It was a hot and humid August morning in Charlotte, but the 49ers took to the turf for their first scrimmage of the 2013 preseason.
“We pushed it to as close to noon as we could,” said Brad Lambert, head coach of the Charlotte 49ers football team. “Get a little heat, let the guys get a feel for the stadium and all that.”
After playing in a full scrimmage in the 92-degree North Carolina heat, the team wasn’t off the hook to leave Jerry Richardson Stadium. They were expected to quickly shower, get dressed in uniform and get back on the field. It was media day.
One by one, the 49ers exited the field house and trekked across the field to take their place in the stands for the official team photo.
Sporting green jerseys and white pants, not all of the athletes were wearing cleats. The typical sandals-and-socks look was rocked by a few. To most, footwear doesn’t speak volumes. To others, it’s a testament to how comfortable the team has become with each other.
“It’s just really fun to be out here with all of them,” said Daniel Blitch, a redshirt junior and offensive lineman.
“They come and really work hard everyday, and try to get better and try to prove themselves.”
Blitch is one of the few Charlotte 49ers with college football experience. He played in three games and 11 snaps during his time at Wake Forest.
“I stepped away from Wake and then, I knew Lambert was here, and the community in Charlotte was really great from what I’d heard,” said Blitch.
“I came down here to check it out and see what it’s about, and when I came here, I fell in love with all the coaches and the facilities, and just the atmosphere.”
For Marshall transfer and halfback C.J. Crawford, college football experience has forced him into the “team leader” category.
“Hopefully we can just show them how to play and not get down when something bad goes wrong,” said Crawford.
For Crawford, adjusting to the demands of being a team leader has taken more time than others like Blitch.
“I came from a team that I didn’t have to be [a leader], but here I have to step it up. I’m adjusting to it now.”
Crawford played in 12 games during his 2012 season at Marshall.
Saturday’s scrimmage was closed, but Coach Lambert appeared satisfied with how his sometimes-questionable offense performed.
“When we did some different situations today, our offense executed really well,” said Lambert.
In regards to the mistakes that he’s seen in his offensive team, “You can’t make those mistakes and drop passes and kill drives, so that’s the thing they’ve just got to continue to work on.”
For Coach Bruce Tall, defensive coordinator, consistency is the key to success.
“Defensively, we’re a work in progress,” said Tall. “We have our high moments, but we’ve got to get to a more consistent, playing at a higher level consistently.”
The 49ers have not played another team yet, so consistency against opposing teams is unknown at this point.
“The guys practice for a whole year, but have played against each other so much that they know what we’re doing; we know what they’re doing. So now we need to see someone, go after someone else,” said Tall.
With only a few weeks left until the first game of the inaugural season, the Charlotte 49ers have not carved their starting lineup in stone.
“We’ve got another scrimmage next Saturday where we can really start to narrow it down,” said Lambert.
With the clock ticking and kickoff getting closer and closer with each passing day, Lambert hopes these last scrimmages will help fizzle out some of the kinks before Aug. 31 when the 49ers host the Campbell Camels.
“We’ve got to get in a game mode from an execution standpoint, and the guys have to understand that when you make a mistake in practice, the scoreboard’s not on.”