NT is about a third of the way through the season and so it is a good time to get a feel for how this team will project the rest of the way. NT opened with a good mix of non-conference foes — an FCS, a Power 5, and a fellow G5 member on the come-up. Add to that a conference (and division) opponent that is going to be really good very soon.
2016: 24.8 PPG in 13 games, highest score 42 (in OT vs Rice) 2017: 37.8 PPG in 4 games, highest score 59
You might remember the 2016 team scored 38 against Marshall but that included a defensive touchdown and Mason Fine was only 18/28 for 206 yards. He’s exceeded that yardage total three times this season already.
Mason Fine in 2016 total
155/261 (59.4%) for 1572 (6.0) 6 TDS 5 INTS 113.74 rating
Mason Fine through four games this year:
78/123 (63.4%) for 1076 (8.7) 9 TDS 3 INTs 156.17 rating
Folks, that is improvement. A combination of things has helped. Jalen Guyton is the deep threat that we hoped Tee Goree would be, while Mike Lawrence and Kelvin Smith have been the Kenny Buyers and well, Kelvin Smith we hoped for.
Really, Mason Fine has simply improved. It is amazing what one season and one offseason can do to improve a player’s performance.
And lest you think it was all during the SMU blowout — he tossed for 296 and 3 TDs with 2 INTs while down 15+, which is in total about a third of his production but also has 433 yards, 2 TDS and 0 picks when +/-7 or tied.
There are various posts and screen grabs floating on twitter right now that point to the fact that NT is top-17 in yards per game and yards per play. These are good thumbnail metrics to gauge the offensive production. The best rule of thumb metric is yards per play, and the more advanced stats from football outsiders and the like really give you a better idea.
You do not need to follow those closely to get the sense that this offense is better. I mean if you watch the games you can see Mason Fine with time, Jalen Guyton running deep, and Jeff Wilson running free. Seth Littrell came in here selling offense and that was sorely missing last year. It is here, now folks. NT has played four games and things are looking good.