In a showcase game where the Mean Green were going to figure out if they were going to compete for something this season, against a good opponent that had its flaws, Seth Littrell’s boys came out and laid an egg.
The Mean Green were undisciplined defensively, poor offensively, and were dominated throughout the game. The “game” was really over midway through the second quarter by the time Marshall went up 35-7. The only bright spot was a blip — a 75-yard gallop from Deandre Torrey (finished with 179 yards thanks to that run and a 51-yarder later).
North Texas had a reasonable shot at competing in this one given Marshall’s struggles. Instead of a clever, engaged, hungry team we saw a poor squad that made mistakes early and often.
Seth Littrell and NT are 1-5, with zero wins against FBS competition. It is bad. What little crowd was present left early.
NT’s first half consisted of a stretch where they had just 17 total yards. The 75-yard score from Torrey represented a doubling of their yardage at another point. There were a series of fourth-down attempts that saw WRs run short of the line to gain. Aune slipped and fell at another point.
If this all seems an incoherent retelling of the game consider that it was a difficult watch. It was an un-entertaining night of football with a sour-faced coach dialing up fourth down attempts from 17, 26, 19, and 5 yards1 out but punting from 4. It sort of made sense. Why not? Down that much? Might as well. But it smacked of frustration and a lack of ideas.
A long-running criticism of this program under Littrell has been the inability for the team to come out prepared and looking like they have the superior coaching staff. This game was yet another indication. I have heard that Littrell simply doesn’t coach hard enough or hold anyone accountable. Maybe that is it.
Maybe it is as simple as not having a QB that can do the job for two seasons. NT has looked listless and terrible for three seasons, but had something like hope in Mason Fine’s last year. The offensive change, the QB rotation, the coaching staff movement all point to a level of uncertainty. Good offensive coaches change stuff all of the time. Delivering the goods is still necessary. NT has cratered on the scoring side. Aune was dropped for Ruder in the 4th. We are back to step one again.
The defense also regressed. They were gashed by the league’s second-best offense thoroughly. They have a talent in Rasheen Ali and seeing him get yards is one thing. Leaving WRs uncovered for six is quite another. They did both.
Whatever fight we saw the past few weeks was expressed as overaggressive penalties today. NT had more penalties than offensive yards for a while and half of that reason was the defense. The refs did not help things, but not being in the right place leads to penalties as well. It reminds me of last week, when NT was called for a soft pass interference on a play that was uncatchable. Giving the refs a chance to call a penalty is not doing your job well. That is coaching, however.
Speaking of coaching, that was another poor performance. Austin Aune is inconsistent and a lot of that is his own play but a good portion can be put on the staff. Who is coaching him? Who is helping him improve (or not)? Two seasons where Aune is firing 8 yards away from his targets. Jace Ruder comes in and does the same? How?
There are certain programs where QBs go and they all play well. NT hired Littrell to make NT one of those kinds of places. It briefly looked as if he was going to do that, finding a gem in Mason Fine in his first year. The big test was finding the next guy. Jason Bean and Austin Aune were a combined success, but failures as individuals. Jace Ruder was supposed to be the fix, and he has been poor and is now riding the bench (for now) behind Aune.
Add to that the weird snap issues. Manase Mose is firing them all over the place, still. He started the game like that. It was a bad omen. NT did not recover from that on that drive, or the rest of the game really.
I do not know if NT will ever recover without some change at the top.
NT takes on Liberty, who by some cruel twist of fate is really good. If this defense plays like it did today against a decent offense, they will get absolutely roasted. If this offense “plays” like they did here, they will continue to not do much of anything while killing our enthusiasm.
NT is 1-5. All hope is not quite lost but it looks grim.
I’m recalling this off the top. I may have it way off↩