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Historically bad football season comes to an end for Mean Green

Historically bad football season comes to an end for Mean Green

North Texas junior quarterback DaMarcus Smith (10) looks left after the snap before he threw a touchdown pass to Carlos Smith against WKU. Colin Mitchell | Intern Photographer

Historically bad football season comes to an end for Mean Green
December 03
12:29 2015

Reece Waddell | Senior Staff Writer

@ReeceTapout15

Former interim head coach Mike Canales walked into the pressroom after suffering another defeat last Saturday night, this time a 20-17 loss to the University of Texas El Paso. Before saying anything, he ran his fingers through his hair and took a big sigh. The usually upbeat and energetic coach was beaten down.

It was evident the long season of losing game after game had taken its toll.

“It’s been the story of our season,” Canales said. “We can’t make any plays. We can’t make a throw. We can’t protect. We can’t make a run. It’s just kind of what’s happened.”

The loss dropped the Mean Green to 1-11 on the season and tied the 2008 team for the worst record in school history. The record is also the fourth double-digit loss in the last ten years, and fifth in program history.

North Texas faced doom and gloom from the onset. Before even playing a down, the Mean Green lost one of its leaders on defense, senior defensive back Kenny Buyers, to injury.

The loss of Buyers, along with freshman defensive back Cedric Fernandes, hampered the defense and resulted in the Mean Green finishing 122nd in the Football Bowl Subdivision in total defense in 2015. North Texas gave up 503 yards per game on defense, slightly higher than the 483 yards per game it gave up in 2008. The Mean Green finished dead last in the FBS in 2008 despite giving up more yards this season.

The offense did not fare much better and averaged 320 yards per game, good enough for 117th in the country. That mark is worse than the 2008 squad, which finished tied for 72nd in the country at 363 yards per game.

Canales said the team repeatedly failed to execute and many mistakes throughout the season were self-inflicted.

“It just seems like every time you’re getting ready to taste it and grab it, they pull it away from you,” Canales said. “So what is it? Is it the discipline? Is it coaching? Is it players? Maybe it’s a little bit of everything.”

Senior tight end Marcus Smith echoed Canales’ thoughts and said he too thought lack of execution was the downfall of the Mean Green.

“We would go out there on some days in practice and look like we have it,” Smith said. “And then we would go out there on some Saturdays and the execution wouldn’t be up to par. It wouldn’t be up to the standard we set for ourselves.”

The frustration of a losing season seemed to hit a boiling point when senior wide receiver Carlos Harris was ejected for targeting in the waning moments of Saturday night’s game. After moving the ball inside the 25-yard line on a scramble by junior quarterback DaMarcus Smith, Harris launched himself into a defenseless player, resulting in a 15-yard penalty and a trip to the locker room.

Immediately following his ejection, Harris gave the crowd a peace sign and jogged off the field. The penalty was the end of Harris’ career at North Texas and, according to senior offensive lineman Michael Banogu, was a culmination of pent up emotions held in throughout the season.

“He definitely let a lot of frustration for the senior class out on that play,” Banogu said.

Along with ending North Texas’ season, Saturday’s loss also marked the end of Canales’ tenure in Denton. Having served as the offensive coordinator since 2010, Canales was the first person former head coach Dan McCarney hired to his staff.

One concern the team now faces with the lack of a head coach is a missing presence on the recruiting trail. With junior college signing day a mere two weeks away, North Texas brass hopes to hire its next coach sooner rather than later.

Smith said it’s important for the Mean Green to get a coaching staff in place as soon as possible, because potential recruits often weigh decisions based on who will be leading them the next four years.

“You have parents that want to meet the coaching staff,” Smith said. “These are the people you’re going to be giving your kids to for the next four or five years. It’s really important to have a coaching staff in place.”

With change imminent in Denton, returning players and coaches will wait and see what happens next. As for Canales, he said he will always cherish his time at North Texas and believes the football program will eventually get turned around.

“I believe in my heart the Mean Green will be back stronger than ever,” Canales said.

Featured Image: North Texas junior quarterback DaMarcus Smith (10) looks left after the snap before he threw a touchdown pass to Carlos Smith against WKU. Colin Mitchell | Intern Photographer

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