|Charlotte football 'building on, not just starting over' with Healy|
|49ers open preseason drills with changes|
|Published Wednesday, July 31, 2019 1:21 pm|
|PHOTO | TROY HULL|
|Victor Tucker, Charlotte's top returning receiver from 2018 with 54 catches for 712 yards and two scores, returns from a team that went 5-7 last season. The 49ers opened their first preseason camp with new head coach Will Healy Wednesday on campus.|
Charlotte 49ers football opened preseason with new energy.
First-year head coach Will Healy brings something different to the table, and that’s not just because he is significantly younger than previous head coach Brad Lambert. Healy was up an hour and a half before his alarm clock for the first practice.
“I think I woke the baby up as I was leaving,” said Healy, whose second child was born earlier this year. “It’s an incredible place. I feel even more excited about it now than when I took the job [last December].”
Charlotte opens against Gardner-Webb on Aug. 29 at 7:30 p.m. at home and head to Appalachian State on Sept. 7 for the first road contest of the season. The first scrimmage is Aug. 10.
“The focus has been great,” said sophomore wide receiver Victor Tucker, who led the 49ers with 54 receptions for 712 yards and two touchdowns. “I love the energy, the passion. We have some kinks and bruises to get out, but it’s great we don’t play a game today. We’re just working to get better every day.”
Said senior defensive back Ben DeLuca: “The energy and intensity was high. We’re older. There’s a lot of us coming back. We have a lot of experience. We have a lot of energy on the offense, a lot of dynamic playmakers in Vic[tor Tucker] and Benny [LeMay, senior running back], Cam Clark [a senior offensive lineman]…I could really go on. We’re building on top of something. We’re not just starting over.”
LeMay, who led the 49ers with 232 carries for 1,243 yards and 11 touchdowns, averaged 103.6 yards per game.
Sophomore Chris Reynolds had the starting job at quarterback for six games before sustaining a right ankle injury that required surgery in October. He completed 100-of-154 attempts for six touchdowns and two interceptions. Healy noted that a decision about who will start at in 2019 won’t be made for a while.
“It’s the intangible side of it,” Healy said. “Who can get the best out of the people around them is extremely important in that position, and then, who executes the best? You have to have the athletic ability to be able to do it. You have to throw the ball well enough to do it, but I think it’s the consistency we’re looking for right now. You definitely wouldn’t make a decision before you go through a scrimmage and put them in some full pads and things move a little bit faster. We’re definitely a little ways away from that, and you try not to put too much into a helmets practice.”
Charlotte was picked to finish last in Conference USA’s East Division despite going 4-4 in league play last season and 5-7 overall. The 49ers are 22-48 overall all time and still searching for their first bowl appearance. Healy stressed “a sense of urgency” as preseason progresses.
“If we were at peak level right now, level right now, I would be concerned,” he said. “There’s still plenty of things we need to work on, but we need to have a sense of urgency with getting there, not just being laid back like, ‘oh it was day one. I’ve got plenty of time.’ We’ve gotta get after it. We’ve gotta get better from day to day. It’s being realistic that we don’t have to be there tomorrow, but it’s understanding we can’t take a day off.”
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