CONCORD, NC (WCCB Charlotte) — Charlotte Head Coach Brad Lambert is looking for a quarterback who will take care of the ball.
Lambert did not officially name a starting quarterback for Saturday’s game against Florida Atlantic (0-3, 0-1), but said he and his coaching staff are taking a strong look at junior Lee McNeil to get the nod over Brooks Barden.
“We have got to value the ball on offense,” Lambert said. “You turn it over seven times, that’s why the score is the way it is.”
Barden is currently recovering from a laceration on his head where he needed a handful of stitches at halftime of Saturday’s 73-14 loss. However, Lambert said a look at McNeil to potentially start was already on the radar despite Barden’s injury.
“He really manages the game well,” Lambert said. “He’s a calm guy and played last year. He had a good fall camp but we made a decision coming out of August that we felt like the other guys were playing better. But Lee deserves an opportunity as well.”
McNeil went 2-1 as a starter in the final three games of 2014 for Charlotte (2-1, 0-1). Lambert added that Matt Johnson would remain as a change-of-pace quarterback.
The 49ers three quarterbacks combined to throw four interceptions in the loss at Middle Tennessee State. Johnson threw two with Barden and McNeil each throwing one pick. Charlotte’s offense has turned the ball over 13 times through three games in 2015 as compared to 25 turnovers for the entire 2014 season.
The team will be looking to turn the page from its most lopsided loss in the young program. The players said they made too many mistakes early in the game.
“We have to (play angry),” sophomore defensive back Devin Pearson said. “We did not execute well last game. We have to focus on our I’s as a unit.”
Saturday will be the team’s Conference USA home opener and first night game in school history. Florida Atlantic enters the game 0-3 with losses against Tulsa, Miami (FL) and Buffalo to start the season. The Owls lost to Buffalo last week, 33-15, despite racking up 490 yards of total offense.
“They can move the ball,” Lambert said. “They are pretty stout up front on defense and that will be a challenge for us. It’s our first conference game in Charlotte under the lights. Its going to be a great crowd, they are going to be with us and help us along the way. We need to go out and give them something to be loud about.”
Charlotte will look to hear more about junior wide receiver Austin Duke who was limited to just two plays against MTSU because of a back injury.
Saturday’s game can be seen on WCCB beginning at 7pm.