North Texas football is entering Week 2 with a 1-1 record, and about to play the third game. Yes, it is weird. This week’s opponent is FCS Texas Southern, alma mater of Barbara Jordan, Megan Thee Stallion, Michael Strahan, and others. The Tigers do not bode a major challenge and the expectation is that the Mean Green should pick a score, and pick their leading rusher and be done. That is to say, evaluating this game is about North Texas and not really about Texas Southern.
A good number of people are wondering how much time Grant Gunnell will have in this one. If we had our way, we would give him a half. Our directive to Austin Aune, current starting quarterback, would be to “play your way” onto the bench. That is, play so well and put the team up so far that his job is done and he can get comfortable for the second half. That should earn Gunnell some third quarter time where he can reasonably pass the ball within the normal cadence of the offense and we can simultaneously see what we have and also develop what we have.
Meanwhile, the run game should go off with Adaway, Johnson, and Ragsdale likely to hit a big one early. The offensive line should have its way with the Tiger DL and the focus will be on execution. Last week Prairie View had three 100+ yard rushers. Everyone should be eating good this week. A great performance will not only be about showcasing the superior talent, but about staying focused on the details. North Texas will be able to run on this team, but we do not want to see holding, false-starts, and poor blocking hidden by superior tackle-breaking (by Adaway or someone else). We want to see the OL dominate, excuse assignments and also demonstrate their superiority in talent.
Some key numbers should be: 250+ yards rushing, Austin Aune untouched.
Ideally we would like to see Maclin, Shorter, and the others get loose deep. They have shown some things in the first two games, but few tosses deep. From what we’ve seen, defenses are keeping some things in front of them and Aune is taking what is available. There have been some called shots, but nothing crazy. There should be some time to throw in this one, and NT should be able to get someone loose behind the secondary.
The rest of the offense should be about execution. Aune has to put the ball in front of his guys, and receivers have to focus on their coaching points: footwork, eye-discipline, and catching the ball.
The secondary was torched last week. In El Paso, there were some guys beat in one-on-one scenarios. Phil Bennett has had to do some loud coaching on the sidelines with each of his cornerbacks. John Davis is hurt, and Texada has stepped in and performed relatively well. TSU didn’t do much offensively vs Prairie View — just 53 yards passing — and the focus in this one is about technique and discipline. Texas Southern may not be able to take full advantage of poor technique, but that is no excuse to be out of position or have poor eye-discipline.
The defensive line should be able to win the line of scrimmage and get big stats. It is easy to lose focus, and aim for sacks or big plays and forget gap responsibility. Again, this is about discipline.
The bulk of the coaching is done already. Seth Littrell and staff no doubt have seen they have the more talented team, and the game plan is about making sure they take full advantage of that fact. Nick Sabin is famous for not letting his teams get complacent, and this is the time for Littrell to tap into that vein. If Texas Southern cannot make the team pay for mistakes, the staff needs to do that work. There cannot be any drop off from the standard.
Now, you may be snorting and wondering if Seth Littrell is capable of having a standard etc, and so on. Littrell is very good against overmatched teams. That fact may be why there is little excitement about this weekend (reportedly). NT winning vs Texas Southern does not tell us much about the state of the program. We want to see an outstanding performance but if NT wins through the strength of Adaway shaking off 5 and 6 tackles despite poor blocking execution, it doesn’t really do much.
The book on Littrell is that he struggles with the big games, the superior opponents, and the important moments. This game will not tell us much.
The Game Day Operations Staff
The reports are that the parking was a shambles. The well-to-dos in the club boxes had to wait an extra 40 seconds to scan their passes, and someone was wearing an OU hat. The horror. MGN was in attendance and parked in the blue lot with ease, even though the attendant said his scanner was broken and was radio-ing for help. The food was given, the drinks were cold, and the lines were not super long. We did see the OU hat 1. We shook our head but my experience was not ruined.
The north scoreboard was showing some mythical players, but it was behind me and didn’t ruin the experience too much. We can see where it would be annoying. The athletic department sent out a survey to gather information about the experience. We suspect it will be addressed this weekend. The squad should be running up the score (crosses fingers) and so there will be plenty of time to focus on the headgear of the various concessionaires.
NT are 35 point favorites and so we feel comfortable with a 37-0 win.
There was a guy with a UNC hat, but we think no one really considers them a school, but like a brand. No one took any pictures of that guy ↩