College Sports

‘Back home again’ theme not working with Charlotte 49ers, Kansas State coaches

Charlotte 49ers football coach Brad Lambert was a four-year letterman at Kansas State, where he was a Wildcats defensive back in the 1980s. Saturday, Lambert and his team will visit No. 19-ranked Kansas State.
Charlotte 49ers football coach Brad Lambert was a four-year letterman at Kansas State, where he was a Wildcats defensive back in the 1980s. Saturday, Lambert and his team will visit No. 19-ranked Kansas State. WWW.MICZEKPHOTO.COM

Charlotte 49ers football coach Brad Lambert and his Kansas State counterpart, Bill Snyder, are downplaying the “Back home again” angle of the 49ers’ game against the Wildcats on Saturday in Manhattan, Kan.

Lambert and Charlotte defensive coordinator Matt Wallerstedt were starters at Kansas State in the 1980s, and Wallerstedt later was an assistant coach at the school.

But Lambert said Tuesday that the focus of his team’s game against the 19th-ranked Wildcats is what happens on the field.

“It’s really about what happens on the field,” Lambert said. “We have a chance to knock off a big team. It’s an opportunity to do something great. The focus is on our players and the game.”

Snyder, who is in his 26th year as coach and is an institution at the school (the stadium is named for him), arrived in Manhattan after Lambert had left.

“We talk every now and then, but not often, really,” Snyder said. “But I know he’s a good guy, a really good guy.”

Lambert, meanwhile, said he thinks it’s been at least two decades since he’s been at Kansas State for a football game, because he’s been busy on Saturdays as a coach.

“It’s changed a lot since then,” he said.

However, Lambert admitted, “It will be emotional. My dad will be there.”

It will mark the second time the 49ers have faced an FBS Top 25 foe. The other meeting didn’t go well, as Charlotte was beaten 70-14 by Louisville in its 2016 season opener.

“We’re really looking forward to it,” Lambert said. “They’re an explosive team, and it’s a tough environment. I think it will be the loudest stadium we’ve played in. It gets noisy there, with the student section right behind the bench.”

The Wildcats’ explosive offense is led by senior quarterback Jesse Ertz, who completed 10 of 16 passes for 333 yards and a school record-tying four touchdown passes Saturday in his team’s 55-19 victory over FCS Central Arkansas.

“They’re capable of some big plays, and we’ll have to be ready to stop that,” Lambert said.

But Snyder said he and the Wildcats also have respect for Charlotte quarterback Hassan Klugh, who ran for 101 yards Friday in the 49ers’ 24-7 loss at Eastern Michigan.

“The key to their offense is the quarterback, and he runs well,” Snyder said. “We had some difficulty with the (quarterback) scrambles last week (against Central Arkansas), and this guy can really run with it.”

Penalty Watch: Lambert said he and the team have taken a close look at the 49ers’ penalty problems last week. “We had about 100 yards in penalties, but they cost us another 100 yards of offense,” he said. “We’ve got to keep our composure.”

Win One for Brad: 49ers linebacker Karrington King said he and teammates have an extra reason for wanting to win Saturday – because it’s Lambert’s alma mater. “It wouldn’t be a lie,” he said with a laugh. “We hear a lot about Kansas (State) around here. We’d love to do well against them.”

Stopping the Option: Snyder said Kansas State had some problems Saturday in stopping Central Arkansas’ option plays in a 55-19 win. “We had some difficulty with that, and we’ve been working on it,” he said. “And their quarterback had something like a 77 percent completion rate. We need to stop that.”

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