After coming off the high of North Texas’ 43-28 victory, let’s take a step back and critically review some aspects of the game. No fluff, just my notes.
During the first three non-conference games, North Texas converted 28% offensive third downs. That’s not good. Over these last two conference games, North Texas has converted 44%. The defense allowed 33% 3rd down conversions against Southern Miss after consistently allowing over 50-60%.
North Texas was able to overcome a deficit, finish drives, and score points. One drive went for 12 plays, 95 yards, and a touchdown in over 5 minutes of play.
Fine found guys through the air and moved the sticks. Pushing through its own struggles, the offensive line was able to open up holes where possible, and Wilson was able to take advantage of any creases available. On the year, Wilson is 7/10 and two touchdowns on 3rd and short (1-3 yards) and 3/3 on 3rd and medium (4-6 yards).
Here, Mason Fine extends the touchdown drive by converting a 4th and 2 late in the second quarter.
By converting on third and fourth downs, North Texas was able to string together sustained drives and score points. This is a difference from past regimes. We see the punt unit less, and the field goal unit more. Whether it is a field goal or a touchdown, we are marching into scoring range more consistently.
Mason Fine then finds Nic Smith for 6 yards to convert on a 4th and 4 in the last 20 seconds of the second half. North Texas ended up getting 3 points to end the half, and received the ball to start the next half. Look at that ball tracking.
As I mentioned in the podcast, Wilson carried North Texas in many games last season, even in losses. This season, Guyton is pushing the offense to wins.
Nic Smith is good, and he’s got some Jimmerson in him. I think we’ll be in good hands next season as long as our depth is shored up behind him.
I’m not as comfortable speaking about the defense, but while putting pressure on the quarterback and offensive line all night, they also contained Staggers downfield. Preston did an admirable job 1 on 1 breaking up a long reception. Many times, however, I saw Staggers double covered. Yes, where was this against SMU? The takeaway, though is, have we learned our lesson? Have we changed our coverage a little, or are we executing a bit better.
There’s not much to talk about here, but just a few notes that I think will be critical for future success. I’ll stick to the offense.
In the run game, North Texas had success attacking the edges. We have to find a way to be more consistent inside, in order to be more consistent converting on short yardage situations as the season progresses. Many of Jeff Wilson’s short yardage conversions were by the skin of his teeth.
In the following conversion, the right guard and right tackle are beat quickly, but Wilson is able to accelerate through the gap, lower his pads, and get underneath the tacklers.
Mason Fine was underthrowing throughout the night. I am not talking about the passes where guys were making sliding catches. Fine was putting those where only his receiver could make a play. The deep balls to Smiley and Guyton were slightly behind, leading to them to be caught by defenders. Not sure if he was just a little off, or if he was being a little conservative to protect the pass from the safeties over the top (in some cases).
And finally, we need to start off the game like we did against SMU. Keep the throttle on all game.
These small adjustments could be the difference of two or more scores. This improved offense is potent and it needs to stay potent all game.