College Sports

Why Middle Tennessee is daring Charlotte 49ers, QB Hasaan Klugh to put it in the air

Charlotte 49ers quarterback Hasaan Klugh (7) averages 184.4 yards in total offense.
Charlotte 49ers quarterback Hasaan Klugh (7) averages 184.4 yards in total offense.

Middle Tennessee’s Blue Raiders figure they know how to slow down the Charlotte 49ers’ offense on Saturday at Richardson Stadium. And by saying that, they might have thrown a little motivation at 49ers junior quarterback Hasaan Klugh.

“Stopping him from running is going to be really big,” Blue Raiders safety Jovante Moffatt said of Klugh this week. “I mean as far as his passing, I think the (defensive backs) can hold on. I just feel that stopping him from running is going to be the main key.”

Klugh, who will play Saturday after injuring his ankle last week at Old Dominion, has made his reputation around Conference USA as a quarterback who is more dangerous with his legs than his arm. Klugh averages 184.9 yards per game in total offense (which ranks eighth in the league), with 58.9 coming on the ground.

Klugh’s numbers are at the low end of the C-USA spectrum, his 125.5 yards per game ranking 10th in the 14-team league. His pass efficiency rating of 88.7 is well outside the top 10.

Hasaan Klugh, who will play Saturday after injuring his ankle last week at Old Dominion, has made his reputation around Conference USA as a quarterback who is more dangerous with his legs than his arm.

Consistency has been an issue with Klugh and the 49ers (1-8, 1-4 C-USA). But while has yet to have a 200-plus yard game this season, he has had his moments showing off his arm. He threw three touchdown passes against N.C. A&T and hit Trent Bostick with a beautifully thrown 68-yard scoring pass that helped fuel a comeback against Ala.-Birmingham, the 49ers’ only victory of the season.

But the shifty Klugh has proven to most effective with his feet. He ran for 140 yards against UAB and caught -- not threw -- a game-winning two-point conversion pass in overtime. That’s the kind of thing that has Middle Tennessee coach Rick Stockstill concerned.

He’s so dynamic.

Middle Tennessee coach Rick Stockstill on 49ers quarterback Hasaan Klugh

“He’s a really outstanding player,” Stockstill said. “He’s really dynamic with his feet. You watch the UAB game, he had a huge part of winning that game for them. He’s so dynamic. We’ve got to do a good job of staying in our rushing lanes where it is a pass play. We’ve got to stay and make sure we don’t give up and edge where he can break outside, get in space and beat you with his feet. Their run game, their read-zone option game; he’s really good.”

So, the Raiders (4-5, 2-3) seem to be daring Klugh to pass, or at least hope to force him into a position where he will need to.

184.4 Yards per game in total offense by Klugh, eighth in Conference USA

“If we can get them in some longer third-down situations, second-and-long where you kind of put them in a one-dimensional situation, I think that’ll behoove us,” Stockstill said. “It will give us a chance to give us an advantage there to maybe limit some of the options that they have in the run-pass game with him.”

If that happens, 49ers coach Brad Lambert hopes Klugh and the rest of his offense is up for it. That has seldom been the case this season, including last week, when Charlotte lost 6-0 against Old Dominion. Before Klugh was injured in the fourth quarter, he had only passed for 62 yards and rushed for 30.

“We need to focus in on those moments,” Lambert said. “When we have a chance to catch a ball, we need to come down with it. That gets our rhythm going offensively. It’s the little things where we have to be focused on those moments and execute what we call. When you have the opportunity, you need to take advantage of it.”

David Scott: @davidscott14

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