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MGN Podcast

126: Sweet Victory

Adam and Aldo discuss the win over rivals UTSA

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Football Football Recaps

North Texas Destroys UTSA 45-3

Ladies and gentleman, North Texas destroyed rival from San Antonio UTSA.

The final was 45-3 and it was not even that close. North Texas put up 501 yards of offense and 290 of that was on the ground. Tre Siggers, newly appointed star running back, ran for 143 himself (on 14 carries), knocking UTSA dudes aside as he ran through them.

North Texas fans had hoped for a playmaker to help Mason Fine and it turns out it is the stable of running backs. DeAndre Torrey had 62 yards running on the ground and added 60 through the pass game and a score. The two starting backs combined for 265 yard, four scores through the air and on the ground.

Mason Fine had a pedestrian 195 and 2 scores, on 15/22 passing.

The defense that played so well for three quarters against Cal last week was outstanding against UTSA’s questionable QB talent. The thought was that if UTSA could hurt NT it would be through missed gaps, and the QB extending plays with his legs.

That proved true, but there was not enough of the execution that would hurt NT. UTSA put up 295 total yards but only 128 through the air. Frank Harris, the star sophomore QB who was an NT recruit, was hurt again on the 2nd play of the game and did not return. His backup Lowell Narcisse played well in spots but his passes were not catchable by the UTSA WRs.

He overthrew his targets, and one was intercepted because it was thrown to hard at his WR. He finished 16/36 for 124 and 2 INTs. He was most dangerous on the ground, running for 98 yards, including a 42 yard scamper that put UTSA into NT territory.

Dangerous freshman RB Sincere McCormick had a nice 20-yard run that saw him break some tackles but he was held to 62 yards. UTSA was held to 6/20 on third downs and 2/7 on fourth.

That was the story here tonight. NT’s defense is suddenly ferocious against teams without quality offensive minds calling the shots like SMU’s Sonny Dykes. SMU, by the way, upset TCU earlier this afternoon and Cal beat Ol’ Miss in Oxford.

NT is now 2-2 on the season and has a conference win to boot.

Offense

Mason Fine did not have to do much, and that is always nice. He sat for the final quarter as we saw a couple of drives from Jason Bean and Austin Aune. The run game is the driver for this group and that is fine. We have an identity now, and a spread-power run game is fine by me.

UTSA is a poor tackling team and but we have seen four games where NT has powered through tackle and showed their ability to run. Tre Siggers is much of that. When Easly went down last year, NT struggled to find the power, even though DeAndre Torrey was slicing through defenses. Their combined attack is devastating so far.

NT still can use some help in the pass game, but it was nice to see the ball move crisply through the air when it was needed. NT was 7/14 on third down and 0-2 on fourth. Not bad.

NT’s points-per-drive: 3.214. That’s excellent and includes the time-wasting at the end. Offense added 14 combined chunk plays to the total.

Defense

This unit was great. We can throw a lot of caveats about how UTSA sucks on offense and all that but the thing is you are supposed to beat up a bad team. North Texas harassed the QB all night, got turnovers, and kept UTSA off the scoreboard.

Ultimately, that is what this game is about. Stats are great, but points are the only thing that wins or loses games. Three points in four quarters against a conference opponent, and six points in seven quarters against Cal and UTSA combined.

I am feeling better about this defense as I hoped I would. We thought this unit needed time and repetitions and so far it has paid dividends. KD Davis was the leading tackler and Dion Novil was a monster up front. He created pressure, and collapsed the line from a three-man front.

NT had six tackles for loss, three sacks, five QB hurries, and two interceptions. That is quality defense, folks. Defense allowed only six chunk plays and only one of those was in the pass game.

Special Teams

Hey, a missed field goal. Mooney made another and was not needed. Just the way I like it. Kenworthy had three punts and got one inside the 20. No returns for UTSA went anywhere, and NT had some decent ones of their own but nothing noteworthy.

Coaching

Hey well NT won by 42-points and was never really threatened. They subbed out the starting QB in time to get reps for the future signal-callers and everything ended fine. Those are quality coaching results.

Thoughts

This felt real nice. It is always nice to destroy a team, but it feels extra good to do it to one of the ones that has been so close to NT for so long. No game in this series has been a true blowout — even the one in 2016 in San Antonio was close before UTSA got up two scores.

The UTSA fans are thinking of firing their coach and well, that reminds me of when NT beat SMU so bad that June Jones up and quit. SMU beat the hell out of NT and well, it is nice to be on the other side of that again.

Next up: Houston, who lost on national TV on Thursday night to Tulane. They bring a dynamic QB in D’Eriq King and a quality offensive head coach in Dana Holgerson.

Corrected Lowell Narcisse’s name. S/O to Adler on gmg.

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Football

North Texas vs UTSA Preview 2019

It is rivalry week, no matter what the message board people say. There are many flavors of rival, and they do not all look like the Iron Bowl. In CUSA, this is what it looks like: two struggling teams with relatively small fanbases (compared to the P5 programs) going at each other.

Long time NT fans will remember 2013, when UTSA came into Apogee and ended the home win streak, ended the chance for a CUSA title game appearance for a really good team, and made everyone very disappointed on a cold day in Denton.

The players on that team still are upset about it. The players on UTSA still like to brag about it. Those are the seeds of a rivalry. Snowflakes are formed by microscopic dust particles and so we can build something fun out of something as small as that game.

That these two programs come into this week with pride a bit wounded is secondary to the game. Imagine what happens if NT were to lose to this team?

That is the storyline coming into this one. The defense is feeling good after last week, with some reason to feel that way. Littrell at his weekly conference:

But I think we learned a lot about this team with the way the fought and grinded on the road against a very good Cal team … Overall I was really proud of the fight, determination and resilience our team showed. They just battled out and continued to come back and play a physical game. I think there’s a lot to be learned and we can definitely grow from an experience like that.”

Yes, that is a lot of words that say, essentially, “moral victory.”

UTSA’s head coach Frank Wilson basically said the same about his team’s loss to Army:

They saw (Army) in a bowl game, they saw (Army) a week ago vs. Michigan. They watched (Army) play Oklahoma. They know that they were a worthy team that played well against top-10 teams in the country and knew that they had opportunities to be in position to win. There was not the dejection. Keep on hammering guys, we are that close.

For what it is worth, both coaches quoted the record (3-3) and said it is a rivalry.

Frank Wilson: “It is a rivalry. I don’t think we’ve had a game decided by more than seven points. 

Seth Littrell: ““This is definitely our rivalry game. You look at the past three opportunities this group has gotten against this team, it’s been a battle.”

So we have a rivalry, and two teams smarting from 1-2 starts looking for momentum and both looking at all of their goals in front of them. Wilson likened the non-conference schedule to pre-season NFL. Seth Littrell said that conference play is the “first chance to accomplish our goal”.

Goal-time, y’all.

The Opponent: UTSA

The Roadrunners are 3-3 lifetime against North Texas They started out the series with that gut-punch win at Apogee. People forget that Derek Thompson led NT down inside the red zone and was two plays away from tying the game late.

NT lost at the Alamodome the next season, blowing a chance at a game winning drive after a muffed punt.

The next season was an awful one for NT, but the lone win came at the Runners’ expense and there was posing with locked gates (oh, crazy Chico).

This will be Mason Fine’s fourth UTSA game and he is so far 2-1. The first one was a loss that was closer than the score indicates. NT had a ton of turnovers, mostly because of a freshman Mason Fine, but he did bust out an 80-yarder on the ground.

There was of course the drive that was all-but-a-loss. Last year was an unbecoming win, that UTSA nearly pulled out late. There was an over-throw on a slot pass that would have won things for UTSA.

UTSA comes into town boasting a talented quarterback that NT wanted. Frank Harris is mobile, and is accurate but still learning the job after three seasons recovering from various injuries.

The defense is still talented, but there is no Pete Golding coordinating them any more.

Attacking UTSA

UTSA plays a multiple 4-2-5 defense, as they have for pretty much their entire history. They boast good defensive lineman and that spells trouble for NT usually. The last few years UTSA has been able to at least hit Mason Fine and mess up the offense.

We will see them go two or three deep along the line with names like Eric Banks – -the DE in the old Marcus Davenport spot. The DT spot has guys that go 300lbs in Baker, Haynes, Newton, and Matterson. The DE spots are quick and mobile — Danzler, Carter-Mclin, Wise, Henry, Hicks.

The two linebackers do not have the name or the hype as did their former LB with the hair and the NT recruiting story, but they are experienced.

The secondary is experienced, but has some youth.

Baylor was able to truck this team over, but it is hard to blame UTSA when apparently the Bears are monsters. They are averaging 59 points per game. Army exploded late against this UTSA team, but it is difficult to gauge any game against the Black Knights.

Incarnate Word looked like they were going to give UTSA a game but were flustered early and that explosive offense was held in check all game.

NT will probably be without Rico Bussey, and the way things are looking that means Mason Fine will need some help from a robust run game. Good thing that Tre Siggers is in the game to bring some physicality. Frank Wilson said we are a spread team, and that is true. He means that we do not look to the pass as our primary means — and while we have a good QB we do not trust our pass game as a go-to.

NT’s Z-wide receiver Deion Hair-Griffin is talented, but he is also still looking for some production out there. He has been targeted 13 times by Mason Fine and grabbed only 3 passes for 36 yards.

Our leading yards per target man is Jason Pirtle, with 22. But he has been absent since his big game vs ACU. The TEs have not been a part of the game plan since. Bussey is at 15 yards per target, and beyond that it is Jyaire Shorter and Jaelon Darden with 8, and 7.

Not much doing there. Darden is likely going to be the focus, as he can take it to the house, and one of Shorter, White, and DHG need to step up and get 8-10 catches for 80-100 yards.

Shorter seems to be built for the role, but he dropped a big TD against Cal, and later a couple of tough opportunities. DHG is explosive, but again, lots of targets and no production.

Reeder and Littrell like his speed to take the top off the defense, but if he is not getting the ball?

Best case scenario: North Texas is able to move the ball with the run game and some quality completions to Shorter/Darden/Lawrence.

Worst case scenario: More penalties and drops and NT is turning the ball over and needing big TDs late.

Defending UTSA

It all starts with the quarterback. This is cliché in 2019 but very true with this team. Frank Harris can do some D’Eriq King-type things. He can escape the pocket and take it to the house. UIW didn’t have the foot speed on defense to close him down in space. He was able to extend the play and find his options to move the chains.

Baylor shut him down through talent and scheme. They forced him to sit back and pick out options and he was unable to do so. The ideal UTSA possession uses RB Sincere McCormick and Frank Harris as a one-two punch with bubble screens and the occasional downfield shot as constraint plays when the defense creeps up.

NT likes to bring pressure and loves a QB that will drop to a spot. NT faced a QB that liked to escape the pocket in Cal’s Chase Garber and we likely will not see too much of a different game plan in the first quarter. NT shut down Cal for three quarters and was able to wrap up Garber after allowing some big runs early.

Harris is more explosive than Garber, but maybe not as polished as a passer just yet.

McCormick is quick and explosive, and we have already seen NT make mistakes in gap assignments. This site and Seth Littrell agree on one thing however: The defense just needs more time and they will gel.

The mistake this unit have made are ones from inexperience and youth. Tyreke and KD Davis have talent and fly around at the LB spot. Tyreke was the nickel safety last year, and has enough in coverage that NT can bring some flexibility to their looks.

NT has proven thus far that you cannot simply line up and lean on this group, and that there is enough speed on the field that you cannot try to just run around it. The best bet? Well, take advantage of NT corners Nick Harvey and Cam Johnson as they are on islands out there.

Again, Frank Harris can throw the ball, is he Tom Brady just yet? Nah. Make him stand tall in the pocket and think about the closing pressure and deliver on his third read. Do not let him run to his left and find guys on the run.

The UTSA O-Line is all big and tall. NT so far has seen their pass-rush fall down on the initial push, and that may be a concern.

TE Carlos Strickland is 6’4″ 230 lbs and has 10 catches on 16 targets for 75 yards and a score. He is something of a safety blanket. Blaze Moorhead is the shifty slot receiver and leading pass-catcher with 11 on 12 targets for just 58 yards. Tykee Ogle-Kellogg is a big 6’4″ 210 lb WR with 8 targets.

The backs have 14 grabs between them, as safety valves and on designed stuff.

Best case scenario: NT is able to continue the three-quarter run and bottle up an offense with about two really good options and a handful of maybes.

Worst case scenario: Frank Harris escapes contain and makes plays with his feet or finds playmakers on 3rd down to extend drives.

Coaching

Seth Littrell has had the clear better team once, the home field advantage once with a couple of evenly matched teams, and the second best team once. He is 2-1 in that span against UTSA.

North Texas has been down 20 at the end of the first quarter in the last two games. Littrell has lots of good words about how and why that happened, and his plan for addressing it.

NT has the better, and deeper team in this matchup and the home field advantage. NT needs about 30-40 points per game from its offense to make sure that things are not dire, as the defense is still gelling.

Right now, the offense is still struggling while the defense looked good last week for three quarters. The good news is that Tre Siggers looks to have taken the top job at tailback with DeAndre Torrey being the changeup.

Jyaire Shorter has the talent to be a quality CUSA WR, and Jaelon Darden can take a short pass for a score from anywhere on the field.

Whatever happens in this game is what this team will be. Teams do not typically get too much better or worse beyond week four. The defense will be the exception, as they grow into their roles, but that will only be so much.

CUSA is having a down year and this thing is ripe for winning. It all starts this week, and Seth Littrell is charged with getting his program started right.

MGN e-book Preview Prediction: NT W 38-17
MGN Prediction Today: NT W 34-17

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Football

Kason Martin Dancing

It went viral, which is what Kason Martin does right now.

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Football Football Recaps

North Texas Edges UTSA 24-21, Wins 9th Game of 2018

That should have been a blowout.

It was a win.

Everyone will take the win.

North Texas is 9-3 and that means back-to-back 9-win seasons for the first time since 1978 and NT is near 10-wins for the first time in their FBS history.

Beating UTSA has always been an exercise in drama, as we wrote in the game preview: only one game in this series has not come down to the final possession.

This was no different and I suppose we can chalk it up to the pull of fate rather than the odd pattern of games North Texas has fell into.

Yet again, this football team went up by double digits and yet again that lead evaporated. Here, owing partly to the struggle fest that was the UTSA offense, NT never trailed in this game but almost lost the game at the end.

The game set up just like the Old Dominion game, where the NT offense could not seal the game and the defense allowed one too many conversions on the way to losing it. There again was Tyreke Davis, who has been targeted. In Hampton Roads it was Jonathan Duhart against Davis, against UTSA it was Greg Campbell Jr. against him.

EJ Ejiya came up big, however, and sacked Bryce Rivers to put the Roadrunners out of field goal position. The subsequent kick was way wide left and that was that.

The Game and Its Parts

We can recite these scores like Arya recites her revenge list in Game of Thrones: 21-6 over LT but lose 29-27, 21-10 over UAB but lose 29-21, 28-0 over ODU but lose 34-31, 17-0 over FAU but lose the lead 21-20 at half.

Here, 17-0 lead and UTSA cut it to 17-14 and 24-21 and had the ball just 12 yards from the end zone.

There were enough mistakes spread around the various subgroups that we can point to any handful and say “there is the problem.” The truth is that again, they all add up and they all contribute to that issue.

North Texas put up 515 yards of offense — hardly the stuff of struggles — but did fail on three straight 3rd-and-goal attempts from the one. Also, Mason Fine threw a bad interception in the endzone. Those were the obvious missed opportunities here. In previous games it was a missed field goal or a failed fourth-down conversion.

Maybe you think it is the play call? Well we have a candidate: that 4th and 1 call to hand it to DeAndre Torrey wherein he was stuffed deep in the backfield. Why not keep the ball in Mason Fine’s hands? Why not go with your best player?

Well, even that can be answered: Torrey had 155 on the day and proved adept at getting yards. Did he get short yards? No.

We’ll conclude this section by noting this: getting one yard in football when the other team absolutely knows you need to get that yard is the essence of this game itself. North Texas has not been very good at getting that one yard this season and it has cost the team three wins and at least a couple of comfortable wins, this one included.

Its a Rivalry

Seth Littrell called it a rivalry and as we wrote above, every game between these two has been an exercise in drama. There is something to the final game of the season that brings about apathy or renewed vigor in a team. North Texas mostly played the kind of game they have played all season, which is a testament — in a positive sense — to the coaching staff. You can’t say they dipped in form, since this was the way they played last week and the week before etc.

On the other hand, UTSA played its best game of the season, on the final day of the season, on senior day in the final home game of the year.

If there was a time to step it up and meet the challenge this was it. Credit Bryce Rivers, who threw for 269 yards — a UTSA season best. UTSA’s Greg Campbell Jr. also played ridiculously well, catching 11 for 186.

UTSA put up 400 yards of offense on the day, their best of the season.

You might recall that in 2014, both teams came in with awful offenses and proceeded to engage in a shootout, with both QBs playing well above their season average. Andy McNulty threw for near a career best, and UTSA’s Tucker Carter had one of his career best games. It was odd and an outlier just like this weird game from UTSA.

Its a rivalry.

Offense is Still Good

There were 516 yards gained by the Mean Green, 320 by the arm of Mason Fine, and 196 on the ground, with 155 by DeAndre Torrey. The efficiency is not where we want it, but there is enough explosion creeping into the offense that we can be hopeful in the bowl game.

Mason Fine lost his number one receiver Rico Bussey midway through the game and there was a noticeable effect. There were a few occasions where Fine had no one to throw to. He found space, and made plays. North Texas drained most of the clock late, and Keegan Brewer came up clutch in the pass game.

The Defense Came Through

If our hope was that the defense would be good enough then we can be satisfied. EJ Ejiya sacked Rivers in a clutch scenario and that helped the team win the game. Earlier, Kemon Hall picked off a floating pass in the endzone that killed a promising UTSA drive.

Those are winning plays and NT made them. There were big stops by the defense throughout the game. Nate Brooks, Ejiya, Brandon Garner, TJ Tauaalo all game up with big stops in this one.

Special Teams

Cole Hedlund made a kick and they did not.

This game was screaming for a special teams miscue and well, it happened. NT had one punt blocked and UTSA turned that into 7. They had another kick-catch interference that gifted UTSA 15 yards.

Mistakes on Offense

Jordan Murray was called for three holding penalties. NT dropped a couple of passes. Mason Fine badly overthrew his target on the interception. Graham Harrell’s call on 4th and 1 was so very disagreeable with my own thought process and then the blocking for that play compounded it.

Mistakes Defensively

Kemon Hall got beat by Campbell Jr, and that dude made a circus catch to get 42-yards. Understandable. Happens. The next play he gets 30+ on a deep crossing route. Not understandable.

The NT pass rush has been gone, especially if it has to be produced by the front three + whoever is rushing. Bryce Rivers had so much time to go through his reads when he wasn’t sacked. That makes those sacks that did happen less impactful (final one notwithstanding).

It is not a big deal to get a sack if on the next play you allow the QB all day to pick out a throw.

UTSA had too much running room, and everyone seemed surprised at the UTSA skillset on offense.

UTSA played much better than in the previous month, but still, UNT looked to be waiting for UTSA to make a mistake than you know, playing. Happens.

Searching For Meaning

After everything, both teams came out feeling positively. UTSA players were liking tweets and talking happily about playing well.

UNT players were feeling good after a win and closing out the regular season the right way. That is a bit odd but it happens when you play a bad team.

These kinds of games happen in college football and really, winning these ugly conference games is the difference between good and mediocre seasons and being hired or fired. If NT wins this same exact game against ODU — really, so similar in both — then we feel even better after getting ten wins, while Bobby Wilder is perhaps not on “solid ground” as the ODU AD put it today.

Last year NT was fortunate to win more than their share of these close ones. It is all fine.

Notes From The Field

MGN and family tailgated in Lot B. It was empty, but not as much as Lot C. MGN and company went to the Alumni tailgate. It was not as fun as the 2016 Halloween version, and there was something like a muted feeling there.

NT Football is in a weird spot in that it has won enough to condition the fan base to be used to winning and so 8-win seasons are not going to blow anyone away. Also, not having the league title on the horizon is putting everyone in a position to search for motivation.

“What am I rooting for?” they say.

That’s the eternal question, folks.

Scrappy and Rowdy the Roadrunner had some mascot bits that were sort of fun … the NT travelling crew tried some North / Texas chant … I could not hear the fake cannon from 143, but it still exists, box and all … that flag bit at the 4th quarter is such a beating … not as much of a beating as the arena-music that is overbearing and drowns out any and all collegiate-like atmosphere. Also, if the PA announcer has to scream YOUUU–TEEE–ESSS–AAYYY at everyone to get their participation, it may be forcing it a bit … Our group was treated well, and we treated others well. We had kids with us so we have to. … NT fans took advantage of UTSA allowing fans to come on the field and sign autographs. They went down and took picstures with NT players.

Next Up

It’s Bowl Season time. All of CUSA is going to watch Middle Tennessee host UAB in the championship game — what? Yes, today FIU lost to Marshall and Middle whooped UAB to set up a rematch of that Middle-UAB game in Murfreesboro. It is so weird, but that is the league.

After we watch that, we will know who is going where. The winner of the league will get their preferences considered first, followed by everyone else sort-of.

Everyone wants a P5 matchup but I don’t see an easy matchup for that. My gut tells me NT will play at the former HOD, now First Responder Bowl against someone.

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Football

North Texas at UTSA Preview

We do not have much time, so let us be straightforward: North Texas should blow the doors off this UTSA Roadrunner team tonight.

North Texas is slightly ahead of their record-setting pace for yards and points last season, and UTSA is nowhere near the tough team that nearly won in Denton back in October 2017.

The last few weeks, we have posited that mustering the motivation would be the biggest issue for the Mean Green after losing to UAB and all-but-closing the door on the league title chances.

This week is not so difficult. North Texas-UTSA is not Ohio State-Michigan, but it has all the ingredients and there have been enough losses on both sides to have hurt feelings about the other team.

Back in 2013, North Texas fans had at best a mild annoyance at the upstart team from San Antonio. Much of the dislike — if it rose to that level — was based in manner in which UTSA Roadrunner fans acted online. “We are going to step in and dominate everyone.”

Mean Green people, stuck watching NT Football spin their wheels in the mud after the Todd Dodge fiasco, were all too aware of the difficulties of life in lower-FBS football and did not appreciate those comments.

On November 23, 2013 North Texas was playing for a perfect Apogee season while UTSA had a solid team led by a senior QB. The Roadrunners were good, hoping for an NCAA ruling to get bowl-eligible in their second-season in FBS, but finishing 7-5 including a 6-win conference season.

I note all of the above to highlight how good the team North Texas lost to was. Most NT fans thought NT was the far-better team (they were), but on that extremely cold day they could not put a drive together and ultimately fell, losing the chance for a conference title appearance and a perfect season.

That NT team still went on to win a bowl game — the last NT team to do so. Between you and I, if that game were played two days before or after there would have been a more raucous crowd and a better NT team. It wasn’t, so that loss hurt like hell.

I wrote after the game that to begin a rivalry, there needed to be some hurt feelings. North Texas, being the established program with stakes — UTSA was playing with house money for a while there — had to be the first to lose. If NT wins that game UTSA — fans and players alike — simply shrug and say “we are only a 3-year old team!”

On the podcast after, a guest said “I hate UTSA. It just happened yesterday.” This is how a rivalry begins.

The next season, both squads had awful teams in the Alamodome. Zach Whitfield touched a punt return ball that UTSA recovered, nixing a chance for Andrew McNulty to lead a game-tying drive. Andrew McNulty had one of his best games ever that day — NT had not passed for more than 107 yards in a month’s time leading up to that game. It was a bad year. UTSA had a bad run game that powered through and sliced through the NT defense. It was a bad year.

The year after NT and UTSA played in Apogee and Mike Canales led that Mean Green team to the only win of the season and it came at UTSA’s expense. Again, both teams were bad but NT was historically so.

In Mason Fine’s freshman season, UTSA beat NT in the Alamodome again, this time taking advantage of the young QB’s turnovers to pull away late. This was the only game of the series to not come down to the final drive or finish within one possession.

Last year, obviously, was special. Mason Fine led North Texas to a miracle win in what the UNT president dubbed “The division championship game.”

To recap:

  • 2013: UTSA 21 – UNT 13 | Derek Thompson is intercepted in the final seconds after a desperation drive to tie. At Apogee.
  • 2014: UTSA 34 – UNT 27 | Zach Whitfield muffs the punt that would have given NT possession and a chance to tie. At the Alamodome.
  • 2015: UNT 30 – UTSA 23 | Jeff Wilson and Damarcus Smith ran for 270+ yards between them and the defense held UTSA on their final drive. At Apogee.
  • 2016: UTSA
  • 2017: UNT 29 – UTSA 26 | Mason Fine leads NT ona 98-yard drive with no timeouts and under a minute left. At Apogee

That brings us to this season. There has not been a more mismatched game between the two. In the past five years of this game, both teams have been up or down at the same time. The previous exception was in 2016, when UTSA had the stronger team by some margin. Still, UNT had come in to that Haloween weekend having beat Army and felt like they had some chance. Were it not for the turnovers — including one at the goal line by Jeff Wilson — the game could have been closer.

This Year’s UTSA:

The Runners are ranked 130 of 130 in scoring, at a meager 13.5 points per game. Since their last win against Rice on October 6th, where they won 20-3 on the strength of their defense (and bad Owl play) their point totals (all losses) — 3, 17 (aided by a pick-six), 3, 7, 0.

Beyond this, the defense that was the strength of the team has fallen apart. Louisiana Tech scored 31, USM 27, then UAB 52, FIU 45, and last week offensively-challenged Marshall had 23 in a game that should have been worse.

This UTSA team is one of the worst NT has faced in some time. If we go down the list of this season’s bad teams we get this: Arkansas, UTEP, Rice.

Arkansas is loaded with talent that cannot be said of UTSA. UTEP is improving, and played close games with Tech and UAB. Rice is also improving and NT eventually showed why they are the better team.

In fact, at worst, I think UNT plays UTSA like they did Rice last season in Houston. In that one, NT came out a little rusty, threw a pick-six, and then eventually pulled away without the nice blowout win that we all wanted.

This North Texas team is frustratingly good — so much talent on offense and the defense aggressively playmaking. These collapses throughout the season have meant big early leads wasting away before crushing losses — save for the FAU game.

The takeaway probably should be that this is team is an evolution of the gunslinging one that was involved in so many shootouts last season. NT is still scoring, but doing it inconsistently. NT is still winning but doing so with some tough losses.

North Texas is very good, and has not lost to teams it “should” have beaten since the ODU game — and even then, that weird Monarch team is an under-performing, talented team with upper classmen. A good number of that team finished 10-3 just two seasons ago.

Where ODU found a QB that could get passes to their talented WRs Jonathan “He Spit On Me” Duhart, and Travis “Just Toss it Up to Me” Fulgham, UTSA has no such luck.

The rotating class of pass throwers is the classic “There but for the grace of Mason Fine go we” situation. We remember it well, as NT coaches rifled through the roster looking for anyone that could stand in there and complete a pass.

At this level of competition, having the best QB on the field does a lot for moving the gambling line. Yes, that is the case all across football generally but even great QBs need help. Just last night we saw Will Grier and Gardner Minshew both lose in games where they could have been called the better QB. Yes, Kyler Murray is good, but you see my point.

UTSA has rolled out Cordale Grundy, Jordan Weeks, DJ Gillins, and Bryce Rivers. Each has had a shining moment or two, but only Grudny had completed more than 50% of his passes (50.5 to be exact) and he also is the only QB to throw more TDs than INTs — 5 to 3.

We saw Mason Fine struggle in his first year and the potent offense we see weekly was a struggle-fest that first season. We could be kind and say UTSA is simply going through growing pains, but it is difficult to see how or what UTSA is trying to do every week.

The run game cannot run. The pass game is struggling with young (and not good?) QBs. There is no evident rhyme or reason to the play calls or the QB rotation. When the head coach — in late October — is saying “Maybe we should pare back the offense a bit” that is a bad sign.

That UTSA defense — once so praised and still boasting some quality players — is bad now. They give up big plays in the run game and the pass game and in pretty much any situation you can think of, they will allow you to move the ball and probably score on it.

There is confusion in the secondary, and even more on the sidelines it seems. North Texas should eat well, like I did just two games ago.

North Texas are 24.5 point favorites in this one and it should not be even that close.

North Texas 55 UTSA 6

Categories
MGN Podcast

116: Revenge

Adam and Aldo discuss the revenge win over FAU and look forward to the season finale against UTSA

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Categories
Basketball

CUSA Basketball Power Rankings & Thoughts

  1. Middle Tennessee
  2. Western Kentucky
  3. Old Dominion
  4. Marshall
  5. UTSA
  6. UAB
  7. Louisiana Tech
  8. North Texas
  9. FIU
  10. FAU
  11. Southern Miss
  12. UTEP
  13. Rice
  14. Charlotte
  • Middle and WKU flexed their muscles last week.  WKU probably had the best week. The Hilltoppers absolutely demolished ODU, who was ranked number one in these rankings last week. WKU put up 88 points on ODU, and to be honest you could make a strong case that they should be number 1 this week.  Since the UTSA loss WKU has been nothing but really good. Middle tore apart UAB. The Blue Raiders showcased why they are a top 25 team. Both of these teams WKU and Middle face off in Murfreesboro this Thursday. It is absolutely must watch basketball.  In their last meeting Middle controlled the tempo and held WKU to only 62 points.  I would not be shocked at all if WKU won this game. The Hilltoppers have more weapons, but Middle is a better overall TEAM. Should be fascinating.

  • What has happened to UAB? The Blazers should be a top challenger in CUSA, instead they are trying to figure out their offensive issues. In their last 8 games UAB is 2-6 scoring only 63.7 points a game. That’s not where UAB should be. Their offensive efficiency should be much better than it is.

  • North Texas is in an absolute free fall right now. The Mean Green have issues all across the board. First off they can’t get stops when they need them. NT just let FIU and FAU, two bad offensive teams, run right over them. Secondly and more importantly, NT is looking for some on the floor leadership. Ryan Woolridge and Roosevelt Smart are the leaders of that team. They really need to step up this week, and get things back on track.

  • What exactly is UTSA? Are they contenders or pretenders? The roadrunners from San Antonio have taken care of business in the last two weeks against the bottom half of CUSA. Then there was the 40 point drubbing ODU put on them. UTSA is still in contention for the 4th seed and a bye. They have NT and Rice. Both of those games are winnable, and should be W’s for UTSA. I wouldn’t be shocked to see UTSA get a bye.

  • Here is what the match-up’s look like if CUSA ended today.
    CUSA_Tourney
  • And here are my crazy predictions based off those match-ups.
    CUSA_Tourney_PredictionsYes I know what you are say UNT is not beating WKU. It’s hard to see that with how UNT is playing right now. Still my bold prediction is that if UNT wins their 1st game they are winning their second game no matter who they play. There are going to be upsets on day two. One of those top 4 seeds is going down. Marshall wants revenge on UTSA. UAB is in the same boat as UNT right now, struggling to stay afloat. So its hard to see them beating ODU. Its pretty crazy to believe that La Tech vs Middle would be a day 2 match-up. No one saw that coming in the preseason. If UNT can climb up to the 6 seed, and get by their first game I think its a more likely scenario of them beating ODU. If they stay at 7 they have a slim shot at WKU. NT probably has a better shot at Middle than WKU. So summarizing ODU, Marshall, and possibly UTSA if they are a 4 seed- one of those top ranked teams is going down on day two. It should really be a great tournament. Don’t expect chalk outside of WKU and Middle. There will be lots of close games, and potential upsets. Middle and WKU also might not be as safe as some think. Marshall is the one team that beat Middle, and WKU has shown it could have a bad night too. Would love to hear who your picks are right now.
Categories
General

SWC Roundup: Anatomy of The Drive

SWCRU

Categories
MGN Podcast

86: Miracle at Apogee

Adam and Aldo discuss the miracle drive the won the game against UTSA

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