the start on Sept. 3 in his third season as the team’s starting quarterback. Last year, he threw for 1,305 yards in only six games. However, his efficiency fell off quite a bit from the 2019 season dropping from 8.8 to 7.5 yards per attempt. Reynolds must step up his game for the 49ers to improve this season.

Last year’s starting running back, Tre Harbison, has left the program for the NFL, but Charlotte will rely on the talents of transfer Shadrick Byrd. There’s a lot unknown with the ground game given that Byrd has yet to play an offensive snap in college, but there is very little experience in the backfield to keep as a failsafe should Byrd not work out. Look for the 49ers to rely heavily on Reynolds’ arm in the game.

The Charlotte defensive unit allowed 32.5 points per game last season and a whopping 214 yards per game on the ground. The key for the team against Duke will be to slow down Mataeo Durant, who’s coming off a stellar season for the Blue Devils in which he won team MVP. There’s little evidence to support that the 49ers can limit running backs, and if that trend continues, they’re looking at another long, unsuccessful season in Jerry Richardson Stadium.

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