Let us get some instant reaction:
It is important to remember that NT had crawled back in this game before completely falling apart in the second.
The Troy defense was vulnerable in spots but came up big when it counted — that is to say they took full advantage of the turnovers (5!) and killed the game off.
North Texas was chasing the game from the beginning when the defense allowed QB Brandon Silvers to waltz down the field with little pressure and score the first points. After Mason Fine fumbled the ball away they scored again.
NT battled back and got to 20 but only managed three more before the final face-saving TD to end things.
Somewhere in there North Texas put some nice plays together, but nothing like a complete drive and defintely not the crisp offense required to fulfill comeback dreams.
The first interception was unlucky, as the DB deflected the pass to Hunter Reese for the interception. Troy went three plays and scored.
The following drive North Texas went three-and-out.
Then the flood gates opened.
Ashton Preston was beat on a seam route by Tevaris McCormick for 59 yards and a score. Kishawn McClain was held by the play-action in front of him for half a second and that was all that Brandon Silvers needed to sneak the pass in between McClain and Preston and hit his man in stride.
It was 36-20 and NT only managed the FG on the next drive after Mason Fine fumbled again. It was one of the better drives of the game and it featured a couple of nice scrambles from Fine and two great catches from Kelvin Smith.
Still the possession ended with a field goal and that was the second death.
At about 7 minutes left in the game North Texas was at 3.3 yards per play. The defense was allowing big plays, but the second half offense was not helping.
Take away Colton McDonald’s 55-yard scoop and score and this offense only produced 16 points before the last drive of the game.
In whichever scenario you saw this game following, the ones in which there was a winning NT included a better offensive performance.
Mason Fine was sacked 9 times vs FAU and Troy had 5 in the first half of this one. The pressure was half line and half Fine. He began throwing off his back foot and that caused more than a few poor throws.
What it Means
There are no easy answers for when your team is blown out twice in two games. The offensive line has looked leaky, while the explosive offense has been stuck.
While the staff and players will give us coach speak, we can look to the fact that Jeff Wilson is on the sidelines. For as good as Nic Smith and Evan Johnson will be, Wilson is all over the record books for how good he is now.
With Wilson out, and Guyton struggling to regain his full, conference-destroying form from prior to the Hit, this offense has struggled.
These same symptoms were present against Rice — sacks, interceptions, poor drives. At the very least, it will provide the staff fodder for motivating the group next year.
Littrell talks about winning the bowl game as one of the goals. He failed. The team failed. There will be much to learn from this failure in an otherwise successful season.