Before Buffalo takes on Charlotte next week I thought I would reach out to Underdog Dynasty, While a few G5 schools are fortunate enough to have their own devoted SBNation site, and many others call under the umbrella of a conference blog, most are covered by UDD.
Underdog covers most of the independents, CUSA, The Belt, and the American. ANd they do an amazing job of it.
They have a devoted “Charlotte guy” in the person of Hunter Bailey. Hunter was kind enough to field some questions from me.
Q1 - Looking at your team the x-factor which jumps out at me is Chris Reynolds, he’s efficient and productive through the air and quite a weapon on the ground. Heck, he’s even looked good as a receiver at times (Thinking the FAU game). What, if any, chinks are there in his armor?
A: The biggest knocks on Reynolds coming into this season was the ability to put the deep ball where it needs to be and his height at 5’10. With a shorter quarterback, dealing with batted passes at the line of scrimmage is typical, but in Reynolds’ case, he has combatted that with plenty of throws out of the pocket and even the occasional side-arm pass. It’s tough to highlight the chinks in his armor as he can hit both the short and deep throws, is a threat to rush for 100 at any time, and is the heart and soul of the offense. Reynolds has thrown 10 interceptions on the season, with 8 of those coming across the 50, and has committed five turnovers in the last three games. Ball security will be key as Buffalo is tied for 18th in the nation with a +13 turnover margin.
Q2 - Speaking of the passing game I notice none of your receivers are getting a big lions share of the work. Obviously, Tucker is the big deep threat, but outside of that is there another who stands out as more key to your offense than the rest?
A: Victor Tucker is absolutely the deep threat, but he also has a knack for finding the soft spot in the coverage. The 49ers have had 4 receivers cross the 100-yard mark in a single game this season, but the main three who see the most targets are Tucker, Cameron Dollar, and Tyler Ringwood. Any of the three can pop off at any time, and I think that’s what makes the offense tough to stop. There isn’t a bonified second option, in my opinion, it really just depends on Reynolds’ progressions on the play. If you elect to not double Tucker, he can draw penalties and beat his man one-on-one, but if you do double, that leaves the door open for Dollar, Ringwood, and even LeMay to make plays in the passing game.
Q3 - Finally onto the running game, how would you describe the type of Runner UB will see in Benny LeMay
A: Benny LeMay battled an Achilles injury and missed two games late in the season but has looked back to good health after rattling off two straight 100-yard performance to close the regular season. Buffalo will see a back with the power to run through you, and the speed to run around you. Benny is explosive at the point of contact and is a workhorse for extra yardage. He has made his mark this season with the emerging ability to catch the ball out of the backfield, and before missing time had caught touchdowns in three consecutive games, totaling four on the season.
Q4 - Defensively you’re going to see UB try to run the ball all day long, how have you fared against solid run-first teams this season?
A: The 49ers started the 2019 season with a red-hot offense, but the main problem was that the defense couldn’t get off the field. Appalachian State tailback Darrynton Evans headlined Charlotte’s defensive woes rushing for 234 and three scores, and the thunder-and-lightning combo of Napoleon Maxwell and Anthony Jones combined for 231 and four scores when FIU throttled Charlotte in the midst of their four-game skid. Will Healy’s first season did a complete 180 when the defense hit their stride, and the 49ers held Brendan Knox, C-USA’s leading rusher, to under 100 yards in their senior day victory. Buffalo presents a challenge with two backs over 1,000 yards on the season, both of which have more than 200 carries on the season and average more than 4.7 yards per carry. Even the QB Vantrease has 5 touchdowns in 7 games played. The 49ers front 7 must do their jobs or this one could be a track meet.
Q5 - Prediction?
A: Buffalo’s offense is going to put their head down and try to run straight through the 49ers defense. The Bulls haven’t played in a shoot-out this season, and I think the matchup with Charlotte is going to be just that. Buffalo is +13 in the turnover margin with Charlotte being -3. This battle will no doubt be won by whoever can take care of the ball and win the time of possesion battle. The 49ers will need a solid performance from their O-line to get Benny LeMay and Chris Reynolds rolling, and with that, I’ve got the 49ers in a close one. Charlotte 31, Buffalo 30.