Football

Charlotte 49ers coach Brad Lambert: We’ll stick with 2-QB rotation

Charlotte 49ers quarterback Brooks Barden will start Saturday against Middle Tennessee State.
Charlotte 49ers quarterback Brooks Barden will start Saturday against Middle Tennessee State. WWW.MICZEKPHOTO.COM

Charlotte 49ers football coach Brad Lambert said Tuesday that future opponents can expect to face a tandem quarterback system.

Lambert said the 49ers will launch their Conference USA history Saturday night at Middle Tennessee with a look “pretty similar to last week.”

“Brooks will start,” Lambert said of redshirt freshman Brooks Barden, who started in Saturday’s 34-10 victory over Presbyterian. “Matt (Johnson) came off the bench and did well.”

The 49ers sometimes alternated Barden and Johnson on the same series against Presbyterian. While Johnson had a better first half, Barden was 8-for-8 passing in the second half. Lambert said Barden took “a terrific hit” on the game’s first play but kept playing.

“He is tough,” Lambert said.

Lambert said the 49ers’ platoon system is similar to what he saw as an assistant coach at Wake Forest, when the Demon Deacons played Duke. “Coach Cutcliffe used it at times at Duke, and they did it well,” Lambert said.

Lambert said he liked the rhythm the 49ers established last week against Presbyterian with the two quarterbacks.

A ‘special’ concern: Lambert said, “One critical piece we’ll need to do well in is special teams” against Middle Tennessee. “It’s important to have our kicking game doing well.”

The Blue Raiders have averaged 4.5 blocked kicks a season over the past six years. They did not block a kick in last Saturday’s 37-10 loss at Alabama but had a blocked field goal in the season-opening 70-14 rout of Jackson State.

Injury update: 49ers officials say starting offensive lineman Jamal Covington might miss this week’s game. He is suffering from a lower leg injury. But offensive lineman Thomas La Bianca, injured in the opener against Georgia State, is expected to return. Wide receiver Corey Nesmith Jr. is “day to day,” Lambert said.

49ers blackout: Saturday’s 7 p.m. game at Middle Tennessee will not be televised, and it probably will be the only Charlotte game not televised this season. Of the other eight remaining games, five will be carried by WCCB-TV, two by Fox sports affiliates, and one by CBS Sports. No plans have been announced for the Nov. 21 game at Kentucky, but it is expected to be televised.

More than two victories? Most national college football experts picked the 49ers in preseason to win one game this season – probably pointing to last Saturday’s contest against Presbyterian, Charlotte’s only FCS opponent this season. But the 49ers are 2-0, and Presbyterian coach Harold Nichols came away impressed.

“Charlotte is a big, physical football team, and they will definitely win their fair share of games,” Nichols said. “They’re a very talented group.”

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