SPORTS LIBRARY, Clemson, football
CLEMSON FOOTBALL: Tigers are Syracuse homecoming opponent

With the clock ticking toward August, the football season draws near. Today we look at Week 4, on Sept. 21, when Clemson will face the Charlotte 49ers.

Head coach

Will Healy, an Eddie Robinson Award winner as the National FCS Coach of the Year, was selected as the head football coach for the Charlotte 49ers late last year.

Healy, who had coached at Austin Peay State University for the last three years, is known for infusing energy and enthusiasm in his program, engineering one of the greatest turnarounds in college football history. A gifted recruiter, he has helped attract top five FCS recruiting classes in four of the last five years.

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Healy joined Austin Peay in 2016, and, according to Yahoo Sports, signed the FCS's number one recruiting class in 2017. He parlayed that talent into an 8-4 season that included a 7-1 mark in the Ohio Valley Conference. The Governors, who had gone 1-45 over the previous four seasons, snapped a 29-game losing streak, which was the longest in the nation. Three of the Governors' four losses came to FBS schools, and the team tied the school record for most wins.

The hiring of Healy drew the praise of Clemson head football coach Dabo Swinney.

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"What a home run hire," Swinney said. "This guy is as sharp as they come. He's about all the right things. He's going to be awesome. Those players will love him, and I really believe that he will build something special there in Charlotte.

"He's one of the bright young coaches in the business. But more importantly, he's a great person with a great family. Charlotte knocked it out of the park."

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49ers on offense

During his time at Austin Peay, Healy displayed an offensive IQ that was scary good.

Austin Peay broke a slew of records during the 2017 season, especially on the offensive side of the ball. The Govs finished sixth in the nation and set a school record with 3,105 yards rushing. They also set records for rushing touchdowns (32), total touchdowns (45), yards per rush (5.35), yards per game (387.2), total offense (4,646) and total points (327).

However, the man tasked with orchestrating the 49ers' offense will be Alex Atkins, who was formerly with the Tulane Green Wave.

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Atkins had been assistant head coach and offensive line coach for the past three years at Tulane. Last year, the Green Wave went 7-6 and defeated Louisiana-Lafayette 41-24 in the Cure Bowl. Last year, the Green Wave ranked 20th in the nation in rushing with 231.5 yards per game. In 2016, the rushing attacked ranked 26th in the nation.

49ers on defense

Healy named Brandon Cooper, who was his defensive coordinator at Austin Peay, as co-defensive coordinator and safeties coach.

Cooper has been on Healy's staff for the last three years at Austin Peay. Originally brought on as co-defensive coordinator and defensive backs coach in 2016, Cooper was promoted to defensive coordinator for the 2018 season. Together, they were part of the most dramatic turnaround in college football history as the Govs went from a 1-45 team over four seasons to a 13-10 mark over their final two seasons that included a 13-6 record vs. FCS brothers.

The early line

There is currently no line available for the Tigers-49ers meeting.

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Zach Lentz is a Clemson University alumnus who got his start working with the Tigers basketball team from 1999-2004. Now a resident of Orangeburg County, he reports on Clemson sports as a correspondent for The Times and Democrat. He also serves as a co-host of Solid Orange, seen at 11 p.m. Wednesdays on WACH FOX 57 in Columbia. He is editor of www.ClemsonMaven.io


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