The Charlotte 49ers entered the locker room at halftime against Florida Atlantic leading by two points.
The team that took the field in the second half was drastically different. The Owls dominated Charlotte in the final 30 minutes, scoring 31 unanswered points on the way to a 38-9 victory. Second-half adjustments appeared non-existent for the 49ers, and FAU capitalized quickly.
Florida Atlantic head coach Willie Taggart’s halftime changes were apparent from the first play: FAU needed just 82 seconds to find the end zone on a four-play drive. The uptempo offense caught the 49ers out of position, looking to their sideline for play calls and getting gashed for three touchdowns of 25 yards or more.
Football is a copycat game. The film shows that Charlotte struggles defensively, especially against an uptempo offense with a running back with an active pulse. The 49ers are going to see this every week from here on out, including a matchup with Western Kentucky next week, a team that averages more than 40 points and 450 yards per game.
“I don’t know anything other than to say we got embarrassed on our home field. They kicked our rear end,” coach Will Healy said. “Humbling, frustrating and disappointing. We’ve got a long way to go. We were not ready for the opportunity and the moment, and that is 100% on the head coach.”
Charlotte has been shut out in the second half in all three of the team’s losses this season. Mark Carney’s offense moved the ball well in the first half, but hurt itself with turnovers and poor execution in the red zone. The offense was miserable in the second half culminating in just 98 yards and no points. There were more five-wide sets in this game than they’ve used all season, and it showed, with a 77-yard output on the ground.
Reynolds’ two interceptions in the third quarter were costly, and the Owls wasted no time scoring 21 points in the penultimate period to put the game out of reach.
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“When you’re standing on the sidelines and you’re getting beat as bad as we were, it feels like Willie Taggart has the keys to your soul in his hands,” Healy said. “It’s up to us to stop them. It’s a very humbling feeling to get beat that bad. Really dominated.”
While the scout team does provide uptempo looks in Charlotte’s practice, the 49ers aren’t matching game speed, especially against a program like FAU that has had three No. 1 recruiting classes in C-USA over the past five years. That was apparent Thursday night.
As soon as the Owls went tempo, the game changed. Charlotte was out of position awaiting a defensive play call on numerous occasions, allowing 25 yards per completion on the game. Charlotte entered the night allowing 15 yards per completion and just over 8 yards per attempt, both ranking bottom 10 in the nation.
Charlotte has played seven games this season, allowing 200 plus yards on the ground in four of those — three of which were 280 yards or more. Charlotte allowed just 47 yards on the ground in the first half, but yet again the big play continued to crush the 49ers.
FAU posted five plays of 30-yards or more, two of which went for touchdowns. It felt like more than that. That’s now 12 touchdowns on the season of 30-plus yards, with seven of those coming on plays of 50 yards or more.
The defense starts five newcomers, but nine are seniors or grad transfers. It’s a group of older players that lacks reps as a cohesive unit with so many additions via the transfer portal. Co-defensive coordinators Marcus West and Brandon Cooper’s seats are getting hot.
In Thursday night’s game, mistakes were everywhere. Kicker Jonathan Cruz missed a 44-yard field goal, missed an extra point right before the half, and then kicked the opening kick of the second half out of bounds. Four plays later the Owls had the lead for good.
This was the first game this season in which Charlotte had no chance to win. The Illinois and Georgia State losses were close games with just a few plays that swung the outcome, but this game wasn’t close following the half.
How the team responds will be a big part of the rest of the season. Charlotte gets two extra days to recover and prepare for the Hilltoppers. With a loss, the 49ers are back to .500 overall and in conference play, a far cry from the best start in program history. It’s gut-check time for Healy’s group.
“The message to the team is this sport is so awesome. It allows you to respond,” Healy said. “The excitement and the hype of a huge game at home. Everybody’s excited. We missed that opportunity and we’ve got to earn it back. We’ve got to earn the opportunity to play in meaningful football games. That’s what response is all about. We’ve got to look ourselves in the mirror. We need to go back to the drawing board fast and find a way to get better.”
Source : https://www.msn.com/en-us/sports/ncaafb/the-charlotte-49ers-got-blown-out-at-home-what-e2-80-99s-next-as-the-football-team-regroups/ar-AAPQlV61070