North Texas Daily

Five observations from North Texas’ loss to Troy in the New Orleans Bowl

Five observations from North Texas’ loss to Troy in the New Orleans Bowl

December 16
15:51 2017

Slow out of the gate

As they have several times this season, the Mean Green got off to a really slow start in the final game of the year. North Texas allowed Troy to drive down the field with little resistance on the opening drive of the game. The Mean Green then fumbled the ball on the ensuing possession, allowing the Trojans to punch the ball into the end zone again to take a 15-0 lead before six minutes came off the clock. Then, in the second half, sophomore quarterback Mason Fine threw an interception on the opening drive and Troy quickly capitalized with a touchdown just three plays before adding another score on a 59-yard pass from Brandon Silvers to Tevaris McCormick. Those quick starts put the Mean Green in a tight spot in both the first and third quarters.

Offensive line struggles

The North Texas offensive line struggled to protect Fine for the second straight game as Troy managed to put pressure on the sophomore all afternoon. The Trojans sacked Fine six times for a net loss of 59 yards, and finished with 10 tackles for loss. Even when the Trojans didn’t sack Fine, they were getting huge shots on him, and those hits took a toll over the course of the game. Fine had two fumbles in the loss and also threw two interceptions that were partially a result of the pressure Troy was able to bring from start to finish.

Opportunistic defense

After getting off to the disastrous start in the first quarter, North Texas took advantage of back-to-back Troy turnovers. A high snap sailed over Silvers’ head and senior linebacker Colton McDonald scooped it up and returned it 56 yards for a Mean Green touchdown. On the very next play, Kishawn McClain intercepted a Silvers’ pass on a deep throw down the sideline. Those two plays allowed North Texas to pull within two points going into halftime. While the team failed to build on the momentum in the second half, the plays served as a bright spot in the loss.

Lack of a run game

We knew Jeffery Wilson’s absence was going to hurt, but the fact that Nic Smith was battling a groin strain made things even harder on the North Texas offense. North Texas finished the game with 25 carries for -8 yards in the game and fell to 3-12 when rushing for less than 150 yards under Seth Littrell. Smith finished the game as the team’s leading rusher with six carries for 26 yards.

Jalen Guyton

After exploding for 441 yards and four touchdowns in the team’s first three Conference USA games, Jalen Guyton has been an afterthought for Fine and the North Texas offense. In the last eight games of the season, he managed 17 catches for 149 yards and two touchdowns. Part of that was opposing defenses shifting their attention in his direction, but Guyton was hardly even given the opportunity to make plays Saturday afternoon. He was targeted only twice and finished with one catch for 11 yards.

Featured Image: North Texas’ Eric Jenkins defends a pass against a Troy receiver in Saturday’s New Orleans Bowl. North Texas fell to the Trojans by a final score of 50-30. 

About Author

Brady Keane

Brady Keane

Brady Keane is the Sports Editor of the North Texas Daily. He previously served as Deputy Sports Editor (Jan. 2017-May 2017) and as a Staff Writer (Aug. 2015-May 2016).

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