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Football Football Recaps

Queen City Let Down: North Texas 38 Charlotte 39

Mason Fine threw for 5 TDs but it was not enough. NT needed two more points to win this thing and they were not there. This was the best offensive effort in some weeks for Mason Fine and HC Seth Littrell, but the defense was shredded late by a Charlotte team in its first year under Will Healy.

Charlotte has some talent — Benny LeMay ran the ball and caught the ball well, and for the first three weeks of this season the 49ers led the league in scoring. All that has been mostly forgotten the last couple of weeks — after getting smoked by Clemson (understandable) and beaten by FAU (self-inflicted).

In the 4th quarter, Charlotte’s effort and resilience were rewarded with a little luck and success. The key was obviously the final 34-yard TD to put them ahead by a point (the 2-point attempt failed after). North Texas had Charlotte pinned back deep but allowed two consecutive big pass plays to allow the score.

The pass rush was not there in time, and the secondary was too small for the big WRs.

Fine and company came up just short on a brilliant offensive day. All season we said this offense needed to be nearly-perfect to pull out wins and they were just short of that. The key failures in the 4th quarter aided the comeback effort. NT scored on a little out to Jaelon Darden late but it was called back because of penalties. The subsequent field goals attempt was blocked.

North Texas only scored three in the final frame.

Mason Fine threw for five scores — three of which went to Jyaire Shorter, who caught all three of his passes for scores and 111 yards. Jaelon Darden also continued his stellar play, grabbing 104 yards worth of passes and a score on a 68-yarder early. North Texas went deep early and often against the Charlotte secondary and it mostly worked.

The issue was that Charlotte kept scoring and NT didn’t keep it up in the final quarter.

This team was always imbalanced coming into the season. The defense is young and inexperienced, with transfers in the secondary trying to replace quality multi-year starter in some cases. The pass rush has been missing consistent pressure this season, also. The departed Ejiya was a leading sack-getter last season and no one really has stepped up in that place.

To be a threat, NT had to score like it did in 2016. Early this season that has not happened, to much gnashing of teeth and rending of garments.

This game, against a porous defense, NT looked something like the team that we hoped to see all season. Unfortunately, the offense did not get the luck it did even last season, when the would-be tying passes did not always get completed — that UTSA game? — or in 2016, when the offense was always able to deliver late even against poor odds.

Fine threw a deep seam route to Darden with 14 seconds left that, if complete, would have set up NT for a nice chip-shot field goal attempt. Instead, it was incomplete and the protestations for a flag were ignored.

The bright spots are these: WR Jyaire Shorter looked amazing and so did Jaelon Darden. Deonte Simpson and others also shone bright, giving us some hope for their development long term.

The bad news is that Mason Fine is very close to not having a chance to compete for his first bowl victory. NT is 3-5 and the schedule is tough.

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Football Football Recaps

Bear Attack Too Much for North Texas, Lose 17-23

BERKELEY, CA. — North Texas came into the game as underdogs and played like it to begin the game on a warm but nice California afternoon. Down 20-0 at the end of the first quarter, the contingent of Mean Green fans were antsy and thinking of the SMU game the week prior.

California was able to do the same type of things that the Mustangs did the week before: capitalize on single coverage on third downs, take advantage of penalties, and well, score.

Mason Fine and the offense were unable to muster much early, and things weren’t helped after Rico Bussey went down after nearly catching a ball thrown his way near the Cal sideline.

Tre Siggers still looks like a good option in the run game, powering through tackles and getting “should not” yards. In the end the comeback fell short. The defense got the stops it needed late — forcing a punt with just under 2 minutes left in the game after holding Cal to only 3-points in the final three quarters.

The offense did manage to get a touchdown when it needed one — a 4th-and–7 strike from Fine to Shorter to cut the lead to six. The Mean Green scored three in the first half and 14 in the second. Fine also hit Jaelon Darden on a bubble route that he took 68-yards for a score.

This was a missed opportunity as California was and is vulnerable but one that ultimately did not matter as much. The conference season begins next week against UTSA.

Offense

The much-maligned offense began slowly but with some new attacks. Adjusting to Cal’s 1-v-1 coverage (because of their quality secondary) the Mean Green tried to get the ball on the edge to their backs and to playmakers in space. Fine was hit and sacked too much and after Bussey went out there was no one that obviously stepped up to make plays in the pass game.

In the second half, there were seemingly some opportunities for up-temp action but NT moved a little slowly — even when trying to get the first of two needed touchdowns. Ultimately they scored when they needed one, but came up short on the other.

Mason Fine threw some questionable balls and also threw a terrible interception. Still, he is the best offensive player and he is in a tough position.

Defense

The defense had a different sort of challenge here. Cal’s RB Brown is 230 lbs and the Bears leaned on him throughout the game — especially after taking a lead. NT had Chase Garbers scramble, but he did manage to pick up a ton of first downs. Cal was able to take advantage of single-coverage and later, zone-backed three man fronts to pick up first downs.

This was going to be a test of physicality and not scheme. SMU’s Dykes and his staff are proven offensive schemers. Cal’s staff? Not so much that. There were fewer adjustments and NT’s lapses came because they were inexperienced and then the aggression did not pay off.

Hamilton, Johnson, LeBlanc played well, among others.

Coaching

Someone somewhere needs to stop the first quarter issue. Both Cal and SMU came out to 20+ point leads and while there were adjustments made, they made it harder on everyone.

Biagi’s group allowed a big return, but managed a FG and did not miss any kicks. Kenworthy pinned them back deep a couple of times.

Seth Littrell and Bodie Reeder have some questions to answer. On the podcast we speculated that it could be just a roster imbalance — young receivers and an 4th QB.

There is talent on the roster — Darden, Bussey, Siggers, Torrey, Easly et al. The idea that league play will bring some more even games is probable, but there are still good players in CUSA.

Next up:

UTSA at Apogee. The Roadrunners played NT well at the Alamodome to close out last season. The new offensive coordinator is bringing them out of the dark ages a bit, and they have some talent at QB now, but that has only shown twice in four games — NT last year, UIW this year. Against two good teams — Baylor and Army — they struggled to do much.

It is always difficult to gauge a team coming off a game against Army, but we know NT cannot take this game for granted. The record stands at 1-2 and this is a league game at home.

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Basketball Basketball Recaps

North Texas wins 76-75, Come Back From Down 16

Sometime during the initial five minutes of the game, I tweeted that North Texas could blow this thing open if they continued their way of playing. That did not happen.

I also wrote that any lead in this league is unsafe. This proved true. North Texas could not shoot at all through most of the game. They shot a miserable 35% from the floor to the point where they found themselves down 16 to Rice when Josh Parrish made a layup to make things 68-52 with 7:06 left.

From then on North Texas’ full-court press produced results and ultimately won the game for the Mean Green. Rice scored only seven more points in the final 7:06 while NT roared back thanks to timely steals, some late free throws, and layups.

The hero, if one can be found in a total team comeback, was Mike Miller. He scored 7 points down the stretch and played some good defense that included a clutch block in the final stretch.

Jordan Duffy, however, was the man who started things off with a big five points — a three pointer followed up by a layup + a FT attempt (missed).

The comeback was not without the benefit of fortune. Rice turned the ball over, made some bad decisions, and the refereeing went North Texas’ way in a number of possessions late. This, of course, is common when one team is the aggressor.

NT came into this one being the better team, but without having played particularly well for long stretches of the last few games. They had to mount a comeback before losing late to UTSA. They had to rally from a larger margin in this one.

Leading Scorers

  • Woolridge – 14 ponts 8 rebounds 4 assists
  • Duffy – 19 points 4 reb
  • Gibson – 15 points 2 assists

What It Means

North Texas is 17-2 and 5-1 on the season in conference play, which temporarily puts the Mean Green on top of the standings. Marshall and UTSA are currently playing.

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Football

Not So Special: Louisiana Tech 29 North Texas 27

DENTON — The North Texas Mean Green lost a heartbreaking game at home to one of the divisions’ best teams.

The day began with a little look into the future and an honoring of the past. NT broke ground on the new indoor practice facility and unveiled the Mean Joe Greene statue in front of his fellow Hall of Famers including Franco Harris.

It was a fitting ceremony for one of the schools’ greats. Then North Texas and Mason Fine jumped out to an early lead, looking like the powerhouse offensive team everyone presumed them to be.

The keys early were the runs from Easly and the lightning quick cuts from DeAndre Torrey. The duo combined on the final 1st quarter drive to slice up the Tech defense. Rico Bussey Jr. scored on a Mesh play. It was classic Air Raid — dink, dunk, and a lot of run-after-catch.

The idea of this offense is to get the ball to playmakers in space. North Texas has a lot of playmakers now, and it was difficult for the talented Tech defense to cope.

Then La Tech woke up.

A long TD drive following an even longer FG drive to put the Bulldogs within 5 late in the second. Tech found success throwing against Cam Johnson, the young sophomore corner filling in for the injured Kemon Hall — out with a shoulder injury in the first quarter. The referees were generously calling pass interference on some deep routes but Seth Littrell called the late hits and the penalties ‘undisciplined.’

In any case, they had the effect of taking the offense out of rhythm in the second quarter. After 21 quick points in the first, NT was held scoreless in a period for the first time in 17 quarters. They would repeat the feat in the fourth. More on that in a bit.

Rhashid Bonnette caught a ridiculous 34 yard grab where he leaped over Cam Johnson that put Tech in FG territory. That made things 19-21 with 1:30 left.

North Texas got a big play to Bussey and things looked good until a combination of bad luck: Torrey fumbled on a dump off. Tech punted but Darden muffed the punt on the five. Tech’s J’Mar Smith then threw a little five-yard pass for six points.

NT was now down 26-21 with :28 left in the game. NT got sacked and things felt like the UTSA game last season. NT started fast and then fell apart in the second quarter. Jaylon Ferguson ended the half with three sacks.

At halftime fans could reasonably expect some adjustments and a return to some of the things that were working in the first half.

There were adjustments made. Offensively, NT went with their heavier sets, bringing in an H-back to chip Ferguson and also provide a bit more heft in the running attack. Defensively, redshirt freshman cornerback Jordan Roberts started in place of Cam Johnson.

Presumably, this move was made to correct for some of Cam Johnson’s mistakes. Littrell said after, “we like Jordan Roberts. He’s physical, and has his eyes in the right place. We are excited about him.”

After an exciting first half featuring 47 total points scored, the second had just 9 — six for NT and three for Tech.

Through three quarters Tech had more yards — 336 to 319 — more plays — 62 to 50 — , and more luck — they had two recoveries. North Texas could not get more than the third quarter touchdown. The subsequent two-point try fell just short. Replays in the press box showed clearly that Darden was short of the TD.

North Texas had two really great drives in the final quarter, a period where the offense put up 108 yards on 8-11 passing and ran 22 plays to Tech’s 9. Two drives to get the necessary points to win the game and two missed field goals. The first was bounced off the left upright, as Cole Hedlund over-corrected on his kick from the right hash from 41 with 12:36 in the fourth. His second was the sealing play: Amik Robertson blocked the Hedlund kick attempt from 46 and only :33 left in the game.

North Texas Offense

If you are a box-score watcher, you see good numbers. North Texas was not amazing, but there were very nice things in the first quarter. Mason Fine was kept clean early, for the most part, and found his guys for big yards. The backs made plays and made people miss.

The long drought without touching the ball and the adjustments by Tech killed the rhythm in the second. Late in the half, when NT found Rico Bussey, Jr. along the sideline for 35 yards, it it flipped the field and put the Mean Green at the Tech 25. The Torrey fumble gave Tech the ball at the NT 35. A defensive stop — drove Tech back a yard — forced a punt that was muffed at the five.

NT went from scoring range to — at best, if Darden caught it — their own five. Field position is incredibly important. The final drive saw NT move from deep in their own position — again, poor field position — and come up just short. While Nic Smith was great getting yards, he was not the equal of Loren Easly when it came to short yardage.

NT could not get the necessary yards to get closer, extend the drive, and possibly score six instead of attempting three.

The litte things against a good team are important. Seth Littrell felt his offense got behind the chains and did not perform all the way to their standards.

North Texas Defense

This group held Tech to five field goals, practically shut down Tech in the second-half, and gave the offense one final shot to win things in the fourth quarter. Realistically, that is all that can be asked of a team.

J’Mar Smith was as advertised: he was not efficient, but he was tough to bring down and found his playmakers when he could. The secondary was reacting well but found it hard to guard the talented WRs that Tech had. This was to be expected, but they held their own with an emergency sub at corner to boot. Kemon Hall has been great, and Tech took advantage of his absence.

EJ Ejiya talked some about not being able to get to the quarterback enough, lauding the offensive line of the Bulldogs for keeping J’Mar upright for most of the night. It is true. He had too much time to throw all night even though he didn’t always capitalize on every opportunity.

NT Special Teams

This group came in as the highest ranked unit of the three: at 6th in Bill Connelly’s S&P+ for special teams. Hedlund had hit 10/10 field goals thus far, and the return teams were great. Darden’s muff and the two missed field goals are going to be remembered forever and with good reason.

Elsewhere, Torrey looked dangerous on kickoffs.

Overall

Tech’s players made more individual plays. Seth Littrell lamented the number of ‘explosives’ the defense gave up, and talked up the little mistakes that the offense made to make it more difficult. Let’s give some credit to the Bulldog team. Rhashid Bonnette’s leaping grab over Cam Johnson will be gif’d for a long time. Amik Robertson’s block was a feat. Jaylon Ferguson’s four sacks were literally game-changing.

What It Means

North Texas is in a tough spot. They need Tech to lose twice and to win out themselves. This was billed as possibly the division title game and it looks like it has been so. If you take a peek at the CUSA Scoreboard you will think again, however. Anyone can jump up and bite any team in this league. This is not only just college football but CUSA we are talking about this year.

North Texas has a reasonable shot at good things if they win the rest of the league games. UAB and USM are good enough to beat anyone, and there is still the looming FAU game in November. Nothing is over yet, even if NT is clearly looking for help from other squads.

This was an epic game with a program-record crowd. North Texas had three players come up gimpy: Mason Fine and his leg, Kemon Hall and his shoulder, Loren Easly and his leg. Meanwhile both EJ Ejiya and Taylor Robinson had to sit for a few plays after being helped off the field.

Attrition is a part of this game, and truly good programs have enough depth to step up and continue things. Mason Fine is quite clearly the best QB on the team, but the true test of Seth Littrell’s program-building ability will be if he can find someone to step up and win a game for NT not wearing 6.

North Texas is tied with Rice and UTEP in the basement of CUSA West. La Tech, UAB, USM, and UTSA all have one conference win.

Next Up

UTEP hosts NT. The Miners are winless after a failed comeback attempt in San Antonio on Saturday. Old friend Mike Canales coordinates the Miners and there should be a lot of familiarity with the play calls and offensive design.

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Football Football Recaps

That’ll Do Pig: North Texas 44 Arkansas 17

Ladies and gentleman your North Texas Mean Green are 3-0 and just beat an SEC squad on the road. There is precious little to point at and be angry about, but we’ll do our best.

For the time being, we can celebrate. If you remember the last time NT played Arkansas and lost 66-7 — hell if you remember the last time nT played Portland State you are thoroughly enjoying this win over the Razorbacks.

North Texas is 3-0 for the first time in decades, and beat a P5 team on the road for the first time since 1999. This was the first P5 win since 2011 (Indiana at Apogee). All of that is cool and important but pales in comparison to the fact that NT could beat any number of P5 teams with the way they are playing right now.

Add to the above the fact that Chad Morris had North Texas’ number the last few years, and NT was always just a year or two behind the development of SMU at the time. This season NT has ended that three-game SMU win streak and then beat the man that had coached them for those three games.

If you read the season preview, you knew that the key question was the defense. The thinking was that DC Troy Reffett’s crew had the ability to at least occasionally slow the opposition and in so doing would give the explosive offense some room to breathe.

Instead, they have taken it to the next level and have dominated the competition. Has that competition been bad? Yes, unquestionably so. This Arkansas team is the worst in a half-decade at least. The level of competition cannot be controlled, but the way that this team competes and dominates that level can be.

The Mean Green have dominated three straight overmatched opponents the way good teams are expected to do so. The way they have done so has been surprising. For all of Mason Fine’s counting stats, he has been slightly less efficient than is ideal. He had a good game today but Arkansas’ defensive line was able to knock down passes and break up some potential TD drives.

The defense meant that Mason Fine had little to worry about, helping he and the offense with short fields and six interceptons. Yes, that is right. The tally was one short of the school record — set in 1971 against Wichita St at 7 INTs — and came largely through the exploitation of man-to-man matchups and pressure on the QB.

It is surprising that the game plan in an SEC matchup was for one team to go ‘man’ and bring pressure, challenging the opponent to out-talent the defense. It is even more surprising that the team that did so was the underdog CUSA squad.

The Game

Arkansas punted after five plays thanks to good defense by CB Nate Brooks and Safety Khairi Muhammad. North Texas got an early penalty and then had a call reversed that forced a punt. Then Brooks picked off Ark QB Cole Kelley and gave Mason Fine a short field to operate. Fine pushed in for 2 yards after a quick 7-play 44 yard drive.

Then NT forced a punt and got the play of the day.

Keegan Brewer faked the fair catch “The UnFair Catch” and returned it for 90 yards and a TD. That play did more than the win for virality. The entire internet was seemingly talking about the game and when checking on the score found out that NT was kicking ass. NT forced another interception (Khairi) and got a field goal out of things.

There was some concern at this point that NT was maybe not getting enough out of the pass game.

The teams traded punts before Arkansas scored on a 7-play 61 yard drive for a score. NT punted again after four plays and then Arkansas managed another FG, this time from 54 yards. It was 17-10 NT at this point and North Texas was not doing too much to impress offensively.

NT punted again, after a questionable holding call that nullified a 48-yard TD strike to Rico Bussey. NT punted, but Nate Brooks intercepted the very next Kelley pass.

Then NT put all the talk to rest as he tossed a 31-yard pass to Jalen Guyton to get NT down to the Arkansas 3. Loren Easly then scooted in from three. The next drive Arkansas missed a chip-shot field goal that NT answered with a 7-yard TD strike to Bussey to make it 31-10 after a 8-play 80 yard drive.

NT forced another punt and then drove for a half-ending FG that made things 34-10.

From then on, it was extended garbage time. North Texas opened the half with a long, 14-play 72 yard drive that ate 5:34 and added another FG to extend things. Arkansas would turn the ball over three more times in the half and would only get a 68-yard run from Maleek Williams to add to the score. By then North Texas had backups in the game and was trying to run the ball out.

Defense

The defense held Arkansas to 336 yards and only 210 passing and intercepted the three quarterbacks a combined six times. Starter Cole Kelley had 4 himself. The Razorbacks managed just 4 yards per play, and 3.9 yards per rush. By contrast, they came in averaging 435 yards per game and 189 rushing, including 4.21 yards per rush and 6.17 yards per play.

Three games in North Texas has faced a G5, an FCS, and an SEC team and has looked the better, more ferocious side in each matchup. NT came in allowing only 19.5 points per game and held Arkansas to 17. The Mean Green are holding teams to 5.36 per play and held Arkansas to 4.4. I point these things out to say that while the turnovers were a little more inflated than we can expect (six interception is not replicable) the defense played up to their standards.

That is an incredible statement to make, but it is all truth. North Texas has shown it has a good defense this season, with LBs EJ Ejiya and Brandon Garner flying around the field and making plays in the backfield. The duo combined for five tackles for loss (TFLs) and two sacks.

Add to that the play of the defensive lineman and it is no wonder that Reffett thought he could go man coverage with success. The pressure was in the Razorback QBs faces, and they could not get on the same page with their receivers. Kemon Hall nearly had two other interceptions to add to his pick-six.

If this defense can play even 80% of this level, the league looks mighty winnable.

Offense

Mason Fine did not get gaudy numbers, but he did show some pretty soft touch and nice accuracy among other quality QB play. He was good, and as advertised, but he was hurried 9 times and sacked.

Mason ended the night at 24 of 45 for 281 and 1 score and a 113.1 rating. His passes were tipped at the line at a high rate, but that was the extent of the vaunted Arkansas defensive line’s success. In another version of this game where the defense does not play as well, people are killing Mason Fine and the offense for this performance. So it goes in this game.

The run game was still a bit too quiet, as RB Loren Easly carried 13 for 68 with most of that in garbage time. The short yardage runs are effective, however, and that allows the pass game to do its thing. The pass game is still the primary weapon and it is firing on most, if not all, cylinders and so we will not worry too much here.

WR Jaelon Darden had five grabs for 87 yards on 8 targets, TE Kelvin Smith had 5 for 60 on 5 targets, and Rico Bussey had 5 for 27 and a score on 11 targets.

Arkansas could not press cover or play zone and were it not for the defensive line this thing could have been even worse. All told North Texas only managed 376 yards and were a whole yard under their season average yards per play at 5 in this game. With the short fields and the time and score consideration, this was not a terrible performance. NT scored in important moments and got points. They were able to move the ball efficiently and controlled the game.

Special Teams

Whoo. Marty Biagi deserves a ton of credit and the entire staff apparently let the ref know that they were going to try to trick the Hogs. It was bold and it worked. We all expected a closer game and any little edge helps things when an underdog is playing. All told, combined with the poor offensive performance and the early NT TD drive, this play took the winds out of the sails and turned the crowd against the home team.

What It Means

It means it is time to celebrate. It has been a long time since NT could go toe-to-toe with a P5 team (no matter how bad) and bully them around. The old timers no doubt have told you all about the wins over Baylor and other teams back in the day and now we have our own tale to discuss forever.

Beyond that, NT is halfway to six wins and another bowl appearance. Remember when that was a lofty goal? I do also. NT is nearly there with at least 10 games to go.

3-0 feels really good, but it means little on the way to the league title. Liberty is a good team that can score and will challenge this very quality NT defense before Louisiana Tech comes in to Denton. That game is as important as last year’s UTSA game was, an early battle that determines the division race leader.

That is for later. Right now, let us enjoy this win.

Arkansas Fans

MGN had to stay home, but had friends out in Fayetteville where they report that the Hog fans were extremely cool and received all the green fans with open arms. We can empathize with their current plight, and it was not that long ago that NT was emptying the stadium in disgust. Thanks to those folks for their hospitality.

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Football Football Recaps

One More FAU Thought

We have to close the book on the last game. It will be useful to look back when and if the time comes where FAU is the opponent. Until then there is much to play for and little to learn from continually picking at the scab.

Still, lots of questions were asked, fireings were suggested, and cool was lost. That is understandable considering the circumstances: North Texas allowed 804 yrds of offense and 69 points. There are things that can be learned.

1) What happened with the defense?

Well, a few things happened. We’ll focus on the first half. Broadly they are these: The offense did them no favors. They were tired. They were not in position. They were unlucky.

To begin things, Mason Fine stumbled and Jeff Wilson bobbled the exchange on 4th down. On the next drive Mason Fine threw an ugly interception. (No favors)

FAU got the ball in good positon and quickly. FAU continued to quickly run their offense, with only little resistance. Because so much of their offense is short passes and inside runs, it is very easy to run quickly. This tired the defense quickly.

Jason Driskel ran his offense with little pressure in his face, and the runs were not stuffed in the backfield. Troy Reffett could not get penetration with his front three/four, and brought pressure. FAU was ready for this and had slant/flat combos, short screens, quick outs, and mesh plays to counter these.

For Driskel, it was pitch-and-catch. They mixed in one or two deep tries and hit the big one early.

So what little pressure there was was slowing and what little flow to the ball was slowing as FAU kept the tempo high. It is like doing high intensity interval training. Sure, it was just a few more minutes than NT had the ball but it was quick and intense. (Tired)

Finally, even early when NT had energy, there were breakdowns. FAU faked a read option and instead lead with the back. Instead of reading the end — in this case Ashton Preston — Buddy Howell would lead fake taking the handoff — which would make NT’s backs flow with him — but then cut back and lead for Driskel. EJ Ejiya would then have to flow the farthest to make the stop, as Preston force the run inside. This is how Driskel was the leading rusher early. Aside from that, Garner and McMasters missed tackles. That was being out of position.

The last realistic shot NT had of getting back in this thing was when down 24-7 and forcing a 3rd and long. The refs did not call the receiver down, and McClain tried to strip the ball. It bounced forward and FAU recovered just two yards short of the marker and went for it. They got it and would go on to score with the same offense. NT looked beat, the offense then threw yet another interception (on a clear PI) and then the rout was on. (This was the unlucky and more fatigue)

2) What happened with the offense?

The line was dominated, Mason Fine was inaccurate, and FAU was more excited to play.

NT’s line has been doing a decent job keeping Mason Fine upright, and only looked vulnerable against UTSA’s future NFLer Marcus Davenport. In this one, the line allowed a little too much trash in Fine’ space which made him scramble a bit more. He is not the best when running and throwing (few are) and he threw his first INT while getting hit in the face. (Line dominated, MF innaccurate).

Also on that pick, Rico Bussey kind of let the ball be intercepted. Did he know the DB was right near him? That was either poor effort or poor awareness. Either way, it resulted in an easier interception than was warranted. (FAU more excited to play)

3) Coaching mistakes?

Yes. Seth Littrell was really weird in his messaging after the game and at this week’s press conference. He suggested the reason the team was poor was ‘overconfidence’ but suggested the team had a good week of practice. Where, exactly was the overconfidence on display? It seemed like FAU had answers and enthusiasm for everything and were confident in their ability to execute their game plan. That’s good coaching.

Without having direct access to the practices, dorms, and private moments of each and every member of the staff and squad, it is impossible for anyone to say what, exactly, was the direct impact of overconfidence on the game.

I think everyone assumes he meant the players, but I have a feeling he meant the staff as well. He has also mentioned he wants to give the ball to Jeff more. Jeff Wilson had room, and could have really had a big day if he were featured more. Obviously this comes down to overall offensive execution, as more first downs mean more opportunity for Jeff and everyone. Still, he and Guyton were contained without too much effort by FAU.

There are a lot of similarities between the Briles offense and the Air Raid, in that the core philosophy is of execution at tempo. FAU executed their handful of plays beautifully and flawlessly. NT did not. A good portion of that had to do with the belief in the scheme. FAU came out and played like they knew exactly what they wanted to do and how, and with full confidence that it would work.

Defensively, NT looked like they were reacting instead of setting the pace. This is in stark contrast to the attacking, pressing, defense that Reffett wants to coordinate. Sure, we can probably point fingers at the players but that is the easy thing to do. If we know anything about Briles and Kiffin is that they have coordinated good offenses in their careers. That they produced a unit that executed and put up very large numbers is unsurprising.

Our staff did not have any answers for that.

On the other end, NT’s offensive gurus were shut down for the first half. FAU’s coaches had answers for our questions.

Even if it was simply desire and confidence, those are coaching areas. Nick Saban spends his entire time obsessing about the appropriate attitude for winning. If this team was overconfident, then it is not unreasonable to ask if the appropriate measures were taken during the week to correct for that. That’s also coaching.

Honestly, there is little shame in getting beaten. If the other staff outschemed and outprepared you, that happens. Littrell is early enough in his career where this will not be the first time this kind of thing happens, although I do not think it will be to this level of rout.

ReWatch the FAU first half if you must, here, while it is available.

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MGN Podcast

87: Reality Check in Boca

Adam tries to rationalize the loss in Boca Raton, in which the Mean Green allowed 804 yards of offense.

Click here for the podcast feed. That should get you everything you need. You can play the episode from there or subscribe via your favorite podcast catcher.

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