Still No Offense: SMU 31 NT 13

I really could just get last season’s recap of the Texas game and swap out the ‘Texas’ words for ‘SMU’ words.

Let’s try the first couple of grafs.

North Texas and the fans and students thereof came to Austin Dallas expecting to give Texas SMU a run for their money in DKR-Texas Memorial Gerry Ford Stadium. The defense did just that. The special teams was equal to their Longhorn Pony counterpart. The offense completely disappointed.

These are facts. They are not in dispute.

Both of the quarterbacks The same guy seeking to replace outgoing Derek Thompson underwhelmed. They combined for fifteen yards He managed 128 passing. Combined. For fifteen One-hundred-twenty-eight. Yards. 15 128

This is in an era where passing yards come in bulk. A weekend where three different quarterbacks put up 500+ yards passing. This is the only thing that’s different. Although WKU’s Doughty had 441

Our guys? 15. 128

It isn’t very much different. The offense scored points this time, which was nice. In the previews (and long before) I have been reminding anyone who would listen that the historic, great, amazing 2013 season was filled with Special Teams and Defensive touchdowns. While this one didn’t have those, the other two groups not called offense were huge in this game. Sure, Trevor Moore shanked a field goal, but overall that didn’t lose the game.

Before we continue let’s look at something else I didn’t like.

Awful Analysis of The Week

From our Vito:

Even when one takes that all into account, UNT was just not very effective. UNT had 240 yards all night after putting up 43 points against SMU last season.

Sorry. I’ll accept UNT had 13 points after 43 last year. Or UNT had only 240 yards after 353 last year. Or UNT only converted 6-16 3rd downs after converting 6-16 last — wait what?

That’s right.

Let’s compare offenses from the last two SMU games:

This Last
Passing 128 108
Pass Att 34 17
Rushing 112 245
1st Downs 17 17
3rd eff 6-16 6-16
4th eff 0-0 1-1
YPRush 3.4 4.5
YPPass 3.6 6
Penalties 15-139 15-139

Another dirty little secret that was hidden under the rug of a complete blowout was the fact that the offense was boring. Now, the more discerning among you remember that Josh Greer could have made more of his attempts early and the run game and defense largely carried the day against a toothless SMU squad.

Offense

Let’s begin where we are most concerned. The QB play was terrible. Andrew McNulty put up 47% passing 128 yards and 2INTs. That’s the worst we’ve had since … November of last season.

Wait, what?

Worst passing games in UNT recent history

Date Opponent Att Comp Pct Yds Y/Att
9/22/15 @ SMU 34 16 47.1 128 3.6
11/22/14 FIU 20 9 45.0 105 5.3
10/25/14 @Rice 34 16 47.1 190 5.9
8/30/14 @Texas 17 3 17.6 15 0.9

Yes. We have four (!!!) games with sub-50% passing in the last year. We know what happened against Texas, and the FIU game was followed up with a solid outing against a good UTSA defense. With an entire offseason, a QB competition, and a QB friendly offense, we had reason to expect a more efficient pass game to take pressure off a talented running back stable.

Instead we got more of the same. The outrage is palpable. The groans after Canales called three straight runs after the initial turnover deep in SMU territory were loud.

On the Game Day podcast I mentioned needing special teams to make plays to overcome the Chad Morris / SMU offensive talent disparity. The opening fumbled snap by SMU’s punter Josh Williams was a gift that we squandered. Sure, Trevor Moore is automatic1, but we don’t play offense to score field goals do we?

Do we?

I don’t know.

The play-calling and the decision making from the coaching staff suggests that we are actually playing to score field goals. Carlos Harris and Antoinne Jimmerson are playmakers but surely someone can catch a 15-yard pass in the end zone? Last season against SMU, I complained that we didn’t try to exploit Darius Terrell’s size in the end zone. This year that size advantage is Marcus Smith against anyone. He was missing from the first series but that’s no excuse to not even attempt something going toward six points.

Even more puzzling was that later Canales and company called three straight deep passes from the SMU 40 when down a point.

This sprout of aggressiveness was surrounded by an infuriatingly predictable series of run-run-pass sequences. Keeping the defense honest would go a long way toward maximizing the QB’s abilities and certainly put the players in a better position to succeed.

Really, isn’t that the entire purpose of the coaching staff? The players win and lose the games, but their coaches are supposed to put them in the best position to do the former and avoid the latter.

What Now?

Carlos Harris defended his quarterback — as well he should. Sed Ellis trashed everyone who was calling UNT trash after the game. These are reasonable reactions to feeling like your fans are not supporting you when you are feeling bad. The fans aren’t turning on the team. Just the coaching staff. And with good reason.

This mess of an offense is squarely on Dan McCarney and Mike Canales. North Texas has weapons to score points. Did you see Antoinne Jimmerson rushing for yet another 25+ yard touchdown? Yes. Imagine if the defense wasn’t stacking the box and sitting on short throws.

This is one calendar year of disappointing offense that is handcuffing a pretty solid defense.

Harris also (rightly) complained about some questionable no-calls by the ref on some deep passes in the second quarter. However, if we are relying on these kinds of things for offense, we are in trouble.

Turner Smiley was second in receiving. He looked good. The reciving corps as a whole were solid but dropped a couple of passes.

Here is the drive chart. NT averaged a starting position on their own 41 for the first half and came away with two FG, 1 Missed FG, and 1 fumble. That’s not winning football on the road.

Start Plays Yards Result
SMU 16 4 8 FG
UNT 15 6 25 PUNT
UNT 46 6 14 PUNT
UNT 20 5 26 PUNT
SMU 30 7 22 FG
UNT 42 1 -11 FUMBLE
UNT 13 11 56 Missed FG
UNT 25 2 0 INT
UNT 1 3 0 PUNT
UNT 25 9 75 TD
UNT 25 10 41 FUMBLE
UNT 22 3 5 PUNT
UNT 25 3 4 INT

Defense

The heroes of the game. Ladies and gentleman, the defense deserved better than what their offensive teammates gave them. Two goal line stands, a couple of forced turnovers, short fields and solid tackling against good playmakers early.

Yes. Matt Davis and that Malone kid had themselves a helluva time running through the teeth of the defense in the fourth quarter.

Still, SMU had the defense on the field for 35:50.

SMU’s drive results for the 9 possessions prior to scoring 24 on their final four (meaningful) drives: Downs, TD, Punt, Fumble, Fumble, Punt, Fumble, Half, Downs.

Remember SMU scared half the fanbase with their first quarter performance against Baylor last week. Everyone, including this blog thought we were going to struggle with Courtland Sutton and Matt Davis. In the end Davis was the player of the game but only after being corralled successfully for the best part of 45 minutes.

The defensive line did a great job stepping up to the challenge of shutting down the inside run game on which the entire Morris offense is based. They did a slightly poorer job tackling him, Malone, or anyone in the open field with consistency. He is shifty, so it’s hard to blame them.

Blake Bean led the team with 10 tackles and forced a fumble. Kishawn McClain was second in tackles and also forced a fumble. James Gray, Cedric Fernades, Zac Whitfield (welcome back!) were all very solid in pass coverage. Whitfield has always had a problem with double-moves and got burned on one but overall he was very solid.

Of course, the defense was without Kenny Buyers, who will miss significant time with a bad back. Chad Davis and company performed admirably in his stead.

Sack Watch

3.0

Leaders:

  1. Rod Young, Chad Davis, 1.0
  2. Andy Flusche, Sir Calvin Wallace 0.5

Very Early Look Ahead

Rice can run and they are very good. The mood of the fans after what was essentially a home game will be interesting to watch. Lots of message boarders and online people were suggesting they weren’t going got show up. That likely is a lot of immediate frustration talking.

Still, Greg mentioned that the students were complaining about having had taken the bus and having to watch a disappointing ending.

Three weeks into the college football season is a difficult time to play your first true home game. I’ll be there. This game with Rice was always going to be more important that the one with SMU, rivalry aside. Rice is a private school that looks down their noses, also, and they are in the conference. A win at home against a solid Rice team will go a long way to soothing the hurt everyone feels.

Random

This guy was very annoying.

face_of_smu


  1. Yep. He did miss one.