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Perspective Time: Southern Miss 30 North Texas 20

Instead of doing important things with deadlines attached to them I am writing about college football. You are reading my writings about college football. That says something about you and me.

It means that we care about this thing. We care enough to think about it when there is no “reasonable” excuse to be doing so.

Maybe it is the latent tribal mentality expressing itself in the recesses of our brains. Maybe we are all a little bit stupid.

I don’t know about such things. I do know that Saturday was a tough day to be a North Texas fan. Against a program that North Texas beat 55-13 just one year ago, they looked overmatched against a Southern Mississippi running game. The resemblance to last year’s ferocious defense is limited to uniforms and a few familiar names. This isn’t the unit that carried the North Texas program to a bowl game.

Did we expect it to be? Well that depends. I had belief. I had hope. After seeing the effort (and result) against Texas and SMU I thought this unit had the requisite toughness and knowledge of the scheme to approximate The┬áZach Orr Defense. From the second quarter against Louisiana Tech to now there has been an obvious regression. Whereas Indiana boasts college football’s leading rusher, and UAB a good CUSA offense, this Southern Miss team came in averaging a paltry 320 yards per game. They exploded for 500+. They ran for 201 yards, outpacing their average by 109 yards.

Any hope for a conference or a division title are remote at best. The season isn’t over — there still remains the very small chance of another bowl appearance. That would require a herculean effort the likes of which this team — staff and players — do not seem capable of pulling off.

All that sounds harsh. Sure. It is fun to be a fan and read articles that think up new and ever more fun ways to say how good our favorite team is. It is just as fun to write those.

Is this not fandom? Is this not loyalty? What the hell are we supposed to do?

My favorite1 thing after a loss — particularly bad ones — is to see the twin overreactions of a fan base.2.



The right place to be is away from both camps, of course. I don’t know how you can enjoy anything in this world of ours without a little passion. I can’t see how you make it through the drudgery of this world without a little reasonableness. The right mix of the two should get you through this thing just fine.

If you care, you can’t help but learn more about the game. If you learn about the game you can’t help but notice when it isn’t being played well. If you notice that, you might want to elucidate your observation.

There isn’t anything wrong with that.

Generally, you are under no obligation to be positive for positivity sake, though you should probably realize that your elucidated opinion has an effect. Just like your cheering. Over-negativity does no one any good. It makes you look like an asshole. Over-positivity makes you look like a psycho.

But you know that.

That said, let’s figure out what we saw on Saturday.

Reviewing the Storylines

  1. McNulty to Start!

He started. He got behind that big ass green bus and steered. He handed the ball off to Jimmerson and Pegram a bunch and passed to Carlos Harris 15 times for 216. It looked like a mix of Darrell Dickey’s bus drivers and Todd Dodge’s overfeeding Casey Fitzgerald. The important stat (to people who think like McCarney) is that there weren’t any turnovers.

It can be argued that there wasn’t enough explosiveness either. The offense, for all it’s efficiency and steadfastness, only scored 20 points on 395 yards. They only converted 5 of 13 third downs. For what it is worth, McNulty put up more yards in this game than Dajon did in either of the last two. He also threw for significantly less TDs. It has been my contention that I’d rather live with Dajon learning on the job than playing conservative football right now. But they don’t pay me money to make these decisions, yawl.

  1. North Texas Looks to Rebound at Home

I’ve complained about Danny Mac’s self-leniency when it comes to judging his road record. His (and our) beloved Apogee resume is looking a lot worse after losses to La Tech and Southern Miss. In case you are scoring at home, that is three straight conference losses going back to the debacle against UTSA. That was another we were favored in.3

The frustration most Mean Green fans feel comes from the fact that the team looks so uncompetitive in the games it is losing. The losses aren’t bothering people, it is the way they are coming. Losing at home as 2-TD favorites feels like a blow out. That explains the dejected reaction.

  1. The Defense Will Play Better At Home with Positive TO Margin

Nope. This ties into the previous storyline. In each of the last two games, North Texas has been down 21-0 thanks to very early turnovers. In this one, they managed to grab a couple themselves. It didn’t help. Outside of the interceptions, this defense was getting sliced up. Mullens was dealing. He looked like Cody Sokol a few weeks back. After seeing Sokol and Louisiana Tech in the following games, I’m thinking that the Mean Green made him look a tad better than he really is. That is incredibly frustrating.

The Good News

Hey, both Southern Miss and Louisiana Tech had horrible seasons last years. USM has had a horrible string of seasons. College football is dynamic and this is especially so in CUSA. With a little tweaking, a little maturity, and a few adjustments this team can learn a lot from the previous games and improve next year. This is all part of the learning process.

The Bad News

Dan McCarney was famously critical of the previous regime’s recruits. He called them small and slow and not FBS material. He then proceeded to win with Dodge’s recruits. As his own crop of newbies come into prominent positions he has fired off Hot Sports Opinions about the difficulty recruiting to Denton.

These comments met an unhappy audience, myself included. I am inclined to give him the benefit of the doubt4 however. On January 1, 2014 I couldn’t imagine being the slightest bit disillusioned with Coach Mac, but I now see where things could become ugly.

I mean, it can be argued that Iowa State’s biggest mistake wasn’t forcing McCarney out, but not finding anyone better qualified than him afterwards.

Next Week

Rice. The big season turnaround more or less came on Halloween last year. North Texas clinched bowl-eligibility then. This year, the Mean Green look to get half way to that mark.

Here’s hoping we do so.


  1. Read: It isn’t my favorite 
  2. Ours, of course, included. I live in San Antonio and follow UTSA a bit so I saw a lot of that during their LaTech loss before our game. 
  3. Against UTSA I think it was 13, La Tech 3.5, USM 13.5. We lost by 8, 21, 10 respectively. 
  4. Chalk it up to frustration, to context, to the heat of passion after a tough stretch. 

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