North Texas went to Lynchburg, VA and took care of business.
Not all handling of business is beautiful or perfect. North Texas had to find a way to dominate without a crisp passing game and they did so. Loren Easly had 177 yards and is the clear number one back after four weeks.
The Mean Green did what good teams do: they lapped the competition when the time demanded it. Let us be clear: there was no point where NT did not look like the better team nor was there a time where they did not control things.
Liberty was always going to give NT its best shot, and they did. The problem for the Flames was that they had nothing else. Yes, North Texas is good enough now that they can have a slightly off game passing the ball and not look like it. They can also turn to a run game and end things.
Liberty is a transitionary FBS school, and in the second half they looked like FCS Lamar of 2017. Then, NT turned to the run game as the pass game struggled and dominated.
The run game completely dominated the second half and the rain and delay took away some of the passing numbers. Mason Fine tried to force a couple of passes to Mike Lawrence that were off, but NT’s pass game found lots of success early. Rico Bussey, Jr beat his man badly early for the first score. Jaelon Darden made a move on the second.
The run game showed good things early, and as the rain came close and both teams eschewed TV timeouts for the benefit of expediting things, NT relied on the run game to end things to great success.
NT’s offensive efficiency has still been something like an issue but nothing to be overly concerned about. The talent is there, and in every moment approaching importance, NT has responded well.
That is to say, NT got out to a great start in this one and any time Liberty looked like challenging the offense responded with a haymaker TD blow.
The defense was outstanding yet again. We knew the Flames were going to be the best offensive team faced thus far and they showed as much in the handful of quality drives they put together.
NT showed they were the best defense Buckshot Calvert and company saw also, holding the Flames to 344 yards and only 222 passing. Buckshot struggled in the rain, but more so with the hits and the pressure placed on him by the linebackers and defensive line.
NT bottled up most of everything and the few times Liberty challenged they needed nearly everything to go perfectly.
Khairi Muhammad grabbed another interception and NT leads the nation in the category. This unit is playing outstandingly well.
Early, Liberty tried some of the horizontal attacks that worked so well against ODU and Army and NT’s speed was too much. Eventually the Flames had to try some downfield stuff and had a couple of successful attempts but overall they did not have the kind of consistency that can challenge this group right now.
I’m kidding, of course. NT missed an extra point. The ball was slippery and that likely played some part in it. Liberty’s punter and kicker had a rough go of it, also. Kentworthy punted well, and NT covered the kicks well.
What Does It Mean?
North Texas is 4-0 for the first time since 1966. Non-conference play is over, and NT came out of it perfect and added a whole lot of casual fans. This month could not have been much better.
It is not over yet, and La Tech comes to town for the biggest clash to date.
The Bulldogs of Louisiana Tech. Last year North Texas solidified their hold on the West division by winning on the road in Ruston, beating a favored Bulldog team. Tech has a good squad and the kind of depth that can challenge NT.
The MGN Season Preview circled this game as a bellwether for the rest of the league season. The loser will be chasing the winner for the remainder of the year.
J’Mar Smith has the kind of weapons that can make things tough. WR Teddy Veal and Adrian Hardy can win 1v1 battles and seeing them go man-vs-man against North Texas’ outstanding corners Nate Brooks and Kemon Hall will be fun.