|Will Healy era gets off to successful start with Charlotte 49ers|
|49-28 win against Gardner-Webb in home opener|
|Published Friday, August 30, 2019 9:27 am|
|PHOTO | CURTIS WILSON|
|Charlotte teammates Solomon Rogers (24) and Matt Ramirez celebrate during their 49-28 win against Gardner-Webb Thursday in coach Will Healy's debut.|
It’s uphill from here for the Charlotte 49ers.
Charlotte, which opened the season with an uninspiring 49-28 win against Gardner-Webb Thursday at Richardson Stadium, travel to Appalachian State on Sept. 7 and Clemson on Sept. 21. Charlotte hosted and lost to Appalachian State last season 45-9 under former coach Brad Lambert. It will be their first meeting with Clemson; the Tigers beat Georgia Tech 52-14 to open the season.
Key to the 49ers’ success throughout the season and survival during September’s two road games will be a quarterback system that works and a faster start than against Gardner-Webb.
First-year 49ers coach Will Healy noted earlier in the week that he intended to utilize a quarterback rotation of senior transfer Brett Kean at quarterback and sophomore Christ Reynolds. He added at the time that he did not know who would take the first snap.
Healy went with Kean, who completed 4-of-8 attempts for 50 yards, a touchdown and two interceptions. Sophomore Reynolds—last season’s starter—took over on the third series, bringing instant life to the game. He ran seven times for 72 yards and two touchdowns as well as hitting 14-of-20 pass attempts for a touchdown and an interception, but the job does not belong to Reynolds.
“There weren’t a lot of rushing touchdowns [for me] last year, was there?” Reynolds asked. “It’s different. It’s the offense we run now. It gives myself and Brett and whoever is out there the opportunity to run the ball based on what the defense gives us. It makes it fun. It’s a lot more freedom when you’re out there.”
Said senior running back Benny LeMay (16 carries for 120 yards and two touchdowns, including a career-high 65-yard run): “They both have different playing styles…Chris is more of a versatile guy. You saw that with his nice little run, cutting back. Brett has the throw that he can make, and the strong arm that he has. Really, it’s a dynamic duo.”
Healy has no problem playing the entire season with two quarterbacks.
“As long as both of them are playing at the level they are playing at right now, consistently in practice, and as long as we feel like they’re giving us a great chance to win, I don’t know that I feel better by just naming one,” he said. “We’ve got two that I think will make us difficult to defend. I’m totally good with it. I’ve had to do it plenty of times before. If one of them separates themselves, I’m not afraid to name a starter and go with a guy, but if the competition is helping both, let’s go with it. Let’s give ourselves an advantage.”
However the season turns out, Thursday was about Club Charlotte—a space where a first-time FBS coach celebrates his first win with his players by taking his shirt off, and dancing around the locker room.
“My wife made me put my shirt back on,” Healy said. “If it got on the news, it would be voted Top Five Dad Bods in Charlotte. She says I’m not allowed to take my shirt off with cameras around.”
Healy’s infectious energy resonates with his players.
“I was actually sweating almost as much in there as I was on the field,” said senior defensive end Alex Highsmith, who led Charlotte with seven tackles and two sacks. “Coach Healy wants us to celebrate when we win, and celebrate big plays. He was just talking about it earlier in meetings. When you get a taste of that, you’re going to want more. It felt good in the locker room, after that win. We’re going to keep striving for more. We’re going to keep striving for more. We’re going to see a lot more Club Charlottes this year, for sure.”
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