North Texas Daily

After fast start, North Texas offense struggles in loss to SMU

After fast start, North Texas offense struggles in loss to SMU

September 09
23:28 2017

North Texas won the coin flip at Gerald J. Ford Stadium Saturday night and elected to receive the opening kickoff against Southern Methodist University.

The Mean Green responded by waltzing down the field, gracefully covering 75-yards in seven plays in a crisp three minutes and 19 seconds. Following a punt and an added penalty against SMU, North Texas added a 14-yard drive that culminated in a 46-yard field goal from Trevor Moore, putting the Mean Green up 10-0.

And then the honeymoon stage of the early part of the Mean Green’s 2017 season came to a screeching halt.

The Mustangs put up 38 unanswered points and went on to throttle the Mean Green 54-32.

“I thought we came out strong,” head coach Seth Littrell said. “I thought we came out ready to play, we were excited. [We] had a good first series, then after that we couldn’t get off the field on defense on third and longs.”

The SMU offense carved up the Mean Green defense on third downs in the first half, converting 6-of-8 attempts, keeping the North Texas offense off the field for extended periods of time. The Mustangs finished 9-of-18 on third down in the game.

When they did get their chances, the Mean Green offense looked drastically different from the juggernaut that defeated Lamar last Saturday. The offense showed a wildcat formation, numerous reverses, and kept most of their formations bunched up near the line of scrimmage throughout the game.

The changes in the offensive approach didn’t catch the Mustangs off guard after the first drive, as several of the new looks resulted in dramatic losses.

“It’s just different packages we’ve been working on,” Littrell said. “I feel like it’s personnel we need to utilize a little better. Forces them to prepare for more and I felt pretty good in those packages.”

The Mean Green running game struggled, as senior running back Jeffery Wilson failed to find any running room throughout the game.

Wilson, coming off of a monster game against Lamar where he ran for 176 yards and three touchdowns, totaled just 37 yards on 13 carries for one touchdown.

“We have to credit SMU,” sophomore quarterback Mason Fine said. “They did a great job. Had a great gameplan and went and executed better than we did.”

Fine went on to have arguably the best game of his career, playing every minute despite the game turning into a rout early in the third quarter.

The sophomore quarterback completed 32 of his 47 passes for 424 yards and two interceptions. Fine was also sacked five times and took several shots from a stingy SMU defensive front.

“That’s going to happen, its football,” Fine said. “That’s me getting the ball out, checking out [of plays]. That’s the offensive line making a couple of adjustments. We’ll fix it and move on.”

Sophomore Jalen Guyton was the primary benefactor from Fine’s big statistical game.

Guyton was explosive for the Mean Green offense as he tallied 109 yards and two touchdowns on just three catches. His longest catch came on a 72-yard touchdown in the middle of the third quarter as North Texas attempted to stop the bleeding.

“[He] is just a great football player,” Fine said of Guyton. “He’s a great playmaker, runs great routes and just a great receiver overall. We need to get him the ball when we can.”

Part of the offenses struggles in the first half and early in the second was due to three turnovers. For the second straight week, the Mean Green had a muffed punt, this time by senior Turner Smiley. The other two came on Fine interceptions.

“You can’t turn the football over,” Littrell said. “You have three turnovers against a team like that, you’re never going to have any success.”

The Mean Green offense ended up putting up the same exact yardage total as the Mustangs’ (493), but the timing of the yards came much too late to save the game from getting out of hand.

“Offensively, we pressed too much,” Littrell said. “They weren’t doing anything we hadn’t seen. I felt like we had plenty of opportunities, but again we pressed too much.”

Featured Image: North Texas sophomore quarterback Mason Fine (6) throws the ball against Southern Methodist Unversity. Fine threw career numbers with 424 yards, 3 touchdowns, and 2 interceptions. Colin Mitchell

About Author

Matthew Brune

Matthew Brune

Matthew Brune is the Senior Sports Writer for the North Texas Daily, covering football and men's basketball.

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