North Texas Daily

Fine looks to continue to special season in first bowl start

Fine looks to continue to special season in first bowl start

December 14
22:56 2017

A shoulder injury kept Mason Fine out of last year’s Heart of Dallas Bowl game, but thanks to a year filled with fewer sacks, more time in the weight room and some good fortune, the sophomore quarterback is ready to play in his first bowl game.

And it’s only fitting after the season he’s had.

Fine set school records with both 3,749 passing yards and 28 passing touchdowns while completing 64 percent of his passes, all in his first year as the full-time starter.

“We’re not done, we still have a lot of work to do but you have to stop and take it in every once in awhile,” Fine said. “You can’t just be football or you’re going to miss it. Either after or before practice I just [try to] sit back and really take in what’s happening.”

It’s a feeling that is still setting in for the Locust Grove, Oklahoma, native. Fine notoriously only had one major offer out of high school, which was from North Texas at the last minute after head coach Seth Littrell took over the program.

Now, he is preparing for a bowl game in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.

“Growing up I always saw this on TV,” Fine said. “I keep the mentality of being calm, cool and collected but when I first got here, I was a little overwhelmed. I had a big smile on my face. It was just a lot of dreams come true.”

Sophomore quarterback Mason Fine throws a pass from the end zone in a game against Southern Methodist University on Sept. 9. The Mean Green fell to SMU 54-32. Sara Carpenter

Fine has led North Texas to five game-winning drives in the fourth quarter and constantly elevates the team when it matters most with an aura of confidence and belief well beyond his years.

Unlike the majority of the college football world, Littrell was never surprised by Fine’s early success because of one thing.

“Heart,” head coach Seth Littrell said. “He has a tremendous heart and is very passionate about learning and growing in the game of football. His whole life he’s had to play with a chip on his shoulder because everyone told him he’s not big enough to be a quarterback but he really believes in himself and he’s really grown and become more confident in the system.”

As the leader of the offense, Fine’s energy has carried over in the first few days the team has been in New Orleans and even when the Mean Green started preparing over a week ago.

It’s an opportunity he clearly embraces it could lead to a relaxed and confident game by the entire offense.

“He’s had a smile on since the start of this season, it hasn’t gone away,” sophomore wide receiver Michael Lawrence said. “With this being his first bowl game he’s just pumped up and he’s getting our offense going and it’s shown this past couple of weeks.”

His task, now that he’s here on the big stage, is to knock off Troy University. And the Trojans have the No.11 defense in the country.

The Trojans have forced 15 interceptions and 36 sacks this season. Their defensive abilities have never been more on display than they were in late September against Louisiana State University, where they forced four turnovers in the impressive win.

“Troy is just a really talented football team,” Fine said. “We have to make sure we don’t try to do too much. I have to keep it simple and be fast and keep the tempo going and that’ll help [us].”

While Fine and the offense have their work cut out for them, facing a good defense is nothing new to them. Iowa University, the University of Texas at San Antonio and Florida Atlantic University all presented the offense with problems which they were able to learn from.

Throughout the season Fine has shown improvement in both wins and losses and it has led to the confidence of his teammates growing as well.

“Each game our confidence grows,” sophomore receiver Michael Lawrence said. “It helps with his confidence growing and him getting comfortable back there and just playing catch. Every game you see him get more confident and it [shows] each game.”

North Texas’ offense has scored nearly 36 points per game and the offense has thrived with several key playmakers stepping up. As the Mean Green close out their season with one final major test, Fine aims to remain poised – but hungry – as he looks to return to form in what has been a dynamic offense.

“We know Troy has a good defense,” Fine said. “We took it as a challenge and we had a great two weeks if preparation and come in with a chip on our shoulder and that’s how we’ve played all season.”

Featured Image: Sophomore quarterback Mason Fine talks with media in the days leading up to the 2017 New Orleans Bowl. Fine has left his mark on the program with a record-setting season and now looks to add a bowl win to his resume. 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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