Come Monday morning, two days after the Charlotte 49ers’ football team will have played its final game this season, Brandon Banks said he isn’t sure what he’ll do.
Banks, a redshirt senior defensive end, will likely wake up at 5 a.m., before leaving for the Judy W. Rose Football Center, just like he’s done almost every day for the past five years.
Not until then will he realize his college career is over, he said.
“It’s going to be real tough,” he said. “It’s going to be a shell shock.”
Until then, Banks and the other 18 fifth-year seniors who helped compose the 49ers’ first recruiting class will look to place the finishing touches on the program they’ve helped build when they visit Texas-San Antonio Saturday.
“We want to go out on a winning note in San Antonio,” coach Brad Lambert said. “If we go out and finish 4-4 in this league, it’s going to be really critical in the next step toward building our program. It will be a direct correlation to the foundation these guys have laid.”
Charlotte (4-7, 3-4 Conference USA) entered the season with a primary goal of reaching a bowl. That dream was dashed with this past week’s loss to Middle Tennessee.
But after going 0-8 in conference play a season ago — its first at the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) level — a .500 mark in conference play would be seen as another sign of progression.
“Just because we didn’t reach our main goal doesn’t mean we can’t continue to strive for greatness,” said redshirt senior receiver Austin Duke. “That’s what we’re trying to do here is just strive for greatness in every opportunity that’s possible.”
49ers injury report
The 49ers’ secondary will be depleted against the Roadrunners, as starting cornerbacks Terrance Winchester (shoulder) and Anthony Covington (spine) won’t play. Lambert said Covington’s tests returned normal after he left Saturday’s game on a stretcher following a big hit midway through the fourth quarter.
Along the offensive line, Charlotte will be without redshirt sophomore Nate Davis (toe) for the second straight game. Jamal Covington, the 49ers’ starting left tackle, is day-to-day after re-aggravating his back injury against Middle Tennessee. Redshirt sophomore Chris Brown is also listed day-to-day as he remains in concussion protocol.
Meanwhile, defensive tackle Larry Ogunjobi and running back Kalif Phillips are expected to play after early exits from last week’s game.
About the Roadrunners
After defeating Middle Tennessee on Nov. 5, Texas-San Antonio (5-6, 4-3) entered the final three weeks of the season needing one more win to become bowl eligible for the first time in program history. The Roadrunners have since lost to Louisiana Tech and Texas A&M, making Saturday’s game a must win if they hope to play in the postseason.
A season ago, San Antonio beat Charlotte 30-27 in overtime on the 49ers’ senior day.
The Roadrunners’ offensive line has allowed 3.64 sacks per game, which ranks 125th of 128 Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) teams. This could potentially bode well for a Charlotte defense that averages just one sack per game.