The Charlotte 49ers football team will wrap up their inaugural season in FCS with a trip to Kentucky to take on the Morehead State Eagles. Morehead State’s most famous football alumni is Phil Simms, a two-time Super Bowl champion and now half of the NFL on CBS’s lead broadcast team with Jim Nantz. November 23rd’s contest will also serve as senior day for the Eagles, so that’s a little more motivation for the home team.
After Matt Ballard got the axe after 19 seasons at the helm of the Eagles, Tenyer, the team’s former offensive coordinator, was promoted to fill the spot. Tenyer will be charged with breathing new life into a program that hasn’t had a winning record since 2008. If they’re to get back on the winning track, they’ll have to do it without Zach Lewis, a nearly 3000-yard passer in 2012 that tossed for 25 touchdowns and only 11 interceptions. His favorite target, Donte Sawyer (81 catches, 1024 yards, eight TDs) is gone as well, but Brandon Bornhauser (four touchdowns, 400+ yards) is a viable slot threat. But outside of that, a key component for this offense Rees Macshara. The rising redshirt junior had a breakout season last year in a starting role–over 1000 yards and six touchdowns rushing to go along with 307 yards receiving–and should enjoy better success and increased roles in the passing game in 2013.
The Eagles’ defense is well stocked. Returning is rising junior linebacker Jordan Hendrix, who had a big 2012–a team leading 123 tackles–and is looking for more in 2013 after the graduation of second-leading tackler Dillon Blackburn. Also back: redshirt senior Aaron Meadows, who contributed a team-best six sacks to a cumulative total of 25 (as well as twelve tackles for a loss). Justin Cox, Austin Hollingsworth and Michael Jackson (three sacks a piece) are also keys to what should be a much improved defense. While the Morehead State D allowed just over 200 yards through the air, they struggled to stop the run as a unit last season (220.2 yards per game allowed, 20 touchdowns), so that’s a part of the game the Niners could exploit.
Morehead State looks to be a few pieces away from a very talented team. The only questions in 2013 will involve the passing game and the rush defense; if they’re able to address those needs during the season, they’ll be a tough team for Charlotte (or anyone for that matter) to take down.