The football on display did not make sense. The pundit industry must find a nice and simple story in which to fit the goings-on on Saturdays. This one sure does not fit nicely. In the super secret MGN Slack, I mentioned that I liked how NT had played in recent weeks — Aune finding Gumms vs UNLV, everyone vs Memphis, etc — and that the mistakes on defense (tackling) and offense (pick-sixes) were glaring and not going to hold. We saw all of the above and more in this one.
- Austin Aune was dealing and dotted J’Yaire Shorter for two scores on some beautiful tosses.
- Austin Aune threw a pick-six that killed the vibe in the first half. His third in two weeks, and fourth in three.
- DeShawn Gaddie and Sifa Leota got split by the FAU RB on the way to an embarrassing TD before the half. It was the umpteenth time we have seen NT try to blow up guys on a tackle instead of wrapping up.
- NT fumbled twice
- FAU had guys behind the secondary (but dropped passes)
And North Texas won the game. Aune converted a 4th and 2 with a little Fine-like scamper on a designed run. That was nice and clever, and yet it was the least clever of the play-calling package thought up by the brain trust. We saw Stone Earle for some reason. He was effective, running and trucking someone, and tossing a couple nice throws, but it was surprising in that he is not the designated backup. He can wheel, however, and I think that was the idea. NT had some direct snap series that worked with great success, and also mixed in some Kaylon Horton / Jordan Smart jet passes. It was the clever we were dying for about a month. Maybe they were saving it for conference play? Maybe they were looking for other ways to score?
Whatever the rationale, Seth Littrell called this the best week of practice and it showed. That old cliché of playing the way you practice bore out, I suppose.
It is easy to get anchored to the positive (a halo effect) and think about the good we saw (481 yards, 300 rushing, 3 passing TDs on 70% passing) and forget the negative. NT did freak us out and almost blow a 21-7 lead by throwing a pick-six, and then allowing a TD right before the half. They followed that up with good offense and clutch defense.
The fact is that these teams are very similar. We wrote the following in the preview:
Both programs like to do self-harm. Littrell’s teams have a habit of holding, roughing the passer, and snapping the ball poorly at the most inopportune time. Last week, NT held, interfered with the pass offensively, and threw an interception on the same play. FAU does something similar. There is talent, but these guys will try to give the game away for a second. Watching them both do the same to each other will be frustrating for both fans, undoubtedly.
Two pick-sixes, one by either team. Frustrating, no doubt. I don’t think it wise to read too much into this game, as someone had to win between these two very flawed programs. We can be grateful that it was NT, even if the student side was not there to see it in the second half. Trust, after all, has to be earned, and right now the prospect of sitting in the sun while NT blew a lead was probably too much of a likelihood to deal with. I hold no grudges.
As a piece of entertainment, it was fantastic for the most part. Ridge Texada had N’Kosi Perry figured. He picked off two, broke up for others, and had 118 yards in interception yardage including a score. That was a game for that dude. Meanwhile, Shorter had his second career 3-TD day (fifth on the season, 14 in his career). He bullied the FAU defense, which is deep and talented. He got loose behind them, found space in front, and showed his quality, as they say.
The bye week is a time to recover, and work on some flaws. I would like to see zero (0) interceptions from NT QBs returned for scores for the rest of the season. Please, and thank you. I would like the Adeyi fumbles cleaned up (he had two) and more of the effective, creative, exciting play-calling we saw in the first half.
Hey Kid, The Next One Is On Me:
The MGN Beer Is On Me Player of the Game Brought To You By MGN is: Ridge Texada