FRISCO — It is Christmas season and people are unwrapping gifts. You pull away the wrapping paper to reveal whatever is inside. With each tear you get a little more sense of what the prize will be. This season was a lot like that. North Texas finished 7-7, and with each week we shown a little more of what the program had. There was some ugly (SMU, UAB, Memphis, UNLV, CUSA CC) and great (FAU, Tech, WKU) and good (UTSA part 1, Tx Southern, first half of the bowl) and bad (Rice, the second half of the bowl).
North Texas was frustrating. They were fun. They were explosive. They were limited. They were stout. They were a sieve. They won the first half vs Boise St and lost the second.
North Texas gave Boise all they could handle, and got the opposition angry enough that there was a brawl of sorts. Some of that was the cold, as no one wants to be cold and loose. The run game was nice, and Ikaika Ragsdale was excellent. Manase Mose stepped up and started for the 62nd straight time, extending his record that isn’t likely to be broke in the near future. Jake Roberts and Jyaire Shorter caught touchdown passes. The front four got to Boise, until they didn’t.
If you have watched this team this year it all looked familiar. For moments, NT looks like the best offense in the G5, and when Boise had NT pinned down and needing to drive for a touchdown? Well they looked like they couldn’t get out of their own way. That’s been the story, right? That’s been the problem. This team is good enough to lead the conference in offense (well, top 2-3) and get to the league title game, but not good enough to host it, or score with UTSA, or score with Boise State the way they needed to to win.
Getting close and losing can hurt more than just not being part of the conversation some times.
Instead of anger and rage, most Mean Green fans are ready to move to the next thing. At the Friday pre-game, and the Saturday tailgate new head coach Eric Morris gave his speech. He called NT “the best G5 job in the nation” and lots of other things you want your newly hired coach to say. He is not quite a quote machine like Phil Bennett, but he certainly said the right things to the right people.
Morris has also said “This thing isn’t broken” and he’s right. The players notably did not jump in the transfer portal, instead waiting and playing hard on a cold night in Frisco. It wasn’t enough, but that is why the administration hired a new guy to change that.
He’ll have some decisions to make as he builds his “unbelievable staff”, like a new defensive coordinator. Bennett is loved by his players, and respected by his peers, but his group allowed another team to put up 300+ rushing. Changes, improvements, and difference-makers are expected.
MGN had Aldo out in the cold, battling a little head cold, but taking some beautiful pictures. I believe one member of the administration even stole one for his own social media tweet, haha.
NT fell to 4-3 vs Boise State, including the second loss in December postseason. The other was an FCS Playoff loss in 1994.
In the last 15 years, Short is the only FBS player with 9+ touchdowns and fewer than 25 catches in a season. He did that in 2019 as well. It is ridiculous. He also passed the 20+ touchdown mark for his career, only the 8th guy to do that in NT.
Jordan Smart had three catches for 94 yards.
Mose set his start-mark in program history but also NCAA history.
KD Davis extended his program record tackle mark at 426, and came up limping. He said “I’m fine” on twitter.
Austin Aune threw his 33rd TD, extending his single season record for touchdown passes.
The Stone Man, Stone Earle threw a score as well.
The official attendance was 12,211 — an ugly number considering the proximity and that it holds 20K, but the enthusiasm wasn’t there for the matchup, the team. It was also very cold. Bowls are supposed to be semi-vacation like.
Boise’s Ashton Jeanty ran for 178 (a bowl record) and boise had 318 (a bowl record) yards rushing. This was the closet game in Frisco Bowl history, with every other ending by a margin of 10+. CUSA is 1-2 in the Frisco Bowl. Also, thus far CUSA is 1-3 (UAB won, UNT, UTSA, and Rice lost) in bowl games in 2022.
Avalos had this to say about the post-game discussions: