Sun-Herald: Fine is Good

Patrick Magee of the Sun-Herald has something like a preview of the game

“Last year, I got a couple of hits on him and he’s still getting it off,” USM redshirt junior defensive end Jacques Turner said. “It’s like you didn’t even hit him. We’ve just got to try to get him with the ball.”

This is an incredibly important game for both teams. Coming into this season the four teams with a realistic shot were North Texas, Southern Miss, UAB, and Tech. That is in no particular order because I could see any one of those teams getting hot at the right time and making the big run.

Each team has a weakness and some of them are even glaring.

UAB has already stumbled in conference play against WKU. There are question marks around their run game. QB Tyler Johnston III is throwing lots of interceptions — 4 against WKU and 2 against Rice — and Spencer Brown is hurt and has not gotten loose against anyone. The defense led by Garrett Marino is still tremendous, however.

LaTech is still the tough, talented team we all saw last season but with a slightly different configuration. A loss to them is understandable, and yet they always look like they are playing down to their opponent.

In the story above, there is much mention of the lack of sacks from the USM squad. That works in NT’s favor. The biggest problems in the Littrell era have come from teams with strong defensive lines. They can get the pressure on Mason Fine while still committing many defenders to his targets.

USM QB Jack Abraham is good, and NT will have to find a way to deal with his many weapons. This is a big game.

CUSA Stuff

MGN Discovers Hattiesburg

And you may find yourself in another part of the world

– Talking Heads

About eight years ago I found myself in a Mini Cooper, having joined up with a future friend on his two-thirds-cross-country trip. Along the trip I made jokes about Mississippi that are only funny to those who haven’t spent a good portion of their lives in the Magnolia State. When in the company of people who know so much about their state, you realize how little you know about a place. We were driving to Jackson and I wondered aloud if we were driving through or near Hattiesburg.


“That’s like two hours south of Jackson.”

Who would have thunk it? Anyway, I am tickled by the thought of encountering a place that has been around far longer than myself and looking at it with what must surely be the same selfish obliviousness that filled the ‘discoverers’ of America. I suppose the only difference here is that I was aware of it, and indulged in it fully.

“Look guys, I have discovered Mississippi in the name of Texas.”

It is with that selfsame attitude that I bring to you a glorified reading of the Hattiesburg wikipedia page.

Hattiesburg Fun Facts

  • Founded in 1882 by William Hardy, named the town after his wife Hattie.
  • Called the ‘Hub City’ because it was an early center for lumber and railroad.
  • About 35 minutes from Laurel, MS where friend-of-this-blog serves coffee.
  • 45,989 people call the town home

The Mayor

This guy.

Famous People Hailing From Hattiesburg

  • Fred Armison, SNL and Portlandia dude
  • Jimmy Buffett, lover of margaritas
  • Vernon Dahmer, NAACP leader that was murdered by KKK in 1966
  • Brett Favre, lover of wrangler jeans
  • Tim Floyd, basketball coach
  • Ray Guy, HOF punter
  • A Blue Man Group dude
  • Danny Manning, basketball HOFer
  • Probably someone else you know


Let us say you were forced to move to Hattiesburg. Where would you work? Well, here is this from the wikipedia:

Hattiesburg is home to several national business branches that hold thousands of jobs across the Pine Belt. It was headquarters to the now defunct International Filing Company.

There are a few distribution centers. Also:

The main shopping mall is Turtle Creek Mall

Southern Miss

Like nearly every CUSA school, this was a Normal college in the beginning. This portion stood out to me, glaringly so:

In 1954 the United States Supreme Court ruled in Brown v. Board of Education that segregation of public schools was unconstitutional. But when Clyde Kennard, a black Korean War veteran, attempted to enroll at Mississippi Southern in the late 1950s, McCain made major efforts with the state political establishment and local black leaders to prevent it. Kennard was turned down three times. After he wrote letters about educational integration to the local paper, he was twice arrested on trumped-up criminal charges; he was eventually convicted and sentenced to seven years in the state prison.

Dr. McCain’s direct involvement in this abuse of the justice system is unclear. He was likely aware that the charges against Kennard were fraudulent, but neither he nor other public officials made any objection.

Kennard was finally released on parole in 1963, when he was terminally ill with cancer. He died six months later

Here is the poem Kennard wrote and had read at his funeral:

He had titled the poem “Ode to the Death Angel:”

Oh here you come again
Old chilly death of Ol’
To plot out life
And test immortal soul
I saw you fall against the raging sea
I cheated you then and now you’ll not catch me
I know your face
It’s known in every race
Your speed is fast
And along the way
Your shadow you cast
High in the sky
You thought you had me then
I landed safely
But here you are again
I see you paused upon that forward pew
When you think I’m asleep
I’m watching you
Why must you hound me so everywhere I go?
It’s true my eyes are dim
My hands are growing cold
Well take me on then, that
I might at last become my soul

In 2006 his wrongful convictions were eventually overturned and he was pardoned. The pardon fight was not easy and was contested by everyone from white supremacists to the Governor and the state parole board. The university named its student services building after Clyde Kennard in 1993.

In 1972, the school changed the athletics name from the very generic Southerners to Golden Eagles. The school is relatively highly ranked and you would not be throwing your money away if you attended.

You may remember the dispute that began in 2003 wherein the Iowa Hawkeyes were displeased that USM attempted to trademark their newest logo. Read about it here. This weekend Southern Miss is sporting their 1997 duds in honor of that team.

What To Eat?

Well let us say you wanted lunch and were around the university. You could go to Strick’s Bar-BQ which offers “Homey BBQ eatery offering boiled crawfish, po’ boys & other Southern bites amid country murals”

Or perhaps you want your food now. Wel, there is Po-Boy Express, home of the Steak Bomb (and the worst logo ever).

Elsewhere the map shows me a Shoney’s, which is intriguing for self-harm reasons. I also see a T-Bones Records & Cafe, which piques my interest thoroughly.

What To Drink?

The map lists Longhorn Steakhouse and Applebees as places to get your fill , and that is disappointing. I am sure there is a fine establishment someplace, but it is not in the immediate vicinity of the school.

What To Do?

Depending on your time and inclinations, there is the African American Military History Museum which sounds intriguing. There is the Oddfellows Gallery for art, and the Sarah Ellen Gillespie Museum of Art as well.

Of course, New Orleans is a mere 2 hours away. You can always do that.

Cool place. Probably should be named after me now that I have discovered it.

CUSA Stuff

CUSA Week 1 Recap

I sat down to write up a little CUSA recap but Alex Nicholas at Miner Rush did it already.

So I will just mention that I voted WKU 1st, So Miss 2nd, and MTSU 3rd in the poll they run. WKU looks like a complete team although they were only going against Rice. Louisiana Tech and Southern Miss impressed against SEC competition even if Kentucky is barely SEC in quality. FAU and UTSA were less than impressive against FCS competition.

Yes, I realize our favorite team was obliterated last season by FCS Portland State last season and any LULZ will only attract some our way. For what it is worth I expect a close-isa game against Bethune-Cookman next week.

CUSA Stuff Football

C-USA Preseason Power Rankings & Ratings

6 FIU 77.0
8 FAU 76.4
9 UTEP 75.8
10 RICE 75.0
12 UTSA 71.6
5 UTEP 79.1
6 FIU 76.9
11 UTSA 75.3
12 FAU 71.0
13 RICE 70.9
2 FAU 85.1
7 FIU 75.9
8 UTEP 73.9
9 UTSA 73.9
11 RICE 73.3

MGN CUSA Power Rankings: Week 9

CUSA Power Rankings Week 9

MGN Podcast

50: The Other SMU

Adam and Greg woke up early to look at the Southern Miss game.

MGN Podcast is the Official Podcast of the Unofficial UNT sports blog Mean Green Nation!

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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CUSA Stuff Football

CUSA Looking Strong After Week One

2015 will only be our third season in CUSA. There’s been lots of turnover but I’m finally feeling comfortable with our neighbors. Also, I’m finally rooting for them in non-conference play.

With Marshall yet to play (Sunday game against Purdue) as of this writing, the conference has performed at a solid A- level. Let us review the happenings with the following caveat in mind: One week doesn’t tell us much of anything

Tally: 7 wins 4 Losses (two moral victories and one great effort) and one to go.

Thursday Games

UTSA 32 (22) Arizona 42


UTSA has racked up more moral victories in the last five years than any other CUSA team. You can even put them up with that FCS team that beats up on Iowa every year. Here we have another. UTSA was projected by nearly everyone to be godawful. They’ve proved (much to our chagrin) that they can jump up and bite occasionally. They’ve put a scare into Okie State and Arizona the last couple of years and went to Houston and won on the road last year. It seems the Roadrunner’s kryptonite is merely expectation. When they are underdogs they perform. They out-gained Rich Rod’s high octane offense and Blake Bogenschutz looked good enough to make some other teams wonder if they were wrong about overlooking the guy.

WKU 14 Vandy 12


Beating an SEC team sounds great until you name the team you beat. ‘Bama? Well, that’s going down in program lore. Kentucky or Vanderbilt? Well that’s the kissin’ your sister variety of accomplishment. Western will be asked about the offensive disappearance but a win is a win. Make no mistake, their marketing team is all over the SEC win. Remember how we never heard the end of the praise for beating Indiana (a Big Ten win!)? That’s what is happening there, you guys.

FIU 15 UCF 14


Oh Florida. I can’t really be surprised at anything that happens out there. FIU’s defense and special teams won the game. The D held UCF to only 295 yards, got a goal line stand that saved the day and the special teams blocked the game winning kick in the final minute. UCF went to a bowl last season and had something like a 10-game win streak at home. They didn’t play well but give FIU lots of credit here.

Friday Game

Charlotte 23 Georgia State 20


Charlotte got the program’s first FBS touchdown and win on an oddly timed Friday matchup with awful Georgia State. The stadium was mostly empty to see it, unfortunately. GSU only made it interesting late, by scoring a 53-yard TD with 30 seconds left. Charlotte won’t have a great season but they got a nice start.

Saturday Games

ODU 38 EMU 35


ODU had to win this one in the final minute but they pulled it out. This was nothing to be particularly proud of outside of the win, but that’s why we play the games right? For wins?

FAU 44 Tulsa 47 (OT)


Oh Owls! They led 38-28 early in the fourth quarter and just couldn’t do enough to put a struggling Tulsa team away. In OT, they managed to come up just short of scoring six and settled for a FG. By the time Tulsa powered their way through for the winning score, FAU was literally exhausted. They were losing bodies to injuries in the heat as talented freshman after talented freshman were lost.

UTEP 13 (18) Arkansas 48


Both Greg and I thought this game would be won in Arkansas’ favor, but with a smaller margin of victory. UTEP and the Hogs play similar styles and they just don’t have the talent to beat Arkansas at their own game.

MSST 34 Southern Miss 16


A sold out stadium and 311 yards from Nick Mullens weren’t enough to beat “State” as my Mississippi-raised friend calls them. A moral victory will suffice. If the Other SMU plays to this level when they aren’t facing an in-state big-brother school they’ll do some damage this season.

Rice/LaTech/MTSU average of 62.7 Wagner/Jackson St/Southern avg of 15

Beatdowns of teams that should be beaten down. Nothing surprising here.1

Sunday Games

Purdue at Marshall (-7.5)

The darlings of CUSA get to defend their home turf against a Big Ten opponent.

  1. Rice 56 LaTech 62 MTSU 70 Wagner 16 Jackson ST 14 Southern 15 

Thoughts on the 2015 UNT Football Schedule


North Texas released its 2015 football schedule yesterday and lets just say its not to pleasing to the fans or players. Who can be happy about 5 home games, 1 game in November, and a bye week in right off the start? Oh well we are just going to have to deal with it. So instead of bashing the AD ( who deserves 99% of the blame for the atrocious schedule and who the BOR and President should be putting some serious heat on to do a better job) lets breakdown each opponent with some thoughts.



2014 Record 1-11

Returning Starters– 15 ( 8 Offense; 7 Defense )

Initial Thoughts: SMU is going to be much improved under Chad Morris. Their offense should be able to manage more than 6 points against the UNT defense. Its a tough game to start the season on the road against a team with a new coach. Maybe Baylor will beat SMU up and make the task much easier for UNT.

Bottom Line: Its Winnable



2014 Record 8-5

Returning Starters– 10 ( 6 Offense; 4 Defense )

Initial Thoughts: Rice always has a solid team. They will return QB Driphus Jackson, but lose 2 play makers in WR Jordan Taylor and Mario Hull. This game is the biggest game of the season. UNT has to start off conference play on the right foot this year.

Bottom Line: Its a Must WIN



2014 Record 7-6

Returning Starters– 13 ( 6 Offense; 7 Defense )

Initial Thoughts: Iowa is historically a slow starting team. So realistically UNT has a chance for the upset. I say that with the assumption that DaMarcus Smith has established himself as a solid starting QB.

Bottom Line: Its a Game We SHOULD Be In


@Southern Miss

2014 Record 3-9

Returning Starters- 13 ( 6 Offense; 7 Defense )

Initial Thoughts: Nick Mullens destroyed UNT last year as a SO. If he continues his progression as a player this is going to be a tough road game. There will also be some pressure on Todd Monken to win this year aswell. I think Southern Miss is one of those teams that could surprise in CUSA West this year.

Bottom Line: Its Winnable but a Road Game


Portland St.

2014 Record 3-9

Initial Thoughts: Not sure we can match the Nicholls production, but I foresee about 50 points on the score board for this one.

Bottom Line: We Will Win Book IT


Western Kentucky

2014 Record 8-5

Returning Starters– 16 ( 8 Offense; 8 Defense )

Initial Thoughts: The 2014 CUSA MVP Brandon Doughty roles into town with what will be the best offense in CUSA. The Hilltoppers are going to litter the field with play makers. Leon Allen doesnt get the respect he deserves, but that dude can ball. Going to be tough to beat this team unless UNT has a good offense and great defense.

Bottom Line: Its a Rivalry Game, but a Loss



2014 Record 13-1

Returning Starters– 11 ( 6 Offense; 5 Defense )

Initial Thoughts: Doc Holiday can coach and even though he is losing Rakeem Cato he still will have a good team. This team is going to be led by RB Devon Johnson and WR Davonte Allen. Each year Marshall also signs top 5 recruiting classes in CUSA.

Bottom Line: Its a Road Game Loss



2014 Record 4-8

Returning Starters– 5 ( 2 Offense; 3 Defense )

Initial Thoughts: UTSA is coming off a supremely disappointing season in which they were supposed to challenge for a CUSA crown. Instead they ran through tons of QBs and maxed out their potential. Now they must replace nearly all the starters, but Coaker has done a decent job recruiting. Will be interesting to see if they bounce back.

Bottom Line: Its Time to Beat These Guys


@Louisiana Tech

2014 Record 9-5

Returning Starters– 12 ( 7 Offense; 5 Defense )

Initial Thoughts: La Tech hit on all cylinders last year. They get Kenneth Dixon back and a good amount of the OL. The only question mark for them is QB. I’m not sold on Jeff Driskel. I think DaMarcus Smith is actually a better prospect than Driskel. Tech will probably be picked to win CUSA West.

Bottom Line: I Smell an Upset



2014 Record 7-6

Returning Starters– 18 ( 10 Offense; 8 Defense )

Initial Thoughts: Tennessee is going to be a trendy pic to win the SEC East this year. Butch Jones is maybe starting to turn a corner with that program. Tough for UNT to go onto the road and win. Can they compete, sure I dont think Tennessee is a top 10 team at that point in the season. They should be a top 25 team no doubt. Only way UNT sneaks up and grabs a victory is if Tennessee over  looks the Mean Green and looks forward to Mizzou.

Bottom Line: No Chance its a Loss


@Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders

2014 Record 6-6

Returning Starters– 13 ( 6 Offense; 7 Defense )

Initial Thoughts: Another tough road game for UNT. UNT doesn’t play well in Murfreesboro. Austin Grammer will be looking for pay back after that huge hit he took against the Mean Green in 2013.

Bottom Line: Its Winnable but a Road Game



2014 Record 7-6

Returning Starters– 12 (6 Offense; 6 Defense )

Initial Thoughts: Its a great foe to end the season with. Last year UTEP just absolutely abused UNT physically. It will be interesting to see who UTEP has at QB. Both these teams are very similar in style. Its going to be a good old fashioned, Grade-A slobberknocker. 

Bottom Line: Its Winnable


Final Thought: Right now the way the schedule shakes out its going to be tough for UNT to make it to bowl eligible. Tough, but not impossible. On the low side I see UNT coming away with 4 wins. On the high side I see UNT coming away with 7 wins. QB DaMarcus Smith could be the difference between bowl eligible and not. UNT can’t expect to get about 4 wins with the same quality of QB play in 14 so Smith’s emergence in greatly needed. Remember though we are months away from really having any feeling on how UNT might look. Even then remember that UNT was picked to finish 1st in CUSA west last year. The west division in CUSA can be a tricky one to predict.

Basketball Basketball Recaps

Shooting the Area Code J (10 Thoughts from Last Nights Game in the 940)

I don’t like to jump into doing quick recaps of games that’s why we had no post last night. I like to let the dust settle and let my emotions cool off before telling Mean Green Nation how I felt about a game. Quick recaps are great and all, but they just give you a synopsis of what happened with no analysis and no break down. Not my cup of tea. Instead I prefer to hit you with a solid dime (pass) of my thoughts the morning after.

  1. That was big win for Tony Benford and his Mean Green basketball team no doubt about it. It was pretty at times and sloppy at others, but in the end it was a W. Two of Benford’s biggest victories as a head coach have come this season. He needs more of those to keep rolling in.
  2. The first half was a thing of beauty. UNT was executing on offense as well as I’ve seen under Benford. They kept their TO’s down (4). They handled the full court pressure well. They also hit every shot they took, well almost. Shooting 72% in the first half is almost unheard of. Not sure what every player’s pre-game meal or ritual was, but they need to keep that up.
  3. Second half was as ugly as they come. For the life of me I cant figure out why this team can be so on in the first half and so off in the second half. This isn’t  the first time its happened. They’ve played tough against good teams in the first half only to fall apart in the second. So far this season North Texas has been outscored 692-578 in the second half this season. Coach Benford whatever you do at half time you need to change it up. It just doesn’t work.
  4. Consider this UNT’s win probability to start the game was about 15%. At halftime that jumped to 90%. With 10 mins left it went back down to 65%. With seven minutes left it fell even further to 35%. That is a wild swing. Luckily UNT was able to hold off the comeback and come out with a W.
  5. La Tech came into the game averaging 75.6 PPG and was the most efficient offense in CUSA. UNT locked them down and kept them quite for most of the night. North Texas did a great job of limiting fast break opportunities. They got back and got settled in their zone. Tech was content on trying to beat them from deep instead of penetrating. Its a good offensive strategy when you’re making those deep shots, but when you shoot 28% from down town its not.
  6. Jeremy Combs played a grown mans game last night. I love this kid’s aggressiveness and drive that he plays with. When you show up to watch a North Texas basketball game there is one thing I promise you will see. That is Combs hustling and playing hard. His gritty, tough play down the stretch helped seal this big win. The deflection and tip in to close the book on Tech was as clutch as they come.  Now Son just make your free throws!
  7. Colin Voss had a Colin Voss type of game. It wasn’t fancy or remembered by many, but it was solid. If Voss is scoring then it usually means its going to be a good night for UNT. It was also nice to see T.J Taylor get back to his scoring ways with 16 points. North Texas needed some more scoring with DeAndre Harris out. Finally Jordan Williams was solid too. His veteran leadership and good play was the catalyst to UNTs win.
  8. It will be interesting to see if this win catapults this team the rest of the way. You’re starting to see some good basketball being played, but the inconsistency really bothers me. There remains a lot of question marks with this team. Don’t come at me for being skeptical. I love good basketball. I study good basketball. UNT is half way there to playing good basketball right now. Until they put it all together I will remain skeptical.
  9. Kudos to the @NT_PitCrew. Well done Ladies and Gents. Keep bringing the energy and enthusiasm. If you’re a student and weren’t at the game last night you missed a 3 S game…. Super, Scintillating, Sensational BABY!
  10. This win will mean nothing if UNT comes out Saturday and lays an egg. Southern Miss is a very winnable game. If UNT wants to be taken seriously they need that win. They don’t need to play uninspired like they did after beating Creighton and then losing to Prairie View A&M.


Bring Your A Game: Jeremy Combs 16 pts, 13 boards, 1 blk, 1 assist

Dime of the Game: TJ Taylor hit Combs of a full court dime and Combs finished it off with a lay in. Good Basketball

Stat of the Game: 1st half shooting 72%

We Got Next: Southern Miss (5-12) Initial chances of a W – 75%



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)


Southern Miss



Toss ups (40-50%)




Middle Tennessee





Need a Prayer (Less that 30%)



@Old Dominion

Louisiana Tech

Western Kentucky


Old Dominion



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.