The Charlotte 49ers lost their first four-star recruit, suffered their first shutout in five years of playing football, are 0-4 for the first time, and lost 28-0 to Georgia State, ranked as one of the worst teams in the Football Bowl Subdivision.
Now for the bad news.
The schedule probably gets tougher from here.
The 49ers’ remaining eight games are against Conference USA foes, against several of the league’s better teams and a couple other squads playing better than expected.
“We’ve got to look inside ourselves … look internally, to see what we can do to turn it around,” says Charlotte receiver Mark Quattlebaum, one of few bright spots Saturday with six receptions for 91 yards.
Here are five takeaways from the 49ers’ loss:
Where’d he go?
Robert Washington, the former Southlake Christian and East Gaston standout running back and the 49ers’ first four-star recruit, was not on the sidelines Saturday night. Afterward, reporters asked coach Brad Lambert about Washington, expecting to hear about an injury.
“He’s not on our team any longer,” Lambert said. “It’s between Robert and I, but he is no longer a member of our team.”
Butler High’s Benny LeMay got the majority of the carries in last week’s game against N.C. A&T, but Lambert had said the two would share time at running back.
There are kicking problems
Punter Arthur Hart had a big night, averaging nearly 45 yards a kick and punting three of 50 yards or more. But the placekicking situation is shaky.
None of the 49er kickers stood out in preseason, but Charlotte went with Nigel Macauley. He missed both field goal attempts Saturday night, although one was from 53 yards. With a sputtering offense, the 49ers need every point they can get.
They’re on to us
In the second and third games, opponents’ defensive backs recognized that Charlotte quarterback Hasaan Klugh was throwing an “out” pattern across the field. Once in each game, a defender picked off a pass for a touchdown.
Saturday night, Klugh’s passing drove the 49ers to the Georgia State 12 with 16 seconds left. On the next play, with a 49er receiver seemingly open in the end zone, Georgia State defensive back Bryan Williams, hidden by other players, spotted the developing pass and picked it off.
The score was deceiving
It was really a 14-0 game. The Panthers’ third touchdown came on a bizarre play following Charlotte’s block of a Georgia State field goal. The final score came in the closing seconds, when the Panthers chose to score a touchdown instead of taking a knee (something the 49ers might remember when they begin a four-year series with Georgia State in 2020).
But the Charlotte defense played quite well. Karrington King and Juwan Foggie each had 11 tackles, although the 49ers never sacked Panther quarterback Conner Manning.
Where’s the win?
Forget the bowl bid. When will the 49ers win a game? Charlotte travels Saturday to Florida International (7 p.m.) and lost by only a point to FIU next year. Other victory candidates are UAB (at home Oct. 21) and Florida Atlantic (Nov. 25).
But don’t give up hope. Charlotte was 1-3 at this point a year ago and fared well in conference play, going 3-5 and losing a pair of one-point games. All three of those conference victories came on the road, too.