Year Two of Charlotte 49ers football gets underway Wednesday with the the start of preseason practice.
Head coach Brad Lambert welcomes back 16 starters (8 off; 8 def) among the 53 returning letterwinners. Among the returnees are starting QB Matt Johnson, leading rusher Kalif Phillips and top receivers Austin Duke and Trent Bostick. The offensive and defensive lines return intact and the 49ers also welcome back ILB Caleb Clayton-Molby, who ranked third in the FCS in forced fumbles and CB Terrance Winchester, who led the 49ers with three interceptions.
The roster has been complemented with the 49ers third signee class, which includes five players who signed in December and enrolled in January, 2013: 6-2 defensive end Josh Manley; 6-0 safety Branden Dozier; 6-2 inside Linebacker Nick Cook; 6-3 H-back Richard Murphy and 6-3 quarterback Brooks Barden.
The 11-game 2014 Charlotte 49ers Football schedule includes four schools that were ranked or receiving votes in the final 2013 FCS national polls and eight teams that appeared on the inaugural 2013 schedule. The 49ers have six home games and five road games. Three of the six home games are against teams that were ranked or receiving votes in the final FCS National polls: Charleston Southern, James Madison and Coastal Carolina. The 49ers will enjoy bye weeks Oct. 18 and Nov. 1.
The Charlotte 49ers first season included an impressive 45-point victory in the inaugural game, a fourth quarter comeback over #24/#25 Gardner-Webb for a 53-51 victory, a 45-21 road win at FCS Presbyterian and a 61-point record-setting outburst in the season finale at Morehead State.
Charlotte’s first season slate boasted six ranked opponents, including four FCS top 25 teams. The victory over #24/#25 Gardner-Webb will stand as the 49ers first-ever over a nationally-ranked FCS opponent.
QB Matt Johnson (2581 yds; 21 pass TD; 3 rush TD; 2999 total offense) was one of 21 finalists for the Jerry Rice Award, given to the top first-year player in the FCS. Among the six quarterbacks nominated, Johnson was tops in passing yards and total offense and 2nd in passing TDs. He finished 11th in the balloting and was 4th among the six quarterbacks.
Charlotte put up over 500 yards of offense five times. Four of those 500+ games came against FCS scholarship programs, including 501 at #3/#6 ranked Coastal Carolina. The 49ers scored 45 or more points in each of their five wins and over 50 points three times.
Charlotte ranked ninth in the FCS in takeaways (31), fifth in fumbles recovered (16), 25th in interceptions (15) and 29th in tackles for loss (6.9/gm). Charlotte averaged 448.5 yards of total offense (20th) and ranked 26th in the FCS in rushing offense (206.8 yd/gm), 27th in scoring offense (33.4 pts/gm) and 11th in fewest sacks allowed (0.91).
Among the 49ers records established in 2013: Most points in a game (61 vs. Morehead State), most yards rushing (439 vs. Morehead State), most yards passing (342 v. NC Central and Gardner-Webb), total offense (586 v. Gardner-Webb). A total of 93,244 fans (11th in FCS) turned out to Jerry Richardson Stadium to catch the six home games (15,541 avg; 10th FCS).