North Texas Daily

Five observations from North Texas vs. SMU

Five observations from North Texas vs. SMU

September 09
21:40 2017

1. Fast start – then what?

What happened to the Mean Green offense we saw on the opening drive of the game? North Texas spread the field and worked the short game, finding receivers 5-10 yards down the field and letting them do the rest of the work. With SMU expecting the Mean Green to go to Jeffery Wilson early and often, North Texas drove 75 yards in just five plays to seemingly set the tone right out of the gate. But after settling for a field goal on their next possession, the Mean Green’s next seven drives: punt, turnover on downs, punt, interception, fumble, interception, punt. North Texas led 10-0, but gave up 38 consecutive points from that moment on. Failing to maintain even a sliver of the hot start resulted in North Texas falling into a hole it simply could not climb out of.

2.  Courtland Sutton lives up to the hype

Entering Saturday’s game, Courtland Sutton was widely regarded as one of the best wide receivers in the entire country. For the second straight year he showed North Texas fans why, finishing the night with eight catches for 163 yards and four touchdowns. Sutton had five catches for 115 yards and three touchdowns in the first half alone, and it didn’t really matter what North Texas did to try to slow him down. Kemon Hall intercepted a pass intended for the star receiver, but that was mainly because Ben Hicks threw the ball well short of Sutton. If the Mustangs wanted to find him down the field, they did. And that was a big difference in the game.

3. Third down woes

If you think back to last season, Courtland Sutton came up with a ridiculous touchdown grab on third and 45 for SMU. In the North Texas Daily Facebook Live broadcast leading up to the game, we said that preventing similar long plays – especially on third down – would be an important key to walking out of Dallas with a win Saturday night. Unfortunately for North Texas, it was a whole lot of the same this time around. The Mustangs converted 5-5 third downs in the second quarter and finished 50 percent (9-18) on the night.

Sophomore quarterback Mason Fine tosses the ball to senior running back Jeffery Wilson in a game against Southern Methodist University on Sept. 9. The Mean Green fell to SMU 54-32. Sara Carpenter

4. SMU zeroes in on Jeffery Wilson

Jeffery Wilson was one of the top backs in the country statistically after his performance against Lamar when he ran for 176 and three touchdowns in a dominating win. But when the Mean Green’s competition level increased to the FBS level, Wilson’s production dramatically decreased. Part of that is because SMU stacked the box to slow him down, and North Texas didn’t spread the field very much in their offensive formations. By keeping their receivers lined up just a few yards off the offensive line, the Mean Green kept everything tightly bunched throughout the majority of the night. It was hard for Wilson to find any room, and he finished with just 13 carries for 36 yards and one touchdown.

5. Fine puts up career-high numbers in passing game

While the overwhelming majority of the night was a disappointment for the Mean Green, the team has to be thrilled with the showing it got from two of its newest offensive additions. Freshman Jaelon Darden finished with five catches for 67 yards and a TD, and was explosive in the return game as well. Redshirt sophomore Jalen Guyton finished as the team’s leading receiver with 109 yards and two scores. Guyton, a former Allen star who spent a year at Notre Dame, looked as explosive as North Texas hoped he would be. If Fine can continue to find those guys, the Mean Green should be productive through the air all season. Fine finished with a career-high 424 yards and three touchdowns in the loss.

Featured Image: North Texas sophomore Jalen Guyton (9) hauls in a pass but lands out of bounds late in a game against Southern Methodist University. Colin Mitchell

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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