Last week, it was penalties. This time, turnovers cost the Charlotte 49ers dearly, with mistakes resulting in a pair of Kansas State touchdowns Saturday in the 19th-ranked Wildcats’ 55-7 romp over Charlotte.
Kansas State’s Kendall Adams had the kind of day a defender dreams of, returning a 30-yard interception for a first-quarter touchdown and then running a fumble back 46 yards for six points in the second quarter.
“Kansas State – that’s a really, really good football team, and there’s a reason they’re No. 19 in the country,” 49ers’ coach Brad Lambert said.
Here are five takeaways from the 49ers’ only meeting this season with a Power 5 conference school:
Kansas State planned well
The Wildcats apparently planned well for defending Charlotte quarterback Hasaan Klugh. Speaking of the pick six he made off Klugh in the first quarter, Adams said, “Coach Hayes (defensive coordinator Tom Hayes) told us what the quarterback liked to do in certain situations, so we kind of had that planned. I just sat on the route, saw him throw it, broke on it, and ran it in.”
Penalty situation improved
The 49ers were hurt badly by penalties in their season-opening 24-7 loss at Eastern Michigan, and Lambert said last week he planned to focus on that problem. The message apparently was received.
Charlotte was whistled for seven penalties, totaling 50 yards. Most of the infranctions were minor. “I thought we did a better job with penalties today,” Lambert said.
Ground game needs a jolt
“We’ve got to be able to run the ball better,” Lambert said.
The 49ers totaled 124 yards rushing, for a 3.9-yards-per-carry average. In their first two games, Charlotte has been outgained on the ground 430-276. The lack of success on first- and second-down rushes is putting Klugh in a big hole on many third-down situations.
“You put yourself behind the chains, and you put Hasaan in some bad down and distances.”
Kicking game was strong
Nigel Macauley didn’t get a chance to try any field goals, but his two kickoffs averaged 65 yards, and one was a touchback. Even better, with the 49ers forced to punt frequently, kicker Arthur Hart had a big day. Hart punted eight times for a 41.8-yard average, including a 67-yard kick.
Next: No certain win
Some fans will look at the schedule and see an FCS opponent in the 49ers’ next game as a certain win. Charlotte’s home opener is at 6 p.m. Saturday against N.C. A&T.
But the Aggies are ranked No. 21 in FCS, are the defending Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference champions, and have started the season very strongly. They have outscored their first two opponents 100-3.
Ask East Carolina about playing a ranked FCS opponent. The Pirates lost their home opener last week by 17 points to James Madison.