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Halfway through season, North Texas football showing drastic signs of improvement

Halfway through season, North Texas football showing drastic signs of improvement

Junior running back Jeffery Wilson (26) celebrates after scoring against MTSU. Colin Mitchell

Halfway through season, North Texas football showing drastic signs of improvement
October 12
16:07 2016

It’s the middle of October, which means we’re at the halfway mark for a few things.

For one, the semester is half over and mid-terms are lurking over students like hawks. On a more positive note, North Texas football is at the halfway point of its 2016 campaign. Just as I predicted at the beginning of the season (I didn’t), the Mean Green are sitting pretty at 3-3 with a 2-1 record in Conference USA.

So unlike last year, when North Texas had the dreaded and inexplicable week one bye, the Mean Green now get a much-needed week off in the heart of their three-month trudge, which gives us time to answer the following question.

What the heck is happening in Denton and are we actually seeing #NewDenton?

Yes, yes we are.

The numbers are pretty convincing. In 2015, the Mean Green scored 182 points all year. Through six games in 2016, North Texas has scored 155 points.

Go back and read those last two sentences. Really soak it in, because that is absolutely incredible.

The offense is night and day better. The Mean Green are averaging 25.8 points per game this season, 10.6 points higher than their 15.2 average from last year.

True freshman Mason Fine was called upon in week one to lead the offense and has been sublime. Fine has only coughed the ball up twice in six weeks, throwing an interception at Florida and fumbling last week against Marshall.

You can’t ask much more from your freshman quarterback, who is probably worried about his English 1310 mid-term this week.

And while the offense has improved by leaps and bounds, the real story of this team is the defense.

Under first-year defensive coordinator Mike Ekeler, North Texas’ defense is holding opponents to 28.7 points per game. Last year, opponents averaged 41.2 points per contest. When you cut your opponents scoring almost in half, you’re going to win some football games.

Even though the wins have come against schools with a combined record of 1-13, each victory counts exactly the same as North Texas pushes for its first bowl game since 2013.

Junior defensive back Kishawn McClain has stepped up into a leadership role and has gone above and beyond. He has been crucial to the defense’s success and leads the team in interceptions with three.

In fact, the defense has been what has kept them in a majority of games. Against Middle Tennessee State University, the Mean Green thwarted off the Blue Raiders for nearly an entire half before surrendering a slim seven-point lead.

Against Marshall University, the defense forced The Thundering Herd to settle for field goals, which were missed on both occasions. The offense then went out and strung together a few scoring drives that put them in the driver’s seat, and the defense sealed the deal with a pick-six.

Hallelujah. Light the tower, because that is how you win games.

I said before the season this team would take some time to come together. It has taken time, but it’s happened quicker than I expected. In the win against Marshall, North Texas looked like a football team poised to make a bowl game.

All with a true freshman quarterback at the helm.

At the halfway point of the season, the Mean Green has arrived. Whether you look at the strong defensive play, the 3-3 record or performances by certain individuals, there is plenty to get excited about.

Almost one year ago to the date, North Texas was 0-6 with an interim head coach after getting utterly and historically embarrassed on homecoming 66-7 by Football Championship Subdivision Portland State University.

Those days are long gone, though.

Get used to what you’re seeing from this Mean Green squad because the new regime is here.

Featured Image: Junior running back Jeffery Wilson (26) celebrates after scoring against MTSU. Colin Mitchell

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Clay Massey

Clay Massey

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1 Comment

  1. Kennel Up
    Kennel Up October 15, 05:19

    The three wins were against teams with a combined record of 1 win in 14 games. One of them is a Division 1-AA school.

    Reply to this comment

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