|49ers eager to get on field after canceling game vs. Tar Heels|
|Home opener Saturday against Ga. State|
|Published Tuesday, September 22, 2020 5:40 pm|
|COURTESY CHARLOTTE ATHLETICS|
|Dom Shoffner is on track to start at quarterback for the Charlotte 49ers in the home opener Saturday against Georgia State.|
Their Sept. 19 game against North Carolina was canceled due to an offensive lineman testing positive for COVID-19. Due to contact tracing, several other linemen were placed in quarantine. Two players tested positive prior to the season opener against Appalachian State, and Charlotte didn’t have enough offensive linemen to compete over the weekend. However, coach Will Healy said they do have enough to compete against Georgia State (0-1) in the Sept. 26 home opener.
Charlotte practiced with five offensive linemen on Friday, and Healy will not play without seven eligible linemen on the roster. While players from last week’s results are still in quarantine, players who were not eligible for their game in Boone are in the clear. The goal was to play as close to a complete season as possible, but it has already been interrupted. Now the goal is to finish the season without any other cancellations.
Charlotte (0-1) anticipated starting junior transfer Dom Shoffner in place of injured junior quarterback Chris Reynolds against the Tar Heels. Healy declined to comment on the nature of Reynolds’ injury other than to say it is upper body to prevent opponents potentially targeting the specific area. Reynolds is still day-to-day, and “still questionable,” according to Healy. However, Healy does not expect any significant changes to the offense, regardless of who is at the helm. While there may be minor adjustments the goal is to find a player who fits the system, rather than designing a system to fit every player who is in that spot. Shoffner is more a of true dual threat than Reynolds and slightly bigger, but the two have similar playing styles. The latter enrolled at Charlotte in January, which gave him a little bit of time to work with the team in the spring prior to COVID-19 shutting campus down. Healy credits Shoffner with becoming a more accurate passer since his arrival on campus.
“What we do with Chris Reynolds is who I want to be on offense,” Healy said.
Players had to wait an extra week to seek redemption after their 35-20 loss to App State. Junior wide receiver Victor Tucker said they are anxious to put what he called a “devastating feeling” behind them having to endure a loss their first week and canceling against nationally ranked North Carolina.
“After having last week’s game canceled, everyone is eager to get back out on the field and get that feeling out of our mouth from the App State week,” he said. “I’m hungry. I’m ready to get to it.”
Said junior linebacker Tyler Murray: “It was hard for us to take that we weren’t going to play last week, but we responded in the right way, using that time to focus on ourselves, and the things that we need to work on and how to execute.”
Murray sat out last season after transferring from Troy but has already made an immediate impact. He earned Conference USA defensive player of the week after his 14 tackles and involvement in Charlotte’s three turnovers against App State with a fumble recovery, interception and forced fumble.
Murray is also familiar with Georgia State from his time in the Sun Belt Conference with Troy. Saturday will be his first game suiting up at home for Charlotte.
“We’re going to bring our own juice,” Murray said.
Gov. Roy Cooper announced today that beginning Oct. 2, stadiums with over 10,000 seats could operate at 7% capacity. This does not indicate whether or not an exception will be made for parents during the Georgia State game on Sept. 26.
“I feel a lot more optimistic than I did a week ago,” Healy said. “There are still some things that need to be ironed out, but we’re moving in a very positive direction.”
Charlotte’s remaining home dates are: Oct. 17 vs. Florida International, Oct. 24 vs. Texas El Paso and Nov. 28 vs. Western Kentucky.
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