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2016 University of Louisville football preview: Charlotte 49ers

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The Cards have a Thursday night opener against the 49ers.

Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

Charlotte 49ers

2015 Record: 2-10

Wins: Georgia State, Presbyterian College

Losses: MTSU, FAU, Temple, Old Dominion, USM, Marshall, FIU, UTSA, Kentucky, Rice

Season Recap

Things got off to a pretty good start for the 49ers, with a narrow victory over Georgia State and a two touchdown win over Presbyterian. Then, things went bad. Really bad. After their 34-10 win over Presbyterian, Charlotte would lose its final 10 games of the season to finish out with a 2-10 record. Of those 10 losses, only 3 were within 10 points.

Coach Resume

Brad Lambert (12-22) was hired to be the first head coach in program history (the 49ers debut season was 2013) on March 1st, 2011. Despite the 49ers first season being in 2013, they made it to the FBS level quickly, reaching that goal in 2015 by joining C-USA.

It's an interesting move by Charlotte to hire Brad Lambert, as he has no head coaching experience prior to taking the 49ers job. He previously held assistant coaching jobs at schools such as Marshall, Georgia, and Wake Forest. If Lambert is able to start getting the 49ers competitive in the C-USA, that will be a heck of an achievement to build a program from nothing and compete in an FBS conference.

Returning Starters

Charlotte will return 9 starters on offense and another 9 starters on defense. Among those starters are 3 quarterbacks who started a game last season (more on that below). On the defensive side, starting nose tackle Larry Ogunjobi lead the conference in tackles for loss (14.5), while returning defensive back Terrance Winchester tied for the league lead with four interceptions.

Returning QB

The 49ers are returning three quarterbacks who had significant playing time in 2015. Only problem with that, they combined to throw 23 interceptions.

To add to the quarterback carousel, there is the potential for six total quarterbacks in competition for the starting job. With incoming transfer Kevin Olsen, sophomore Hasaan Klugh, and freshman Joe Thompson. However, Thompson is expected to take a redshirt this year. Brad Lambert is hoping to get his QB situation solidified as soon as possible.

Biggest Problem

The defense is going to need to shore up a few things this year. Second year defensive coordinator Matt Wallerstedt was able to improve the defense's yards per game from 479.3 in 2014, to 419 in 2015. He will have a good solid foundation to work with as his defense returns 9 starters from a year ago.

Biggest Strength

The run game is going to be a point of emphasis this year. Not only because the quarterback situation is still under construction, but they also have a legitimate playmaker at running back. Kalif Phillips earned second-team all-conference honors while rushing for 961 yards. Phillips was on pace to rush for over 1,000 yards, but knee injury sidelined him for the last three games of the season. He rushed for 5 touchdowns and averaged 5.06 YPA.

4 Players To Remember

Kaliff Phillips-The senior running back will be the primary focus of an offense that is still trying to figure out its quarterback situation.

Austin Duke-The leading receiver from 2015, Duke had 53 receptions for 5 touchdowns and averaged 10.08 YPC.

Nick Cook-Senior linebacker that lead the team in tackles last year with 73. Of those 73 tackles, 50 of them were solo tackles.

Terrance Winchester-Played in all 12 games and lead the team in interceptions with 4.