The Charlotte 49ers’ losing streak over two seasons reached a Football Bowl Subdivision-high 10 games Saturday in a 45-14 loss at Western Kentucky.
The news wasn’t all bad coming out of the loss, which dropped the 49ers to 0-7 this season, 0-3 in Conference USA. But, as has become the norm for Charlotte, there wasn’t much good, either.
Here are five takeaways from the loss to the Hilltoppers:
Running game gold
With starting tailback Benny LeMay out with a concussion, redshirt-freshman backup Aaron McAllister stepped in with a spectacular performance. McAllister, who began his career at Charlotte as a defensive back, ran for 157 yards and two touchdowns, including a school-record 89-yarder.
Whenever LeMay returns, the quick rise of McAllister could give the 49ers a much-needed 1-2 punch at the tailback spot.
Thin and thinner
It’s not being hyperbolic to say there’s no team in major college football that will struggle by losing several players to injury, illness or suspension more than the depth-shy 49ers. That’s what happened against Western Kentucky, when Charlotte played without LeMay, quarterback Hasaan Klugh (illness) and four defensive starters (one of whom, linebacker Jeff Gremmell, returned in the second half after serving a half-game suspension for targeting).
Senior linebacker Karrington King, the program’s all-time leading tackler, was lost with a dislocated knee in the second quarter. The injury could end King’s career, as well as further deplete Charlotte’s defense.
It’s been a tough year for Charlotte’s kickers, who have now missed six of their nine field-goal attempts. Nigel Macauley (2-of-7 for the season) was benched against Western Kentucky, but Jackson Vansickle’s only try was blocked. The 49ers’ last two field-goal attempts – one by Maccauley on Oct. 7 against Marshall, and Vansickle’s – have been blocked, which means the problems go deeper than their kickers’ feet.
The Hilltoppers took complete advantage of Charlotte’s outmanned defense. Western Kentucky, behind quarterback Mike White’s five touchdown passes, rolled up 627 yards in total offense. Much of White’s damage was done with medium-range passes over the middle, where Charlotte was playing with backup linebackers and defensive backs.
Favored? Probably not
Charlotte’s next game – Saturday against Alabama-Birmingham at Richardson Stadium – has been the rare one that the 49ers might have been favored to win. The Blazers are in the first season of resurrecting their program after it was dismantled for two years.
But UAB is 4-2, and upped its C-USA record to 2-1 Saturday with a 25-23 victory against Middle Tennessee.
David Scott: @davidscott14