Head2Head: Charlotte at Marshall
Quarterbacks — Marshall
Marshall quarterback Isaiah Green takes over the starting duties after coming in during the Southern Miss game and seeing limited success in the Herd’s loss to the Golden Eagles. Green will have to take care of the football against a tough Charlotte defense. Charlotte quarterback Evan Shirreffs will take shots down the field in an attempt to keep a defense honest and open up the rushing attack.
Running backs — Charlotte
Charlotte running back Benny LeMay is a load. The 5-foot-9, 220-pound bulldozer has made a living this season off of broken tackles and churning ahead for yardage to aid in the 49ers’ ball-possession offense. Marshall’s rushing attack could get a boost this week if Tyler King is able to return after missing last week’s contest due to an injury.
Wide receivers — Marshall
Even though the Herd struggled to get receivers in rhythm in last week’s loss to Southern Miss, the talent at the wide receiver position is superior for the Herd. Tyre Brady will be eager to shake off a one-catch performance while Marcel Williams found his rhythm with a big game. Considering matchups, Obi Obialo may see some one-on-one situations as well. For Charlotte, Victor Tucker is a solid target with 46 receptions for 566 yards.
Offensive line — Marshall
Charlotte is averaging more rushing yards per game, but the 49ers also stay to the gameplan of consistently running the football and their 3.3 yards-per-carry average is exactly that ... average. The Herd offensive line needs to assert itself early and balance the offense to avoid being one-dimensional. That will be easier said than done against the 49ers, who possess one of the top rush defenses in the nation.
Defensive line — Marshall and Charlotte
The 49ers are extremely impressive at the point of attack and defensive end Alex Highsmith is one of the best in C-USA. Marshall has had several different players along the defensive front step up throughout the season, but expect Ty Tyler to have a big game, as well as Ryan Bee in the middle.
Linebackers — Marshall and Charlotte
Again, the front seven of both teams is a strength and Charlotte’s improvements this year have been based off of a strong defense that is third in FBS against the run and 12th overall in total defense. Juwan Foggie leads FBS in interceptions with six and Jeff Gemmell is also a big-time playmaker. Marshall’s Frankie Hernandez could be in line for a big game, given the 49ers’ offensive attack.
Secondary — Marshall
Malik Gant will bring his downhill run-stopping ability into the fray early and often on Saturday, and the Herd will look to win battles on the outside against a decent, but not great set of receivers. It wouldn’t be surprising to see Marshall force a couple interceptions on Saturday after getting the 49ers into long-distance third-down situations. The 49ers boast of safety Ben DeLuca, who has seemed to be everywhere against the Herd in recent years.
Special teams — Charlotte
This is an area where the 49ers have made amazing improvements under Brad Lambert this season. Punter Kyle Corbett bombed a 75-yard punt against Tennessee last week and kicker Jonathan Cruz is already one of Conference USA’s best as a freshman. This has enabled Charlotte to play the field position game that Lambert loves to employ. For Marshall, punter Robert LeFevre struggled a bit last week, so he’ll look for a bounce-back against Charlotte.
Getting it done — Marshall
It is the weekend of the “Memorial” game — ’nuff said. Marshall comes out with a mesh of frustration from last week and motivation from honoring the 75 and makes a bit of a statement. Herd wins it, 31-10.