The Charlotte 49ers’ third game of their inaugural season on September 14 will see them taking on a second FCS team. That team is the Eagles of N.C. Central out of the MEAC, and will be the final game of a three-game home stretch before the Niners hit the road and head to Presbyterian.
After a season that saw them bounce back nicely after a 2-9 (1-7 MEAC) showing in 2011, the Eagles hope to carry over some success from 2012. It won’t be easy, though. The good news: Jordan Reid, who threw for 1,594 yards and 13 touchdowns last year, returns for a final year, and he and Matt Goggins should challenge each other for the starting quarterback position. But leading receiver Geovonie Irvine are gone, as are classmates Decona Roberts and Arthur Goforth (a running back), leaving Marvin Poole as the top returning wideout (yardage-wise) for a less than stellar receiving corps. Goforth’s graduation leaves several questions to be answered as far as the running game is concerned; Andre Clarke, a viable red zone threat (9 TDs) will need to prepare for a greater load this season.
Defense sees some significant losses as the top two sack artists (Stephen Young–5.5 and Xavier Proctor–4.0) were lost to graduation. But leading tackler Tazmon Foster (80) returns for his senior season. Ryan Smith, a redshirt freshman in 2012, emerged as a up and comer for the team in his first year of action (65 tackles, three interceptions).
NCCU may need to lean primarily on its quarterback play and defense if they hope to replicate or improve on 2012’s winning season. Reid struggled a bit toward the end of the season, but he’ll need to put together a complete campaign this time around for his team to win.