After all the good feelings of victory the first two weeks, the Charlotte 49ers experienced a new feeling–losing–in a 40-13 defeat to the North Carolina Central Eagles. But what went wrong after two straight blowout wins against Campbell and Chowan? Here’s a few things that we saw.
–Turnovers, turnovers, turnovers: It’s going to be very hard to win football games anytime you turn the ball over eight times. Nevertheless, that was the case yesterday, with five of those coming off of Johnson interceptions. For Johnson, it looked like he was trying to force things into happening, rather than reading the field and making the plays that he needed to make. To his credit, he did finish with solid yardage through the air and made several strong plays, but he’ll definitely be watching the game film with the coaching staff and trying to iron some things out before Saturday’s showdown at James Madison.
–Missed tackles: In the press box, the media was commenting on the number of missed tackles that Charlotte had. They simply weren’t able to wrap up the ball carrier, leading to big plays and the defense having to stay out on the field longer than they had to. On one occasion, I saw Terrance Winchester unable to take down a Central ball carrier in the end zone; the player didn’t pick up first down yardage but it still shortened the field for the Eagles.
–Poor pass coverage: Charlotte actually did a good job of getting to the quarterback at times and forcing Jordan Reid to make plays. Two problems with that, though: (1) too much of the middle of the field was left open, leaving receivers free in the slot to make catches; (2) see the missed tackles situation above, giving Reid extra time to operate. Points one and two combined led to Adrian Wilkins and others being able to rack up some good yardage.
–Rush defense was suspect: Central had 207 yards on the ground, including 80 by Idreis Augustus, who provided a little bulletin board material days before the game. JMU’s leading rusher, Dae’quan Scott, is a second-team all CAA selection and has 417 yards on 74 carries (along with three touchdowns) over three games, an average of 139 yards a game. That’s likely to me a huge focus this week in practice.
–Special teams: Wilkins ran one back all the way 100 yards to open the 2nd half. Thomas Dixon had a 52-yard return of his own. Those stats speak for themselves.
Hats off to the coaching staff and players for recognizing some of that in the post game and pledging to get back to work this week in practice, but they’ll be facing much bigger test against nationally ranked James Madison on the road next week–we’ll see if they’re ready.