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Football Football Recaps

DaMarcus Time: WKU 55 UNT 28

Let’s be real, you really didn’t think North Texas was going to bounce back from that 66-7 loss and pull off an upset against the conference’s best team. I wanted to believe. I wanted to be dead wrong.  I wanted to feel like Greg did, but WKU has looked too efficient this month and our defense too porous to feel differently. I predicted 55-21 and it ended 55-28.

So yeah. I guessed right.

The real question of the night was “How Will This Team Look?”

They most obviously quit on Dan McCarney last week. There is no reason North Texas should have been beaten 66-7 by anyone in CUSA on down to FCS. 2015 North Texas wasn’t expected to rack up very many wins but they weren’t expected to be the nation’s worst team, either.

Offense

The great news is that tonight the offense looked full of promise with DaMarcus Smith at the helm, but promise does not equal production. Smith can rocket the ball down the field but struggles with short throws. This, if anything, was where McNulty looked better this season and probably the reason McCarney was choosing him in practice. Having watched DaMarcus tonight — despite his mistakes — I can declare him as obviously the best QB we have on this team.

Unfortunately, this offense still looks like one tailored for McNulty, because only a few plays seem to fit Smith’s skill set. Those plays would be the reads, the QB draws, and the ones where he was able to unleash the cannon that is his right arm.

Given the questionable short-range accuracy 1, this offense really should be built around Wilson dives, Smith keepers, and play action passes deep. Canales mentioned on the broadcast that Smith was a bit too excited. That accounts for the wild throws, and hopefully with nine days of preparation as the starter, he’ll be more comfortable and settled and maybe can run this offense that likes short, accurate passes. Next up is Marshall, and after that a showdown with rival UTSA. One of these is a very winnable game if we have our QB playing well.

Whoever the next coach will be will have at least a seed of ability to build an offense around. This team can run really well and hit deep passes as a change up. His main problem will be the defense.

But before we go there, lets acknowledge that the offense benefited late from WKU substitutions, and the low pressure of a blowout. North Texas was offense-ing below WKU’s averaged allowed. At one point NT was at about 5.5 yards per play and the Toppers allow about 5.9. We ended at 5.8. They allow an average of 439 a game and we ended with 431. WKU averages a 20 point lead at half and we were down . . . 20 at half. So we can maybe take solace that we are an average WKU opponent. That’s good in that we look like every other team they’ve destroyed and not a historically bad team that could only manage 2.75 yards per play against Portland State.

Jeff Brohm’s charges are the offensive class of the conference. They can run and throw with equal explosiveness and efficiency. Contrasted with our unit, we look very poor. Whereas Wilson and Smith can occasionally break open a 10+ yard run and we can toss an occasional 50-yard strike, we mix in far to many drops and fumbles. This is from seniors and juniors, to boot. Mix in the terrible snaps that killed the opening drive of the second-half (and the later ones that nearly killed the final drive) and you can see why this offense has been historically bad up to this point.

Thankfully, we had a playmaker with the ball in his hands. DaMarcus is explosive, and has a cannon arm. He makes plays. Period.

Were the defense the 2013 version — or at least 75% of it — and the run game able to control the game, then I could totally see why you would want to have a mistake-free, low risk quarterback as starter. Smith is feast or famine at this point and especially against a WKU team that is so complete, every mistake hurts double. That said, we need the occasional feasts he provides.

Give him the week-plus before the next one and he has the potential to be a game-winner, and not just a game-changer. We’ll give him the benefit of the doubt since he was the most exciting player on the field. Next week we should be a slight bit more critical. Tonight he gets a pass.

After all, the offense put up 28 points — a season high — and second highest yards-per-play average of the season (6.2, after 7.71 against Rice).

Defense

Oh dear. Oh dear. Oh dear.

This defense allowed 683 yards on 82 plays — an 8.2 yards per play average. We came in allowing 547 on 369 plays — 7.42 per play. This was the second straight 670+ yard allowed game, the third straight 8.0+ yards per play allowed game. It was the fifth game in six that we allowed over 200 yards rushing. (Rice only tallied 189.) It was the fourth in six that we allowed over 300 yards passing. It was the third game in five that we allowed 49+.

Tackling looks horrendous, and the defensive line is getting blown off the ball so much that the linebackers are unable to make a play anywhere near the backfield. The secondary is allowing chunks of yardage and can’t step up and make tackles like previous teams did. Oh, and they are getting beat deep.

Is the entire blame on the players? Like, is it all their fault? No. It is hard to say exactly how much is just talent differential and how much is inexperience. We knew that it was going to be another difficult year defensively considering the Chris Cosh coaching change, and the injuries to quality players. The secondary is going as deep as it can right now, and has played some quality quarterbacks.

The bad news is that CUSA has good quarterbacks all the way through.

Defensive Coordinator Chris Cosh doesn’t have the greatest reputation among fans of our team, or fans of his previous teams when you look around. Even though the players seem to like him, he has presided over the worst defenses since the Dodge Era. Some individuals have played well, but there hasn’t been one complete game.

Even the one game where they played solidly for three quarters — against SMU — has an asterisk considering the Ponies are winless against everyone else but us. We patted ourselves on the back and excused away the fourth quarter melt-down by saying it was because they were gassed. I don’t know how much of that is true.

Canales apparently asked the defensive coaches why we couldn’t blitz more considering we have ‘nothing to lose’. Blitzing wasn’t going to stop this WKU squad 2. Still, we all kind of hoped that we’d be able to slow them a bit. A few times we forced a stop, but mannnnnn they turned it up a few times and made everything look hopeless.

How much of that was WKU being awesome and how much was our defense being porous? Can you tell absolutely? I can’t.

It’s easy to complain every time a team drives easily down the field, but we have to remember that our secondary is very young. Our best tackling cornerback was lost for the year, the other starting corner was suspended, and we have a converted linebacker playing CB. This was to be expected, if you remember the the value a secondary with experience plays in defensive strength.

I want to believe the defense was finding it hard to play for an offense that couldn’t hold possession, or move the ball let alone score. It was hard to tell tonight, considering how good WKU is. Next game we’ll see them against a Marshall offense that isn’t nearly as good as they were last season. Compared to the Hilltopper’s blistering 7+ yards per pay, the Herd are only mustering a paltry 4.95. They aren’t explosive, nor efficient. Here’s hoping for something a bit better.


  1. He completed about 60% of his passes at Butler 
  2. Also, considering my TL, it is hard to know exactly how much weight Canales’ press conference talk had with his players. Lots of tweets, y’all. 
Categories
Football

MGN Coach Search Tracker 2015

MGN Coach Tracker 5

12/5/2015

It is official. We have hired Seth Littrell as the 19th Head Coach in NT history.

12/1/2015

We had a hunch that Athletic Director Rick Villarreal was leaning toward Littrell with his ‘schedule’ hints. Since UNC’s de facto OC is preparing his Tar Heels for the ACC Title game against #1 Clemson, it made sense.

Then came the following tweet from Pete Thamel, and the subsequent ‘me too’ tweets from Joe Shad et al.

https://twitter.com/SIPeteThamel/status/671749480270700544

If Meacham and Littrell were indeed the two finalists, it stands to reason that North Texas will hire Seth Littrell as the new head coach.

The scary thing is that his name and profile could blow up after a successful showing against Clemson. UNC’s offense been ridiculous this season, but few non-die hard college football fans know about it. Exploding for yards and points in a showdown against the number one team in the nation will raise the profile a bit.

I have no illusions about our ability to outspend the competition. North Texas may be able to compete with the majority of G5 schools, but with Houston setting a G5 precedent, I don’t know if little ol’ NT can afford to not lock up the next coach before the money gets ridiculous.

11/30/2015

Update 5:52pm

Mendez updates his post to say “yeah it’s probably Littrell” now.

NT Daily writer Scott Sidway has been tweeting his skepticism of the Meecham stuff all day.

He adds that it seems no one knows who is the favorite except the two people who likely know the decision — RV and Smastresk.

Ultimately, he’s right. Of course the guys that have been actually conducting interviews and the search know who they want. Still, that doesn’t mean we couldn’t have an idea. Both FWST and DRC got burned by their insiders. They trusted their sources enough to publish updates on this, but it seems both were burned a bit. First Vito and his ‘industry’ guys, and Mendez and his ‘sources’.

So we wait. If I had to guess on this, I’d lean toward Seth Littrell, simply because of the ‘schedule’ references Rick Villarreal made (see below at 11/29/15 update). It seems to me (and I’m guesstimating here) that Meacham has the freer schedule of the two. Seth is out here preparing for an ACC title game matchup with Clemson.

Update 4:28pm:

Carlos Mendez, TCU beat writer tweeted the following:

End update


3:50pm

No one knows anything

In the update below, we linked to Vito’s sunday night blog post letting us know that Meacham was the likely candidate but nothing was certain.

This morning he posted an update saying that someone told him Littrell was still in the race.

Later, he posted an afternoon update saying that Meacham was perhaps considering staying at TCU in light of the Cumbie-to-Texas thing. He cites yet another ‘industry source’ that says Meacham will not come here.

Football Scooped chimed in laying out the centrality of this job to a bunch of other positions. Basically, if Meacham comes here, Cumbie may not go to Texas. However, it could be that if Cumbie does leave Meacham may stay at TCU.

Finally Fort Worth Star Telegram TCU beat reporter Carlos Mendez says someone tells him Meacham definitely will come to UNT. Now this was posted before Vito posted his update above that says someone told him Meacham will not be the guy.

So we have conflicting reports that cite conflicting sources. Enjoy!

Update: Football Scoop says slow your roll, Star-Telegram

11/29/2015

Vito reports that it might-could-be-very-well-looks-like we are getting Doug Meacham as our coach. I’m excited.

There are mixed reports, however, so I’m not too excited. We know that we need to hire a guy as soon as possible:

  1. North Texas has had plenty of time to make a decision since firing Dan McCarney in October. Recruiting season is upon us and North Texas needs to salvage a class.
  2. With more coaches being fired in the last few days, and more to come, securing the next guy so he can begin to build his staff is important.
  3. Athletic Director Rick Villarreal has his hands full with this hire, and the fact that the basketball team started off terribly in a make-or-break year for Tony Benford.

It feels like it will be Meacham considering his close DFW ties, his schedule — TCU doesn’t have a conference championship game to play — make it seem likely that he’ll be available to fit the timeline of an announcement.

It is interesting that RV said

“We have done our due diligence and will make a decision soon,” Villarreal said. “All of the things that we have to do are dependent on people’s schedules.”

But I could be reading too much into it. There really is very little information available to go on.

11/28/2015

Football Scoop reports we’ve whittled down the coaching list to two names. Meacham and UNC’s Seth Littrell are the two names. The latter coordinated the explosive UNC offense under Larry Fedora. Littrell himself coached at Indiana under Kevin Wilson, Arizona under Mike Stoops, and Texas Tech under Mike Leach. Both options are Air Raid coaches, given they’ve both been under Leach or Leach proteges (Meacham).

I’m excited about either of these guys, given the offensive backwardness these last two seasons.

11/25/2015

Apparently Riley and Briles said ‘no’. Of the Texas-area candidates it may be between Meacham and Cumbie.

11/23/15 Update:

11/5/2015 Update:

  • The AD has talked with and interviewed several candidates as of Saturday (10/31/2105)
  • The pay scale for the North Texas job has been set. The salary range is between $900K and 1.5 million dollars.
  • Fox Sports Bruce Feldman reported earlier this week that 3 names were in the mix for North Texas Kendall Briles, Mike Norvell, and Everett Withers.
  • Briles initially had no interest in the job, but was warming up to it after North Texas tried really hard to sell it. Well we’ve been told that Briles is no longer interested and basically you can cross him off your wish list.
  • Mike Norvell is a young OC at Arizona St and we’ve been told he really wants the job.
  • Everett Withers is guy who impressed the AD.
  • Lincoln Riley is a name that surfaced Monday night into Tuesday. We’ve been told that UNT officials have talked and met with Lincoln. North Texas came away very impressed with Riley. The interesting part about Riley is that he initiated contact with North Texas. Now there have been conflicting reports surfacing on Riley. Those reports say that Riley and UNT have only talked and that his interest isn’t as strong as we were first told. I tend to lean towards what we reported first. Riley and UNT are too perfect for each other. Are there other power programs interested in Riley? Hard to say right now. His name hasn’t really surfaced for other jobs. He was mentioned last year for the SMU job.

 

 

 

 

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Football

Canales Intro Press Conference

http://youtu.be/0nvch2OEXGQ
Mike Canales begins his second term as Interim HC, nearly 5 years exactly from his previous stint after UNT fired Dodge in October 2010. 

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MGN Podcast

51: Goodbye Danny Mac

Dan McCarney is fired after an embarrassing 66-7 loss to FCS Portland State

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Football

Goodbye Dan McCarney

Well it happened.

We fired the head coach of the program. I was very much upset with that awful, terrible, absolutely, no good performance. I filled up your TL with lots of thoughts about the game. You may have some thoughts about the game yourself.

There may be some point to going through the Portland State game in detail, but I don’t know what that point would be. It looked like a team going through the motions against a well-coached, motivated one. The Dan McCarney-coached teams of any of the last four years would have destroyed this Dan McCarney-coached team today.

I’m going to try my best to encapsulate Dan McCarney’s entire tenure, from memory, in less than 1,000 words. That’s your caveat.

Before we begin here are some links I tweeted out links to the various things I’ve written praising his performance here in Denton.

It’s important to mention that to balance the criticism that he will get the rest of the way. It’s also important to remember that the Athletic Director Rick Villarreal hired both McCarney and his predecessor, two stewards of some of the most embarrassing times in North Texas history. Villarreal also put together this schedule of five home games with no bye weeks. He is not free of blame.

https://meangreennation.com/dan-mccarney-era-begins/
https://meangreennation.com/mccarney-speaks-to-the-masses/
https://meangreennation.com/dan-mccarney-and-his-contract/
https://meangreennation.com/north-texas-36-unlv-14-heart-of-dallas-bowl-champs/
https://meangreennation.com/north-texas-14-lsu-41/

McCarney began his tenure at North Texas as a surprise hire. Mike Canales won over the fan base with his interim coaching performance after the Todd Dodge era. It should be noted that Dodge began his tenure with embarrassing blow-outs but ended with a solid team that lost close games. Were it not for one or two close plays in 2010, Dodge could very well have saved his job. Canales managed a team devastated at QB and turned in some solid performances to end the year. He won games, he gave KState a game with Chase Baine — a 6th string wide out as QB. Canales was the fan favorite to earn the gig. And yet Rick Villareal hired Dan.

Dan McCarney shrewdly kept Mike Canales on as coordinator, and immediately won over the fans, students, and college football writers with his charm, enthusiasm, old school approach that was sorely needed during at this program that had become a joke around town, in the state, and nationally. Dan McCarney was breath of fresh air, and made the promises we all wanted to hear.

In his first couple of seasons, he battled the transitionary problems that any new coach faces. There was no immediate turn around even though we desperately wanted one. In hindsight it was worrying but at the time it could be easily explained away by scapegoating the previous regime. Dan McCarney let it be known through non-public means that NT had the smallest, least-ready FBS roster he’d seen in his coaching time. Again, this would be used against him later, (like after getting destroyed by FCS Portland State in his final turn as coach) but his complaints were received with nods and understanding.

By 2013, he had his detractors in and outside of the program. The criticism can be summed as “too conservative, too old fashioned”. The lackluster recruiting classes, and questionable QB selections especially, were obvious weaknesses in the McCarney regime. Rumors of his personal failings and vices were whispered in DMs, and emails. His seat was by no means warm, but he coudn’t point at Dodge’s failure any longer.

He was saved in 2013 when everything fell into place. Whereas the defenses up to that point were prone to giving up big plays, and the offenses were impotent, predictable, and turnover prone; the 2013 defense was a force and the offense was more consistent. The Special teams were similarly spectacular. North Texas only lost once at home, destroyed the lesser teams in conference play, and won a bowl game in front of 39,000 fans in the historic Cotton Bowl stadium.

Why Not North Texas indeed.

The brilliance of his massive success hid the flaws that year, however. The offense was good but still conservative, over reliant on the defense and special teams. The team was poor on the road, losing an awful game to a very beatable Tulane. Most heartbreakingly, NT lost at home to UTSA in the final home game of the season, ruining a chance at a conference title game bid, a perfect home record, and the possibility of 10 wins. That NT looked unprepared, and was out coached in that game is unsurprising taken in context of his entire era here, and his overall coaching record.

These last two seasons have been marred by a quarterback controversy four years in the making. McCarney might have bought himself more time if he could have found a Derek Thompson replacement sooner. Instead he could only manage a series of mysterious JUCO transfers that never saw significant playing time. That mess of situation combined with the precipitous decline of the defense used up the goodwill from 2013 quickly. Though a rebuilding year was expected, the inept offense and stubborn coaching decisions frustrated everyone who followed closely. His public complaints and rants at press conferences were oddly defensive, the kind of thing a man without any answers would resort to. They certainly weren’t befitting the guy who proclaimed that he would turn this ship around back at his introduction.

This newest season brought hope, as any does, but the reservoir of goodwill was still dangerously low. When Andrew McNulty handed the ball off on a midline dive a loud groan came from the 9,000 UNT fans at Gerry Ford. A muffed punt had presented Dan’s charges with a choice opportunity and it was squandered. North Texas fans had seen this too often and the excuses were growing stale.

As Greg explained this week, the QB play was awful and yet Dan McCarney maintained that it was “solid.” While public defense of the players is expected, this was almost willfull blindess to the facts. When combined with the public criticism of the backup DaMarcus Smith the stubborness is baffling.

Dan McCarney could have probably survived a loss to Portland State. The Vikings are a good team, and have already beaten Washington State. The bookmakers favored them by a point 1, and a tough loss at homecoming wouldn’t have been unforgiveable. He couldn’t survive a complete embarrassment, however.

Not only was it the second straight week that his team found itself down 35-0, but it was at home, on homecoming, against a lower division team. His team looked a shell of any other squad he’d put out on the field. He’d long pointed to his sterling home record 2 as a point of pride, but Apogee wasn’t a comfort this season, as he dropped both home games.

In the end Dan McCarney had a 22-32 record at North Texas, his winning percentage about a percentage point higher than at Iowa State, where he was — and still is — held in high esteem. He will be held in similar regard here, where he presided over some of the greatest moments in NT history, and some of the worst. That is his legacy at North Texas.


  1. Which speaks volumes about the state of our program in itself. 
  2. He also frequently complained about the scheduling, which I agreed with. However, he lost on the road against beatable teams frequently. Tulane, UTSA, SMU are some of the more obvious losses. There were others. His teams also were awful away, not just losing but doing so badly. 
Categories
Football Football Recaps

Whither Goes The Program?

I wrote a good portion of this about a week ago. It seems I’ve found the perfect ending with news coming out that Dan McCarney was fired. So here it is. Just insert the past tense where you see future tense in regards to his job.

To say Head Coach Dan McCarney is on the hot seat — at least with fans — is an understatement. Twitter is ablaze with HSOs on the poor performance. Were little old NT a more prestigious program like Austin’s burnt orange troop, we would be seeing more media coverage of this dumpster fire.

As it is, Mac’s supporters are referencing the Bowl Game win 1 as a shield against the mounting evidence that he is maybe not the guy to lead this program into the future. He has overseen some of the most disappointing performances in school history in the two seasons since then. He certainly has time to turn this around. Nope!

Replacement Options

A number of fans have already begun succession planning. Of course any option would have to include a change at the AD level. If we get a replacement coach . . .

I don’t think you need Texas ties. Todd Dodge didn’t do amazing recruiting with his superb Texas ties.2

If you can sell your vision — with both the product (on field success) and the promise (persuasion) — then we should be able to get some guys in here. U of NT is in the Metroplex, and Denton is basically Austin circa 1977 3 it has big city and small town vibes, lots of opportunity, a big network of alumni, and is in a transportation hub. As long as we have half-way decent support for the coach, said coach should be able to compete for conference titles every four years at the very minimum.

Baylor was an awful sell until Briles brought some winning ways to effing Waco.

As long as we are derpy-derping in our athletic department, we won’t be able to get the coaches that can do the above and we’ll be stuck complaining about which coach can get them in here.

It is not like we can’t get talent to this team. I mean, we have had a handful of NFL caliber players pass through here and there have been a good number of all-conference players.

We just have not enough good players in the right positions (ahem QB) and not enough playing together (now, last year, 2012, 2011).

Getting Abbe, Byrd, Chance et al was great, but they weren’t first-year game-changing players. They progressed into fourth-and-fifth year all-conference playmakers. When I said with decent support we should expect a conference title run every four years this is what I meant.

If Danny Mac were on schedule this would be something like a 2012, where we lose to the good teams but beat the teams in our wheelhouse. That means SMU, give Rice a better game, and definitely do not go down 35-0 at Southern Miss. [Edit: add the awful, completely embarrassing 66-7 loss to FCS Portland State to this list]

He obviously whiffed awfully on succeeding Derek Thompson and has been scrambling since. That said, he has still brought in Willy Ivery, Jeffery Wilson, Ced Ferndandes ( he looked really good in the games he played), Brandon Garner, etc. These guys have talent, and they can be part of winning teams.

We can, and have, gotten talent here. We don’t absolutely need a guy with Texas ties as long as he can do some half-way decent recruiting. What we need — absolutely —  is a guy that can develop talent. Or else it won’t matter how many stars were by their name when they signed in February. Like this year.


  1. His supporters include himself. The Heart of Dallas Bowl was great. But it is nearing on two years ago. By the way this season is going, he will have surrounded the Bowl win with two years of losing on either side. 
  2. He did good recruiting but nothing amazing — like no Hugh Freeze type stuff where we get guys we weren’t supposed to get. 
  3. When the Austin everyone wishes they were moving to actually existed. 
Categories
Football Football Recaps

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. 
Categories
Basketball

Tony Benford: Compared

Dagga Roosta broke down some numbers (as he did for Texas’ Charlie Strong hire) for UT’s basketball search. It is good work. Let’s piggy back off of it to see where our guys land.

 

headings
BBcoaches Tony Benford and Johnny Jones compared, since 2006

As we know, Johnny Jones ever-so-steadily increased the talent level here, culminating in the Tony Mitchell-Chris Jones-Jordan Williams class of his final year.  The ‘T’ column tracks talent1 and the ‘C’ tracks coaching. We see what Tony Benford did with that talent in 2012-2013: 12-20, with a 56.53 Coaching x Talent rating. Perhaps surprisingly, Johnny Jones didn’t do that much with his talent. He underperformed relative to the talent level he brought in. His strength lies in bringing in the talent and getting about what you’d expect from them. Other coaches do more with less, relying on their coaching ability than their sweet talking on the recruiting trail. I mean, not everyone can be Coach Cal. It looks like our head man Benford is doing less with decreasingly less. He’s brought in lower rated talent than Johnny ever did and isn’t really making up for it by coaching them up any.

Again, this pretty much squares with what we’ve seen at the Super Pit.

I encourage you to check out the rest of it. Here is the link to the entire work.


  1. Check out Daaga’s explanation for more on this. Essentially, it is the 247 Sports ratings of the recruits pulled in. Although these aren’t necessarily hard facts, they represent the best idea of talent we can measure. 
Categories
Basketball

Cold Hard Facts Basketball Style

Disclaimer I’m tired of the negativity that continues to poor out of me. You may not believe me when I say that I’m generally not a negative person. I want to be positive. I want to share with you my thoughts of why this UNT basketball team can turn it around. Unfortunately I cannot do that with you today. So if you were looking for a positive post please exit now and stop reading. If you want to hear a little bit of the truth then stick around.

 

  1. North Texas just lost at home to one of the worst teams in CUSA. Not that playing at home is that much of an advantage for UNT, because there were only 1628 people in attendance. Watching the game from home I’m not so sure that attendance number is correct. Anyways you can’t lose that game if you’re UNT. Yes you were without 2 key players in T.J Taylor and Maurice Aniefiok, but you still have enough talent to win that game. If you want fans to take your program seriously then don’t consistently lose to bottom dwellers.
  2. The defense is good statistically not fundamentally. The one thing that UNT has hung its hat on this year was its defense. Well the past two games it hasn’t been that good. UTSA broke down the zone early with good crisp ball movement. Almost every team has been able to penetrate against the UNT zone and get open looks with kick outs. UNT is not a bad defensive team, but they aren’t great either. Let’s just say that UNT is average on defense and could be in for a rough stretch during conference play.
  3. Talent is not the issue. Fans will immediately look at the talent on the floor as the issue. Well folks that is not the issue. UNT has plenty of talented guys. The problem is that it’s just a group of guys. It’s not a team. It doesn’t function as a team on the court. All I see when I watch them play is 5 guys playing basketball individually. I don’t really blame them. They were brought here for that purpose. Tony Benford is pretty good recruiter. He has brought in talented guys. I get the feeling that he trying to collect as much as talent as he can and hope that it somehow produces a winner. The end result is the pieces don’t fit or the system is flawed.
  4. We have a Coach who can’t reach his players. I’m not one of those that argues that Coach Benford can’t coach. I believe the man knows basketball. He has been around at a lot of places. He has been at places as an assistant where they won too. So the man knows what a winning program looks like. The problem is he can’t convey that to his players. For whatever reason since he has been here his players have not bought in or the message isn’t clear. Coaches have to be great communicators. I get the sense that Coach Benford is not a great communicator. You don’t have so many guys walk away from a program like UNT has had if you have a great communicator at the top.
  5. We have an athletic department who is willing to settle. At some point you hope that the athletic department hears or sees the message. Fans don’t believe in this basketball program. They aren’t going to show up until the AD and administration starts to take this seriously. Right now UNT is being passed in almost every sport by other programs within the state. It’s not that far off to state that UNT is dead last in men’s basketball and football amongst Div 1 schools in this state. The message coming from the AD’s office is one that is he okay with that. He is okay with no change. He is okay with minimal standards. When is UNT going to take athletics seriously?

 

After yesterday’s loss I have hard time seeing this team win more than 4 or 5 games in conference play. It would not surprise me if they go 10-20 this season. It’s a sad thought. Jordan Williams and Colin Voss deserve better. Unfortunately it doesn’t look like things will get better.

Categories
Basketball

Looking Ahead to UNT’s Basketball Conference Schedule

 

North Texas has one game left on its non conference slate and that is tonight vs. Texas Tech. After that it’s on to conference play. Honestly the conference schedule looks pretty damn scary. I had this team winning 16 games during the regular season. That would mean that they need to win 10 in conference. It’s hard to circle 10 wins in a tough conference like CUSA. I broke down the games in 3 categories. First category is Winners. These are games I firmly believe that North Texas will win. Second category is Toss ups. These are games where it could go either way for UNT. Lastly you have the Need a Prayer category and I think you can figure out what that means.

 

Here’s what it looks like:

 

Winners (60% and up)

UTSA

Southern Miss

Rice

 

Toss ups (40-50%)

@Rice

@Marshall

UAB

Middle Tennessee

@FIU

Charlotte

UTSA

 

Need a Prayer (Less that 30%)

UTEP

@Charlotte

@Old Dominion

Louisiana Tech

Western Kentucky

@FAU

Old Dominion

@UTEP

 

So if you give UNT the (3) Winners and half of the Toss ups (4) you come up with 7 wins. That would be one more than last year and 13 for the year. That would be pretty disappointing if you ask me.

 

Now early in the season I hinted at this team struggling early on and picking up steam mid January. Is that still a possibility? Sure it is. North Texas had so many moving parts and new pieces to start the season. It takes time for basketball team to gel. We’ve seen them put together a nice win against Creighton. We’ve also seen them lose to a bad team in Prairie View A&M. The Prairie View loss is hard to swallow as a fan, but if you look around the college basketball landscape almost every team this year has a bad loss. Still was unacceptable in my eyes. So how can North Texas right the ship?

 

  1. Fix the offense

This offense has been atrocious for most of the season. Part of the problem has been not having a point guard. The other and bigger parts of the problem are bad shots and turnovers. When UNT takes care of the ball they can stay in most games. When they get sloppy it turns in the double digit losses. The bad shots are just from poor execution. I understand that sometimes you have to take a contested shot, but you don’t have to do it as much as UNT does. Too many times a North Texas player attacks the basket with no lane or opportunity to get off a good shot. It turns into a bad shot, foul, or a turnover.

 

  1. Create an unequal opportunity offense

Just because you get the ball doesn’t mean you should be taking shots. There are only a few guys on this team that I believe can be viable offensive weapons. Those are Jordan Williams, T.J Taylor, Jeremy Combs, and Maurice Aniefiok. I left Voss off because I believe he is more a role player and not a go to guy on offense.

 

  1. Better Penetration D

Numbers tell us that North Texas has a fairly good defense. Film tells us a different story. UNT has adopted the 3-2 & 2-3 zone this season. I like the fact that this is forcing teams to beat North Texas from deep, but I would like to see better execution. If you go back and watch the Creighton game you’ll see Creighton get into the lane whenever they wanted and then kicked it out for an open shot. Penetration is the easiest way to break down a zone. If UNT is struggling to stay in front of guys well then just sag back a little bit. I feel pretty confident that we have guys with enough athletic ability to make up space when needed.

 

 

UNT has a lot of work to do down the stretch if they want to make a run during conference play. They have guys with talent to make a run, but I’m not sold on the coaching. Coach Benford needs to start producing results on the court. The product at North Texas has been in steady decline ever since his hire. Fans have voiced their displeasure by simply not showing up to the games. I wonder if the AD is even paying attention to that. Students, alumni, and fans won’t show up simply because of some promotion or marketing gimmick. Only way to get fans in the stands is to win games.