Growth on the gridiron at UNC-Charlotte
The UNC Charlotte football program is more than halfway through their fifth season. It has been an interesting process, so let me refresh everyone’s memory.
After two 5-6 seasons in the Football Championship Subdivision(FCS), UNC Charlotte football looked as if they would make a smooth transition into the Football Bowl Subdivision(FBS). Some would agree the natural progression of a successful program was taking place following the first two seasons.
The mar-key highlights of the following 2 seasons were UNC Charlotte’s first ever Division 1 visitors against Georgia State in 2015 and going 4-7 overall, capping 3 Conference USA wins in 2016. Each year they were taking steps, looking better and better. However, the Forty Niners would take a few steps back in the 2016 offseason.
It must be noted that the Niners lost David Ogunjobi(Browns), Kalif Phillips(Packers), Austin Duke(Panthers) and Brandon Banks(Redskins), who all signed with NFL teams. DL David Ogunjobi was actually taken in the third round of the Draft. To compound that, the Niners lost twenty six seniors to graduation. Obviously this was not a healthy combination for continued progress.
Skipping ahead, coming into their eighth game of the season, Charlotte was averaging just 10 points a game and their opponents were coming in at 32.6 a game in FBS play. To make matters worse, the Forty-Niners lost their only FCS game to North Carolina A&T during a “rebuilding” year.
No further stats are needed.
The game against a 4-2 UAB team last weekend looked as if it was going to end up like every other game. UNC Charlotte was down 14-0 at halftime and after the Homecoming Presentations, the stadium was sparsely populated. However, through a few explosive throws to Trent Bostick and relentless running by Hassan Klugh, UNCC fought back and forced overtime.
They won on a sudden death two point conversion in the first overtime, the final score was 25-24. The winning play was a pass from running back Chris Montgomery to Quarterback Hassan Klugh.
This was the most cliche victory possible. It reminded me of when Boise State executed the Statue of Liberty against Oklahoma in the sugar bowl, which was followed by the running back Ian Johnson proposing to his girlfriend. Personally being in attendance, I could not believe what I was seeing.
No one expected the Niners to win, and somehow they pulled it out. Although, I have a strong feeling a lot less people cared about UNCC’s first win as opposed to Boise State’s.
Moving forward, UNC Charlotte can harp on this win. If we are benchmarking the 2016 season, things in reality are not much different. The Niners have a chance to capture some wins in matchups vs. the bottom half of Conference-USA. Considering all the factors I said earlier, maybe this program does have hope, making the most out of a depleted roster. Maybe our expectations are to high? Maybe we should fire Judy Rose? None of us actually know, we will just have to see on November 4th when the Niners return to action vs. a mediocre Old Dominion squad.