North Texas Daily

Football’s motivation high for final two games

Football’s motivation high for final two games

Football’s motivation high for final two games
November 19
23:19 2014

Ehsan Azad / Staff Writer

The Mean Green football team will not be playing for a bowl game anymore, but with two games left on the schedule, there is still plenty the team is playing for.

With no chance of postseason play, the team still has plenty of motivation to get ready to play these final two games, especially for its departing senior class.

“Can you look yourself in the mirror and say you gave everything you’ve had in these last few games?” head coach Dan McCarney said. “Not only for what I want to do and accomplish, but for those seniors, because if I respect those guys and care for them and like them and love them, then go do your part.”

McCarney said other forms of motivation will stem from working for future events like winter workouts, spring training and recruiting. While those will serve as a motivation, the coaching staff isn’t focused on anything but the last two games.

“We are just trying to win the game on Saturday and then another one on the road with UTSA,” McCarney said. “Next year is the furthest thing from my mind. We got 12 days left with this football family and that is it.”

Another thing that McCarney wants to see in the final two games is something from all the players who will return next season. He said all returning players on the roster will meet with him and to discuss what their strengths and weaknesses are, and what they need to do to get better. These games can be somewhat of a springboard into next season.

“You want to finish with a good taste in your mouth,” McCarney said. “Nobody is going to hang out in this program. You get what you deserve, and you get what you earned.”

Some of the younger players on the roster will get more playing time throughout these last two games.

“It is kind of at the front of our mind that if you have someone playing next year, you need to get them acquainted,” junior receiver Carlos Harris said.

This season, Harris had to adjust to three different quarterbacks and said that must be fixed by the time next season starts.

“You want to have some kind of foundation when you are going into next season, because you don’t want it to start off like this when we are kind of wishy-washy with the quarterback situation,” Harris said. “The job is there, whoever wants it and whoever is willing to put in the work is going to have the job.”

One motivating factor for the team is the fact that Saturday’s game against Florida International University will be the last game for the seniors. In addition, if the team wins its final home game on Saturday, it will be the fourth straight season that the team will have a winning home record under McCarney. 

“Right now that is by far the most important thing,” senior defensive back James Jones said. “It is my last game at Apogee. I want to leave it with a win.”

Jones said there is a sense of urgency with himself and the rest of the seniors with Saturday being the last home game for them. He said he is drilling the importance of this game into the minds of his fellow teammates.

“This week we definitely need a win,” Jones said.

Jones said the defense will also play for defensive coordinator John Skladany, who will retire at the end of the season.

“He’s the genius of this defense,” Jones said. “We are going to come out with a little more fire this game [for him].”

Senior linebacker Derek Akunne said Skladany is a big reason for the Mean Green’s defensive success over the past seasons.

“I think it is important we send him out on a good note,” Akunne said. “We all need to give whatever we can give and a little more for everything he’s done to help us grow as players and everything he has done helping this university.”

Since he arrived, McCarney has preached about his program rallying to the moment and said he hopes the team rallies for the 17 seniors who will play their last games with the program.

“Control the moment, control the day, rally each day, and try to enjoy the journey along the way,” McCarney said. “I think that is what we will try to do.”

Featured Image: Mean Green football players sprint onto the field while spreading their eagle wings moments before the game against Nicholls State University on Sept. 20. Photo by Ryan Vance – Staff Photographer

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