This whole thing is about entertainment. Live sporting events are superior to scripted drama because of the element of surprise. You really *never* know what will happen. Most of the time, you have an idea of what will happen, however. There have been college football games since 1869, and we have seen just about everything possible. That is how we knew North Texas was going to handle business in this game, and the real question was not if it was going to be a win or loss but how well they would perform.
Is it snobbery? Perhaps. Is it experience? Probably.
You can feel however you want about this game. NT got some easy touchdowns, and if you had a kid there that likes to see easy touchdowns, it was fun and good entertainment. For the experience viewer of college ball, there was little drama. There were some questions, however.
The secondary got roasted for a bit, and while the full roster of Texas Southern Tigers probably can’t walk into Denton and take any jobs, there are maybe one or two guys that wouldn’t look out of place. 1 The Tigers were befuddling the NT secondary, and put up 428 yards of offense. You might remember that Houston Baptist did something similar two seasons ago, and there was concern that was well-founded. That defense ended up as the nation’s worst in a few categories and I do not feel good about this one’s chances at dethroning 2013 as one of the best ever.
Jon Davis is hurt, and will be out a while. Is he that important that he held the entirety of the secondary together? Apparently. UTEP got loose behind these guys before he was out, so it is questionable. So far all three opponents have had success tossing the ball around. While the rest of the schedule is not filled with future Tom Bradys or any Air Raiders, there are plenty of teams that will happily pass and catch if we will leave them in ten yards’ space.
Friend of the site and gomeangreen.com contributor Billy Sierra wondered about the lack of playmaking in the secondary. Under Troy Reffett, NT had real success finding quality secondary players or improving existing ones. Nate Brooks, Kemon Hall, Eric Jenkins all come to mind immediately. The problem with those years was the reliance on the corners’ ability to win one-on-one matchups while the pressure was supposed to get home to the QB. When it worked, it was beautiful, and when it did not, it looked ridiculous.
Defensive Coordinator Phil Bennett lost his main pass rushers to UCLA, and has replaced them with solid-if-unspectacular guys. The coverage behind has been inconsistent, seemingly confused when playing matchup zones, and undisciplined, or overmatched when playing straight man. UTEP’s dudes got loose, SMU’s danced around, and TSU’s found open space. Not good.
Barring dramatic improvement, this is how it will be. No one will get faster, but perhaps they can be better acclimated to the speed of the game (new guys) and demands of the coach (everyone).
Meanwhile, Austin Aune threw too high for our liking, but ended the game with big numbers. He threw a couple of beautiful tosses to Maclin, and Shorter, and did what was asked. Old Aune is not as crisp as we want him to be, but he can do enough to win a game for you. When UTSA won the recruiting battle for Frank Harris that may have just defined the last four years for these two teams. One program was carried to a league title, and the other is still looking for a game-changer.
The run game opened up big holes for Adeyi, and Oscar Adaway scored even if he found it tough to get open lanes. We can complain that the run game wasn’t as neat as it maybe should have been, but they put up 350 yards rushing and the talent showed.
Last year NT climbed out of the basement via the run game, and it will need to rely on that the rest of the way. The pass game has talent (Bush, Shorter, Ward, etc) but the winning yards have to come from the run game. Adaway is a talent, and Adeyi can hit home runs. Ragsdale and Johnson were out (no word why) but the expectation is is that one or both will keep stepping up and stepping in.
The Mean Green are in a middle space, where fan enthusiasm is low, and there is little in the way of immediate changes that can turn that up. Win against UNLV and Memphis? Okay, that puts them in a good spot for bowl contention but having seen Seth Littrell’s bowl record (0-5, average score ~44-23, and the all-time worst margin of loss in three different bowls) you can see why no one is very excited about that possibility.
Wins are what is required. Lots of wins. The slow grind of winning back the fan support is ugly, hard work, but the kind of thing that is necessary. Fans are willing to endure it, wither with Littrell or with the next person, but it must be done.
Beating Texas Southern is a given, and blowing them out is fine, but the road to enthusiasm is paved with trophies, folks.
Considering NT accepted a handful of FCS transfers this offseason↩